Static caravans: Year-round living hurts economy - AM

Image caption Darren Millar said there is a negative impact on the economy by people who flout this

People living in static caravans all year round are damaging the Welsh economy, a Conservative has claimed.

Clwyd West assembly member Darren Millar wants parks better regulated so that caravans are occupied no more than 11 months of the year.

He is seeking permission from the assembly to introduce a Holiday Caravan Park (Wales) Bill.

The British Holiday and Home Parks Association shares his concerns but says parks could become over-regulated.

Static caravans can only be lived in for a maximum 11 months annually and Mr Millar said there was a negative impact on the economy by people who flout the rule.

Mr Millar is concerned by the number of caravan park operators wanting to offer 12-month occupancy.

Previously, he has said such a move could lead to "trailer park ghettoes".

He said: "Unfortunately, there are some caravan park owners which are unscrupulous and do not manage their parks to the highest standards and, of course, because tourism is such an important part of the north Wales economy, what we have to do is protect it as best as we possibly can and make it sustainable for the future.

Mr Millar said the main problem was an increase in recent years in the number of people using their holiday caravans as their main home.

He said: "If people are living in caravans all year round they are, effectively, residents in the area but of course they do not pay council tax in the same way that other local residents would pay council tax but they will still be seeking entitlement to local public services.

"Obviously there is a cost to local authorities, there's a cost to the health service, there's a cost to the police service - and none of it is being reimbursed to their pockets."

'Little incentive'

Mr Millar suggested an "extensive consultation" over how the situation would be policed, which is currently the responsibility of the local authorities.

Mr Millar said: "What we have to do is to make sure they are better equipped with the tools that they need to do a really effective job and that's, hopefully, what my legislation will deliver."

Figures from local authorities show there are currently 55 licences across Wales for 12-month trading, with 43 in north Wales counties.

There were 25 applications for such licences in 2012 and 13, with 23 in north Wales, compared with six applications across Wales in 2011 and 12.

A spokesperson for the British Holiday and Home Parks Association (BHHPA) said it shared Mr Millar's concerns, adding: "We also recognise the importance of ensuring that Wales continues to benefit from the major contribution made by parks to the regional economy by protecting the industry's reputation.

"There exists within present legislation the means to prevent the misuse of caravan holiday homes by either consumers or businesses. This power lies within the hands of local authorities which are able to enforce the terms of planning consents and the site licences they issue, including requirements for holiday caravans not to be used for residential occupation.

"There is concern within the industry that inappropriately drafted legislation could place an onerous red-tape burden on businesses."

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