Northern Ireland caravan owners in fury over site fees
Caravan owners have slammed a Northern Ireland council over annual hikes to their site fees amid claims that services are deteriorating.
Juniper Hill in Portstewart, one of six caravan sites owned by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, has over 400 plots - with each caravan handing over an annual rent of £2,400.
Disgruntled owners contacted the Belfast Telegraph after attending a meeting with council officers where they say their concerns were not addressed.
They claimed the council is failing to provide adequate security, emergency service access and free Wifi - which is available at all other council-owned caravan parks.
One man who did not wish to be identified said the biggest issue for him was the 10% paid to the council if an owner sold their caravan to a third party.
"I have had a caravan on Juniper Hill for over 30 years but between the rising annual fees and all the other additional costs I had actually considered selling my caravan and leaving," he said.
"My wife and I are pensioners and the £2,400 annual fee is not easy to come, by but if we were to sell our caravan we would have to give the council 10% of the price we got for it.
"The council has a policy where if you want to sell, they have first refusal and offer you what they say the caravan is worth, but if you can get more money from someone else you have to give them 10%.
"Another concern I have is the lack of access to the site after midnight when the gates are locked. If someone in a caravan calls the emergency services but can't get to the gate with their swipe card to let them in then the ambulance will be stuck outside.
"We tried to raise our concerns at the meeting with the council officers but they just would not listen and I ended up walking out half way through because I was disgusted with their attitude."
Another long-term owner said the lack of free Wifi and new additional costs have also got people hot under the collar.
He said: "Council offers free Wifi at its other five sites, but we don't get it. I am self-employed and would like to be able to work from my caravan but I can't because of the lack of free Wifi and I am not alone in that."
"The council is also charging us now to cut the grass around our caravans which used to be included in the fees and a 24-hour warden that used to be on site has been reduced to 12 hours a day now.
"There was an all-night party recently but when people tried to complain there was no answer to the mobile number for security."
The council has yet to respond to a request for a comment.