Minutes of Spring Meeting held on Sunday 22nd March 2015
at the Village Hotel Swindon
Present Liz Ashenden Chairman
Jean Tolchard Vice- Chairman
David Lappin Secretary
Arthur Saunders Treasurer
Site Representatives Barrie Hockley
Attendance 35 Members
Madam Chairman opened the meeting and thanked all for attending and apologised for the lower than normal turnout, noting that out of circa 200 members only 35 including partners were able to attend.
Madam Chairman asked those present if they had received a copy of the AGM Minutes and if so, did they reflect a true and proper record. This was proposed by Mr John Eymor and seconded by Mrs Jean Tolchard.
Following the AGM in November at Perran View there were a number of items outstanding which could not be addressed by the respective park managers.
A meeting was held on Tuesday 17th March with Martyn Fowler and attended by Madam Chairman and the Secretary.
Business performance 2014
The holiday letting side of the business was relatively strong albeit the season was slow at the beginning of the year. This was not helped by the storm damage in February 2014 affecting Tolroy and St. Ives. The company’s overall profitability did not benefit from the increase in sales. Large unexpected bills had to be met to pay for the rebuild of the swimming pool at Tolroy and perhaps more importantly the cost of JFH putting half the business up for sale.
Plans for 2015
All JFH properties have now been taken off the market and with the exception of Kenegie Manor are no longer for sale. However, if the right offer comes along for say Tolroy and Perran View it will be considered. An offer was made for Kenegie Manor some months ago, but has been rejected. There are no current prospective buyers.
JFH head office was also included in the disposal plan, but now a decision has been taken to reduce its size by roughly half. The land will be sold to a housing developer for residential housing.
No major changes other than the reception area has been refurbished. Unfortunately agreement could not be reached with all owners to go ahead with the painting of property exteriors even though Gavin had worked tirelessly on the project to convince them of the benefits.
No major changes other than keeping up the maintenance programme
The replacement of Chalets/Lodges which began last year will continue on a rolling basis over a 10 year period.
The planning application to install 16 Lodges will lapse later this year if the programme is not started. JFH intend to apply for an extension and hope that it will be granted. The work will go ahead this year, if an extension is refused.
A new sewage treatment system will be installed in parallel to the existing. JFH are planning for the work to be carried out at the end of the season but it may be done during the season, if the Environment Agency deems it necessary sooner.
A new children’s play area has been installed and is located in front of the laundry.
As you know there has been a wholesale change around of managers. The change and announcement was planned by JFH to take place in January, however due to various reasons this had to be pulled forward to December, which caused some operational headaches. The managers, we are assured, were not aware of the plans at the time of CMOA AGM in November.
Some managers have taken key staff with them so the changes have cascaded down the line.
Julie at Kenegie resigned in February. Christine who has been on the reception side at St. Ives for the past 10 years has now taken on her role.
Owner’s use of property
At the AGM there was considerable discussion as to when and how owners can use their property during the closed season, which needed clarification by JFH.
The Company’s response is: owners are free to use their properties at any time as long as it is for their own use or members of their family. The property can also be let for hire during the winter season providing it complies with the holiday letting rules. These rules were set out in the AGM Minutes November 2014.
Sub–letting is a growing problem and a major headache for JFH. The company has issued a general letter to owners reminding them it is a holiday park and not a residential site.
Extracts of JFH letter
We are writing to anyone who appears to be staying at the Park for lengthy periods to remind them that Park accommodation may only be used for holidays and not as a permanent residence.
We recommend anyone who is residing on the Park to make alternative arrangements as soon as possible to avoid being in breach of planning regulations, as Councils are rigidly enforcing the ‘holiday’ condition.
The original plan to implement new bedding to replace the colourful John Fowler bedding was not actioned. The Managers introduced them on all sites with the exception of Kenegie last year but didn’t use the same criteria, so it has all got a bit woolly.
The current situation as CMOA understands it is Gold accommodation is being or going to be supplied with the latest linen. Once that has been completed the programme will move to Silver and finally Bronze. This process is likely to carry on for a couple of seasons before all properties let through JFH have the latest linen. If an owner wishes to provide their visitors with the new linen and it is not in the current programme, they can purchase 2 x sets at the cost of £75 plus VAT. CMOA will seek further clarification during the season.
Action: Liz Ashenden
Chairman’s Report – please refer to attached.
Madam Chairman focused on a number of areas in her report.
Management changes – although perhaps necessary for JFH she felt that the timing could have better planned as it did undermine some of the work and progress achieved
- at the AGM. It is hoped that the right managers are in the right places and further progress can now be made.
- CMOA site representatives are encouraged to touch base with managers during the season when they visit. The process over the years has been on an ad hoc basis, so following the model established by St. Ives representatives it is intended to formalise the meeting process. One or more of the site representatives will now establish with the managers a more formal meeting with an agenda and provide a written report for fellow site representatives. The next meeting will then be a follow on, pursuing issues previously aired and moving on to new ground, thus avoiding going over old ground. The meeting will take place at least twice a year and the format is welcomed by the managers and endorsed by JFH.
- Madam Chairman also highlighted the lack of members attending the Swindon meeting, 35 including partners out of a total 210 paying members and also fewer site representatives attending, leaving nobody to represent St. Ives and Perran View at today’s side meetings. Madam Chairman proposed that the committee is expanded to increase the number of representatives per site, therefore increasing the probability of a site rep being present at each meeting. Members are asked to consider offering their services at the AGM in November.
Before moving onto the Treasurers report Madam Chairman took the opportunity to pay tribute to CMOA’s long serving and retiring Treasurer Trevor Healing and to offer a warm welcome to the new incumbent Arthur Saunders
Unfortunately Trevor and his wife Margaret could not be in attendance today, however the committee felt that CMOA could not let such an occasion go unrecognised after 17 years loyal service to members. CMOA are going to present Trevor with an Alarm Clock Radio and a bouquet of flowers for Margaret. Members present showed their appreciation with a round of applause.
The Treasurer explained that he has now taken over the accounts and is familiarising himself with systems in place. Having now settled most of the bills incurred by CMOA, he is quietly confident there will be a small surplus for accounts ending 31 March 2015.
Once again owners who claim Business Rates have in the main received 100% relief resulting in a zero bill. In May a new government will be in office and whatever the colour they will need to sort out the business rates system. Under the five year review business rates should be revaluated this year, but it’s not going to happen. Large high Street chains are the main complainants of the present system as they pay a larger slice than the Internet Company achieving similar sales operating out of a large warehouse. The proposal, if adopted, is to base the rates on sales turnover, so it may well be that rates payable next year will be based on gross letting income. Hopefully it will be below the threshold that triggers payment and CMOA owners will continue to enjoy paying absolutely nothing.
JFH – Grading standards
This year sees the second full year across all sites of properties let through JFH being graded Gold – Silver – Bronze. Budget grading will not be used.
There are still anomalies which are gradually being addressed. The thing to remember is a gold standard doesn’t guarantee more income and more booking over the season. A mix is required for marketing purposes to appeal to different holiday makers. After all not everyone travels first class!
A query was raised that not only the interior but exterior determined the grade. The example given was a property being given a gold rating because the owner had installed decking and a similar property graded as silver which did not have decking. JFH have confirmed that the grade is based solely on the interior.
Owners who allow pets but whose property meets the gold standard are currently being penalised because the advertised gold accommodation is pet free. This has now been addressed. Any owner allowing pets and who considers the property rating is gold, can in the first instance inform the manager and, if agreed it is gold, will inform marketing at Ilfracombe who will promote it as such to pet owners.
A charge is made for visitors bringing pets, but under the present accounting system an owner cannot easily establish if they have received the pet income. The Secretary has asked JFH if this can be shown as a separate item on the statement. JFH have responded that it is not possible to do at the present time but will look to incorporate it once the new accounting system is running smoothly.
Owners Bookings changes
The Secretary demonstrated online the new owners booking portal on JFH website. The layout is essentially the same as before with owners having the facility to make their own online bookings and changes to those booking if they wish.
It was intended to provide the booking history from last year, however due to technical issues this data could not be transferred to the new portal. JFH have assured CMOA that this year’s bookings will be carried forward to next year allowing owners to track booking better and view repeat ones.
A number of members did not receive their new password issued by JFH. The passwords were sent by email and not received due to the email address given being incorrect. If any
member has experienced problems please ensure that Ilfracombe has your current email address and if you change it keep Ilfracombe informed.
Link to owners booking portal
The domain address has now changed and some members are having difficulty locating it on JFH website. The easiest route is via CMOA website by clicking on “John Fowler Holidays” and this will take you straight to owner’s bookings.
At some point owners no longer have a requirement for a holiday property and wish to sell it on. Once that decision has been made and the property put on the market, it is hoped a buyer is quickly found and the property is sold. Unfortunately the process can take a little longer. Most chose to put it in the hands of an Estate Agent. The initial interest shown by the agent is high but then as the months fall away with no suitable buyer on the horizon their interest fades. Part of the problem may be because Estate Agents core business is residential properties which sell at higher prices than those owned by CMOA members. These holiday properties do not in the main receive the same marketing support.
At this point the Secretary introduced an Estate Agent on the recommendation of a very satisfied member, whose core business is holiday properties and they are specialists in this field.
Members present were given an online tour of Driftwood Properties website.
The Estate Agent has a dedicated page for Tolroy and St. Ives properties on the market and will soon include Perran View and Kenegie Manor. Any owners wanting to sell or just to get a current valuation may wish to make this company the first point of call.
Driftwood Properties – Contact details
Online – www.driftwoodproperties.co.uk
Telephone – 01736 757555
Contact person – Ben Downton
If your property is currently on the market with an Estate Agent and you change to Driftwood, please ensure you cancel any existing contract in writing or you may find you have to pay double commission.
JFH Discount cards
A couple of years ago discount cards called “Privilege Card” were issued by JFH giving owners and family members a 10% saving on food and drink on any JFH site. The card expiry date is November 2014. The card can continue to be used until a new one is issued. JFH have no current plans to renew it in the near future. Newer owners since the original
issue are unlikely to have one or even know of its existence as they are not automatically issued. If you have bought a property during the past couple of years please apply to Ilfracombe if you wish to have a card.
TV Screen sizes
Those who rent a TV through JFH are being encouraged to upgrade to a 32 inch screen size as visitors, we are told, expect and demand big screen TV’s. In many cases 32 inch screen is too large for the room setting, whilst the original 19/22 are perhaps now on the small side. JFH have agreed that all new TV’s will start from 26 inch screen including a DVD player. If you require an upgrade inform the manager but it may take a little time to process the order.
Fire and Safety
Five years ago hard wired smoke and heat detectors plus emergency lighting had to be installed in holiday properties that were for let. At the same time a full wiring test programme was implemented. It appears that not all new owners since then are aware of the annual and 3 yearly checks.
For the benefit of owners since 2010 below are the requirements.
- Properties should now have a trip operated RCD consumer unit. The old fuse wired is not allowed.
- IEE regulations recommend a five year electrical test on electrical wiring. Holiday parks such as JFH who belong to the Caravan Parks Association have different requirements. Static caravans require an annual test. CMOA properties are permanent structures and are not subject to the wear and tear of caravans. CMOA agreed with JFH to carry out a 3 year test.
- The test must be carried out by an authorised electrician who possess part “P” certification and belongs to a recognised electrical body. Test certificates must be issued with both the owner and JFH having a copy.
- If during the 3 year period the electrical wiring is changed in any way a new test is required.
Smoke and Heat detectors plus emergency lighting
An annual test on the function of all smoke and heat detectors is required including emergency lighting. This is best carried out by an electrician and is proof that the system was fully operational at the time of testing. The owner is then protected against any claim by the user in the event of a fire. The emergency lighting unit is supported by a battery. The battery function should also be tested to ensure that it is capable of operation for 3 hours.
Back in 2011 the Secretary issued a government booklet entitled “Do you have paying guests”
Members present were given an online presentation of the booklet and how to access it. Unfortunately it is no longer available in printed form but can be downloaded.
Address details – www.gov.uk/government/publications/do-you-have-paying-guests
Celebrating 25 years
Next year 2016 will mark the 25th Anniversary of the forming of CMOA and proposals have been put in place for members to join in the celebrations. Full details were distributed to members with the Minutes of the November AGM. Disappointingly only 25% of the membership replied and of those 24 couples expressed an interest.
A second attempt was made in February just in case Christmas and New Year festivities distracted member’s attention.
The Secretary informed members present of the results.
Membership currently 210
Replies received 100
Number of members expressing interest 20 (20 couples)
Unfortunately with such low numbers it is not possible to go ahead with the event arrangements that Ted Hand and Simon Arkell had set up on behalf of owners. An attempt will now be made to organise an event for a smaller group who do wish to mark this historic occasion. The Secretary pointed out that only 50% of CMOA membership took the trouble to respond either by form return, email or telephone.
St. Ives – Richard Ashenden – see site report
In the absence of site representatives from St. Ives, Richard kindly stepped into the breach and produced the attached report.
Perran View – Jean Tolchard – see site report issued by Nick Muller
In the absence of site representatives from Perran View, Jean Tolchard (Deputy Chairman) chaired the meeting and reported on their behalf. Please also refer to site report issued by Nick Muller.
Members on Perran View are pleased with Matt Mitchell taking over as manager. The entrance area has now been refurbished and presents a better image for visitors. A BMX track has been set up and should prove popular with youngsters. Swimming Pool lighting has been updated and the site now has a Tree House.
As reported in matters arising the badly needed external painting of properties will not now proceed. Potholes have been filled in but are likely to break down again quite quickly. There are also a number of road drains blocked which require urgent attention.
Kenegie Manor – Barrie Hockley – see site report
The side meeting raised concerns about items of furniture disappearing from properties let through JFH. White lining on pavement edges and walkway areas has not been carried out for a few years and have now faded, raising safety concerns particularly in the dark hours. Roadways are suffering the annual problem of potholes and external lighting is prone to failing.
Action:- D Lappin
Tolroy Manor – Christopher Nell & Simon Arkell- see site report
As with Kenegie owners, Tolroy members are also concerned about the movement of equipment from properties. A request was made for JFH to provide owners with a list of items at the end the season that have either been replaced or repaired. Some owners have complained about the work required and items to be replaced on their winter works schedule. Gavin has promised to revisit the requirements and adjust/amend accordingly.
Action:- Christopher Nell
The problem of items migrating to other properties or disappearing altogether has not gone away and is of concern and annoyance to owners. A discussion then took place as to how it can be resolved. A deposit scheme was again suggested, whereby JFH take a deposit at the point of sale. The Secretary reminded the meeting that this was proposed a number of years ago, but unfortunately due to contractual reasons JFH are unable to implement it.
He then explained that CMOA had devised an “Honesty Envelope” scheme, which was introduced initially at Kenegie but was never adopted by the other sites. Another suggestion made was to establish a fund paid by visitors to replace damaged or stolen items. The Secretary pointed out that this would be classed as a “slush fund” and would contravene accountancy practice. The Treasurer confirmed it would not be allowed under money laundering regulations.
The Secretary asked the meeting to give thought to other ways of overcoming these problems. A proposal was made to carry out an inventory check when the visitor is due to depart. Sadly this is not viable as JFH due not have the staff available, however owners can help themselves by establishing their own inventory list and have it laminated and left in a prominent position in their property. This may deter visitors from removing items on departure.
A member suggested that Red Bins should be provided at strategic locations on each site for dog owners to dispose of dog waste. The Secretary agreed to discuss it with JFH.
Action:- D Lappin
A number of members would like to have internet access available in their properties and point out that more and more visitors expect the service to be available. CMOA discussed the issue with JFH and were informed that it is something they are looking into. Providing internet broadband to individual properties is not easy as each property would need to be connected to the service by cable, similar to Virgin cable television or BT landline. The infrastructure costs are immense. JFH have been approached by a number of companies willing to provide the service, but it would mean that users would be charged for access.
The Secretary informed the meeting that he normally issues an updated Service Providers Booklet at this time of the year. However members have not provided or recommended new providers other than notifying of a couple who have ceased trading, therefore it will not be reprinted at this stage. Members are asked to complete the attached form if they have any additions or deletions for the Service Providers booklet and return it to the Secretary.
The AGM will be held on Saturday 7th November at Tolroy Manor. JFH have extended the holiday season to end on Monday 2nd November 2015. This will be an ideal time for owners to check on their properties and join fellow owners at the AGM which will start at 2 pm. So make this an important date for your diary.