Fire hazard shame of some caravan parks

Fire drill at one north Norfolk's caravan sites still involves stirrup pumps and the ringing of a handbell.It is one of a minority of below-par sites that officers aim to tackle in a new campaign.

Fire drill at one north Norfolk's caravan sites still involves stirrup pumps and the ringing of a handbell.

It is one of a minority of below-par sites that officers aim to tackle in a new campaign.

Eighty per cent of the district's caravan parks were very good, but the other 20pc had potential problems, councillors heard yesterday.

Some of the best were well-run with modern vans where “mod cons” included washing machines and dishwashers plumbed into the mains, which was better than facilities in many holiday cottages, environmental health manager Chris Cawley told North Norfolk District Council's licensing committee.


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But some still had shared toilet blocks, and needed to “move on” in an area where tourism was vital to the economy.

Sites could be up to 50 years old, and caravans 30-40 years old, causing issues with insulation and fire safety, and the site with handbells to raise the alarm and stirrup pumps, was “hardly 2008 technology,” he added.

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Hazards included cliff edges, unofficial paths worn down to the beach, along with ponds, rivers and farm buildings on rural sites.

Committee chairman Robin Combe said there was a need to drive up standards, to enhance the pleasure of visitors and the reputation of the area, but without the council being seen to be “petty little Hitlers” through being over-tough.

A report to councillors highlighted issues with poor fire-fighting plans and equipment, pool safety and maintenance, sanitation, worn and damaged play equipment, and gas cylinder storage - including one were 1000kg of LPG was stored in a toilet block corridor.

Standards on caravan sites used for migrant workers were also poor, with aging vans, lack of facilities and low maintenance, the committee heard.

Council chairman Sue Arnold told colleagues: “If a child drowns in a swimming pool it is bad publicity for the whole of North Norfolk's tourist industry.”

Officers would be tackling fire and safety issues as a priority, but the committee also agreed to look into the costs and feasibility of a ranking scheme to grade caravan parks as an incentive to improve and a guide to visitors.

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