Caravan owners usually comment individually to their park owner about issues that need attention. In doing this, park owners can marginalise complaints as long as one caravan owner does not know if another has the same complaint. This means that complaints may not be resolved satisfactorily from the caravan owner’s point of view. We understand that this is a fairly common experience amongst caravan owners.
To formalise proceedings you could choose to form an Owners’ Association. Licences also refer to fees under review as “proposed fees”. We are aware that many park owners attempt to set fees unilaterally, which is not fair - remember that your local Trading Standards Department is empowered to act on unfair terms and practices. You can always ask them to intervene for you to discuss any fee review with your park owner. Don’t forget that the NACO Advice Team is on hand for help and guidance. In our view, forming an association of caravan owners is helpful to both you and the park owner as common issues can be discussed and resolved quickly and easily by this means.
INITIAL STEPS FOR FORMING AN ASSOCIATION
It is helpful to have an initial meeting of a small group of caravan owners who are prepared to organise an Association. Bear in mind that a fair amount of administration will be required throughout. Once sufficient interest is shown, you should approach your park owner to see if he is prepared to circulate a membership invitation letter to all caravan owners at their home address, with an application form. This is a good co-operative way of working between you and the park owner. You need to nominate one person who will be the focal point for the return of the application forms.
THE AIMS OF AN ASSOCIATION
On the application form you should include the aims of the Association. Typically, these could be:
“To represent the shared views of owners and to work with park management to aid the development and running of the holiday park to the mutual benefit of caravan owners and the park owner.”
(Examples of the invitation letter and application form are available from us. The letter should also advertise an in augural meeting with venue, date and time.)
Obviously, it is very useful if your park owner is prepared to help, encourage and recognise your fledgling Association. In this respect, it may be prudent to remind them of the Adjournment Debate in Parliament on 2 March 2009. This was primarily focused on the regulation of residential parks, but helps to put forward a good case. In this debate, the Government expressed its determination for caravan owners’ associations to be formed and that park owners be encouraged to recognise them. You can see the debate on the Hansard website –search for Hansard online.
While the application forms are being returned, you will need a small group of caravan owners who will plan an inaugural meeting at which a Constitution will be approved and a working committee will be elected from those present. The meeting will then elect the main officers of the Association: Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, and Membership Secretary, along with any other posts you create.
You may wish to follow the elections with a general discussion of issues on the site which would be brought to the attention of the park owner in a structured way by the Committee, and a stated in the aims of the Association - “To represent theshared views etc…”.
An example Constitution is also available from NACO upon request, with the means of working, which includes:
AFTER THE MEETING
You may find it helpful to have a committee meeting before everyone goes home and discuss the best way of communicating with the members of the Association. This could be by email, by WhatsApp or by Facebook on a closed or private group. You should agree that the returned forms would be recorded, and then sent to the Membership Secretary. An email address and website for the Association needs to be established. A postal service may have to be considered for caravan owners without internet access.
And so the Association will develop. It is hard work and requires a lot of commitment and dedication. Everyone is a volunteer, but each will have the relevant skills to organise and run meetings, draft Newsletters, record and audit the finances, deal with correspondence, listen to members’ concerns and meet the site management/site owner and so on.
Obviously, all this is only an example as every Association will have is own agenda and means of operation, but these guidelines may be helpful to you.
A MEMBERSHIP AFFIDAVIT
As the membership details (eg names, addresses) are confidential to the individual and the Association, you will need some means of confirming to your park owner that the Association does indeed represent over 51% of the caravan owners. This can be achieved by means of an Affidavit from a Notary Public – usually attached to a firm of solicitors.
You should find a Notary Public who will certify annually by Affidavit that he has inspected the books of the Association, confirms membership numbers and details that the Association represents the caravan owners.
DEVELOPMENT AND NEWSLETTER
As the work of the Association develops, you may find you need more volunteers to be recruited to other tasks. In other words, the Association changes to match the circumstances on the park.
It is useful to have a monthly Newsletter emailed to members, with a remaining few having to be posted. This will prove an invaluable source of information to members, covering park issues and also developments in the industry, which need to be brought to people’s attention. It also enables rapid communication to members in the event of unexpected and/or unilateral actions by a park owner.
Forming an Association means you’ve got PEOPLE POWER! However, it also brings many other benefits, for example: meeting and making new friends, helpful advice, and an opportunity - if people wish it - to arrange social functions. It’s up to you to decide.
All of the documentation mentioned in this article is available from our team at NACO, please get in touch if you would like to find out more: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01255 820 321.
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Published on 24 August 2022 By Jenny Blumsom