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‘Very Concerned’ Council Leader Steps In to Reassure Elderly Edgeley Residents

Published on: 20 Aug, 2022
Updated on: 21 Aug, 2022

Aerial view of Edgeley Park in Farley Green, south of Albury – Google Maps

By Martin Giles

Joss Bigmore, leader of Guildford Borough Council, stepped in today to reassure elderly residents at Edgeley Holiday Park in Farley Green that Guildford Borough Council is not washing its hands of them.

Those on the site claim that more than 50 per cent of the people occupying lodges, which are caravans or mobile homes, are living there permanently. Five of the residents spoken to by The Dragon say that despite conditions in their agreement prohibiting permanent residence there was at least tacit acceptance of their status by the site owner, Haulfryn, or its predecessor.

But “breach notices” started being served last year in the wake of a questionnaire associated with Covid lockdowns.

One of the scores of breach notices said to have been served on Edgeley residents for their permanent residency.

Despite the verbal evidence, example copies of an agreement and breach notice and a statement from a resident explaining how he felt misled by the site managers, the lead councillor for Regulation and Environment, James Steel (Lib Dem, Westborough), said: “The documents that The Guildford Dragon shared with us are private contracts. They are between caravan occupiers and site owners.

Extract of a signed statement by one resident whose has lived on the site for over 10 years, explaining that managers knew he was selling his home to move to Edgeley Park.

“We empathise with residents affected, but we must operate within our legal powers. These legal powers do not include powers to act in this matter.

“We have not established lawful evidence capable of use in court that people living at Edgeley Park are full-time residents. The findings of investigations showed no lawful evidence of breaches of legislation.

See also: Confusion at Holiday Park Where Residents Feel Threatened With Eviction

“Residents can report concerns about their contracts and any notices served by the site owner to Trading Standards. This is the appropriate agency with legal powers to act for this type of enforcement issue. We are aware that Surrey County Council’s Trading Standards has received complaints.”

Cllr James Steel responding to Bob Hughes’ questions at the full council meeting of Guildford Borough Council on July 26

Cllr Steel was asked: “Isn’t it the truth that the council has been aware for years that some residents at Edgeley Park were living there as full-time residents, in breach of licence conditions, but it took no action? ” He responded: “We have not established that people living at Edgeley Park are full-time residents. The findings of investigations showed no breaches of legislation.”

But the council has confirmed that under The Town and Country Planning Act 1990: “In the case of any other breach of planning control, no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of ten years beginning with the date of the breach.”

This might mean that all those who have been residing permanently at the site for more than ten years cannot be evicted but, it might not constrain the owners from enforcing their pitch tenancy agreements and the affected residents in this category are still anxious to have the situation confirmed in writing while others, who have less than ten years’ residency, will be left feeling vulnerable.

Owners Haulfryn were asked why has there been an apparent change of management policy affecting Edgeley Park residents, many of whom were elderly, over 70 or 80 with age-related health issues, who say they are are finding the situation stressful and worrying?”

Haulfryn responded:  “As standard across all our holiday parks, we have always issued an annual request to our owners, asking them to provide proof that their holiday home is not their main place of residence – the exception being 2020 as a result of Covid.

“This is in line with the licence and purchase agreements which are governed by the NCC [National Caravan Council], who state that owners are not permitted to use their caravan or holiday home as their main residence.

“We do not in any way want to cause concern amongst our owners and actively encourage them to liaise directly with us, in the hope that we can work together with them to reach a solution.”

In a further development today (August 20) a contact at the site has reported to The Dragon that an official from SCC’s Trading Standards has visited complainants at the site to say that the case was being dropped despite observations from another official earlier who opined there seemed to be a strong case.

Cllr Joss Bigmore

But this afternoon (August 20) Joss Bigmore made it clear that he was concerned and intended to hear from the residents first-hand.

He said: I am very concerned at the allegations of improper behaviour at Edgeley Park causing the lodge owners distress.  The fact that over 30 residents attended a meeting of the full council [on July 26 when a question on Edgeley Park, posed by county councillor Bob Hughes, was discussed] is a clear indication that things are not right and GBC must continue to investigate these issues.

“Following the full council meeting [Chief Executive] Tom Horwood and myself committed to Cllr Bob Hughes that we would convene a meeting with all the agencies involved, looking again at past investigations and also at the new evidence provided.  We expect that meeting to occur in early September.”

Bob Hughes

Bob Hughes, the Conservative county councillor for Shere division, who owns one of the lodges at Edgeley Park and was once a full-time resident there, said this evening: “It has always been impossible to argue that no-one lived in Edgeley Park and that point is now conceded.

“Haulfryn Group has been encouraging people to live there which is a clear breach of their licence. I am delighted that the leadership of Guildford Council have promised to look into this. It will doubtless reveal the true picture that I and lodge owners have consistently argued.

“We all need to examine the inspections apparently carried out. When they wrongly claimed no-one lived on site, who can they have spoken to? What records did they inspect, and where are the notes of their meetings? I look forward to the truth emerging at the meeting with the council leadership.”

Cllr Diana Jones

And Diana Jones, the Green Party borough councillor for Tillingbourne ward, which includes Edgeley Park, said: “I am pleased that this matter has been brought to the attention of GBC and I am keen to take part in any further meetings to try to get to the bottom of these issues.

“I am very concerned that residents of Edgeley Park, particularly those who are elderly or vulnerable, should have their interests safeguarded, both by Haulfryn and by Guildford Borough Council.”

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Responses to ‘Very Concerned’ Council Leader Steps In to Reassure Elderly Edgeley Residents

  1. Bob Bullen Reply

    August 29, 2022 at 3:16 pm

    I hope this proposed meeting with Guildford Borough Council will not be another whitewash such as the trading standards findings.

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