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April 6, 2011

Caravanning communities

With the start of the new financial year comes a whole new set of opportunities for the community sector. For better or worse, communities will soon be inundated with offers from Councils inviting them to take on the management or ownership of all sorts of local assets. Caravan parks for instance. Aberdeenshire Council can’t afford to run them anymore and the communities affected are all too aware how much they contribute to their local economy

The organisers of a major north-east maritime festival are confident they can clinch a deal to take control of a caravan park from Aberdeenshire Council.

Negotiations are under way between the local authority and the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival group at Portsoy about the town’s seaside site. It is one of 11 caravan parks in Aberdeenshire the council wants to offload at the end of this summer to save money.

Festival chairman Roger Goodyear revealed that meetings to discuss a long lease have taken place already between the two parties. He said: “These meetings have been productive and we are now developing a business plan. We have looked at the figures for the site, done some calculations and we are confident this site can more than wash its face.”

The popular site has more than 30 stances for static vans, tourers and tents. Mr Goodyear said the festival group regarded controlling the park as a logical extension of current activities.

He said: “It fits in with our plans for the nearby Salmon Bothy where we are looking to develop a catering facility. It would also tie in with our boatbuilding and restoration plans at the harbour. We think it is a terrific caravan site and a major feature of the town.”

The group’s interest in the site mirrors that of the Banff and Macduff Community Trust for the Banff Links park. The trust has obtained financial details for the links site and will study them before reaching a decision. In 2009-10, the 11 sites controlled by Aberdeenshire Council ran with an operating deficit of £64,000.

Last month, councillors decided to offer them on long leases to community organisations or private sector operators. If that strategy fails, the council may consider trying to sell the sites. The local authority will run the sites this summer, but hopes deals to offload them can be completed by October.