Caravan site owner loses court case

THE owner of a large Filey caravan park has been ordered to pay £3,600 in damages to a regular visitor who claimed he and his wife were forced off the site by an "unreasonable" change in their contract.

David Thorpe, of Leeds, won a recent judgement at Scarborough County Court against Chris Collings, of Lowfield Farm, who inherited the site from his late father in 2004.

Mr Thorpe and his wife bought a caravan on the site in 1999 and have until recently enjoyed their stays. But when Mr Collings asked them to sign a new contract, which included penalties for late payments and a clause forbidding the private sale of their own caravan, the Thorpes saw red.

Mr Thorpe refused to sign and was given notice to quit the site.

He said: “I was told if I didn’t sign the contract and pay my rent by April 1, Mr Collings would charge me 10 per cent interest per day. Also, they wouldn’t let us sell the caravan privately – we could only sell it to them.

“It’s disgraceful. A lot of people refused to sign.

“We used to spend all our summers there – my wife has MS and it’s a nice site, but if they’re going to be charging ridiculous amounts of money, they’re going to lose business and Filey is going to suffer for it.”

The couple’s daughter Claire said it was an ideal site for anyone who wanted a bit of tranquility, at the same time as being close to town and she was “disgusted” by the way her parents had been treated.

According to a written judgment by Deputy District Judge TJ Gray, the original contract agreed between Mr Thorpe and Mr Collings Senior ended on the latter’s death.

But, he added: “In my view the changes which were sought to be imposed in the new contract were not reasonable – in particular the 10 per cent per day interest rate for late fees and the requirement that the caravan could only be sold to the defendant – and so a failure on the part of the complainant to sign up to that new contract could not in my view amount to a reasonable reason on the part of the defendant to serve a notice to terminate the contract.”

Mr Thorpe – who has now been paid his damages – said he was delighted by the decision, although he would miss staying in the caravan.

Through a representative, Mr Collings declined to comment the Mercury, but indicated he would be lodging an appeal.