South Derbyshire Conservative MP Heather Wheeler is supporting calls from two local businesses to re-open caravan holiday parks and, by extension, the whole caravan manufacturing and supply chain industry.
Heather Wheeler MP commented: “The caravan industry, is one of the UK’s manufacturing success stories and crucially is a seasonal business with the prime selling period between March and August. The impact of COVID-19 has been to effectively close the industry before the summer season opened. Like other industries the longer businesses in the supply chain are not permitted to reopen, the greater the risk of businesses failures and substantial redundancies.”
Heather continued: “There is a great future for camping, caravan and motorhome holidays in the UK. Potentially staycationing will never be more appealing and rules on holiday parks on distances between pitches ensure social distancing. The economic value of the public taking UK holidays is very important but we need the parks and dealerships to be allowed to open as soon as it is safe to do so to unlock the rest of the supply chain.”
The National Caravan Council (NCC) has already written to the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and members of the Cabinet asking that they consider the industry in its own right and not to be treated as hotels, hostels or B&Bs. The NCC point out that 95% of all caravans & motorhomes are privately owned and provide the safest self-contained form of leisure/holiday accommodation.
Don Amott owner of Don Amott Caravans & Motorhomes at Hilton and five parks in Lincolnshire is supporting the NCC campaign. Don stated: “Caravanning and holiday parks are socially distanced by design. Rules on site mean that caravans or lodges must be 5 to 6m apart and as each caravan has its own cooking and washing facilities, they provide the safest form of holidaying possible at the moment.”
The industry employs over 200,000 people across parks and the supply chain in the UK, and we estimate that almost 1 million households have been denied the use of their caravan or motorhome during this lockdown period.”
Samantha Heap who manages the five Don Amott Holiday Parks adds: “All of the Holiday Homes on our parks are privately owned with no rental properties. For us there are no safety issues with shared facilities or accommodation. Very close to us we now have golf courses and fishing lakes open for business and our own parks sit ready to be used and could be used safely.”
Martin Fitzpatrick, Managing Director at Truma Limited based in Foston South Derbyshire said: “The NCC are calling on the Government with two requests. Firstly, to allow caravan and motorhome dealerships and sales offices on holiday parks to open as soon as it is safe to do and preferably in line with non-essential retail premises in England on 1st June.
“For companies like ours that supply parts and accessories to the industry this move will unlock the supply chain and get business moving again.
“The second request is to allow holiday caravan parks to open and get ready for the traditional summer holiday dates which we hope can be no later than 4 July.
“Our staff of over 50 people have been furloughed since the end of March and are keen to return to work as soon as possible. We have prepared our site to provide the safest possible work environment but until our industry re-opens there is little demand for our products and services and the staff will remain furloughed.”
Heather, Don, Samantha and Martin agree that all the above is conditional on the basis that the virus remains under control and that all establishments are COVID safe following all relevant government COVID 19 secure guidelines.