New operator at local van park “by Autumn”

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THE question of who will take over the running of the Queen Elizabeth Caravan Park could become clear by the end of the month, with arangements put in place by the autumn, it was announced at the Stonehaven and District community council meeting this week.

Speaking at their monthly meeting on Tuesday evening, chairman David Fleming revealed that three separate operators have expressed an interest in taking over the responsibility of running the caravan park.

He said: “Ten days ago a request was sent out for information to find out whether these operators would fulfil the policy conditions that Aberdeenshire Council have expressed. This is to ensure that we don’t ask them to put a tender together without a reasonable chance of them getting it.”

The identities of the three interested parties are being kept under wraps for the time being, until a decision has been reached.

Mr Fleming added: “This information is due back before the end of the month. It is hoped that things will move quickly from there and everything will be wrapped up by the autumn.”

The Caravan Club - billed as Europe’s number one touring organisation and boasting over 375,000 members - visited the site in April, and representatives were reportedly “very impressed” with the seaside town.

Aberdeenshire Council has backed plans to hand over control of caravan parks across the shire to communities as part of budget cuts.

At May’s community council meeting, Stonehaven and Lower Deeside Councillor Peter Bellarby said that a possible course of action could be that the Stonehaven Town Partnership could take a lease of the caravan park from Aberdeenshire Council, then it in turn could sub-lease to the Caravan Club or a similar organisation.

Cllr Bellarby said that this appeared to tbe the best solution, as it would bring much needed investment for the park, while retaining some of the financial return for the good of Stonehaven.

Several community councillors thought that having everything in place by autumn was ambitious, expressing concerns about the length of time it will take to transfer the lease, but Mr Fleming said that he had been assured that this would be done as swiftly as possible.