Van owners face eviction
FAMILIES that have been coming to the Suffolk Park Caravan Park for three generations are devastated after being given their marching orders by Byron Shire Council.
Just before Christmas, the owners of 10 long-term storage/holiday van sites received a letter telling them they had three months notice to vacate.
It came as a rude shock to families occupying the vans, most of whom were on-site and enjoying their annual Christmas/New Year break.
Brisbane residents Jim Melville and his wife Nola, who have holidayed in their van at Suffolk for more than 30 years, said they had not even been granted the courtesy of a phone call before the letter was delivered.
The Melville’s and other van owners have forged strong bonds both amongst themselves and with the local community over the years and have vowed to do all they can to retain their sites.
Chantel Nason’s parents own a long-term site and she has spent every Christmas of her life at the Suffolk Park Caravan Park. She even met her future husband, Grant, while holidaying there and the pair married on a nearby beach. Chantal and Grant now come and stay in their parent’s van at least every three to four weeks and bring their own children, Keelie and Taj.
“For us, it’s a big shock, because this place means so much to us,” she said.
The council made the decision to vacate the sites in December, following a notice of motion from councillor Patrick Morrisey.
Mr Morrissey said the vans, eight of which are owned by people in Queensland, the other two by Lismore residents, were let for about $80 a week and were unoccupied for most of the year. During peak times, holiday makers willing to pay commercial prices were being turned away while the storage vans stood empty. Council stood to earn at least six times more from each site per annum if the vans were removed, he said.
But Mr Melville said most van owners used their sites more than Mr Morrissey suggested and it was rare for them not to be occupied during peak times.
Since receiving their notice, van owners have been seeking an urgent meeting with councillors to discuss the plans.
Van owner Darryl Hawke, of Lismore, said he had emailed every councillor with a request to meet with residents.