WALES: New pounds 1,315 licence fee will force us to take TVs out of caravans; HOLIDAY PARK OWNER SLAMS 1,000% INCREASE.
A NORTH Wales caravan park operator has threatened to remove televisions from the site after a huge increase in licence fees.
The move could be repeated by dozens of other holiday parks which face the same price increase after the television licensing authority brought in new rules earlier this month.
Tourism business leaders described the move by TV Licensing as a "speculative strike" against the massive rise.
Among the first to be affected was the Browns Holiday Park, Towyn near Abergele.
Ten of the 125 pitches/caravans are owned and let by its owners for holiday use March to September inclusive.
A further five letting units are sited at the Happy Days Caravan Park nearby.
Holiday park owner Lucie Hodgson said the licence for the units at Happy Days was renewed in June for pounds 131.50 but a similar cheque for Browns, sent earlier this month, was returned.
She told the Daily Post: "Upon speaking to TV Licensing, they told me they have reviewed their Hotel & Mobile units licence, and we now require a full licence per unit, regardless of how many weeks of the year in use, regardless of how many units are let and at 1000% price increase with no notice given.
"This means to comply with TV licensing's 2006 reviewed regulations we will have to pay pounds 1,315 as opposed to pounds 126.50 last year and the costs will be even higher next year.
"If they do successfully enforce the new charges to comply, our televisions will be removed from the letting caravans for the remainder of 2006 season and we will be seriously considering retracting all of our 15 letting units next season due to the increased overheads.
"Having spoken to other caravan park operators in the area they are also considering similar action. Yet another blow to tourism in North Wales."
Mike Learmond, North Wales organiser of the Federation of Small Business (FSB) said: "This individual example is the tip of the iceberg and it seems TV Licensing are pulling a fast one.
"It affects all small businesses who have to be very careful with their costings and any bill which is 13 times higher than expected would cause problems."
Ros Pritchard, director general of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association said caravan parks make a highly significant contribution to Britain's tourist industry.
"Seeking to impose vastly increased TV Licensing fees on park operators effectively increases the cost of providing this tourist accommodation," he said.
"This will inevitably lead either to price increases or to reducing the service to customers by removing the televisions altogether."
Lucie Hodgson at Browns Holiday Park, Towyn, where TV licences have gone up to pounds 1,315 Picture: STACEY ROBERTS' Mike Learmond