Caravan club size limitations

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by PeteH, Dec 29, 2008.

  1. PeteH

    PeteH Funster

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    Hi

    As a 35+ year member of the Caravan Club, who for very many years was also a regular, caravan towing, centre rallyer I am concerned to observe behaviour that could even be construed as "discriminatory", by the officers and some wardens, within the club. I refer to the growing tendency towards size limitation on Club sites. These limitations are effectively only aimed at members who use larger motorhomes, mostly, but not exclusively American, of 28ft (8.52M) and over The legal length of a caravan (in the UK) being 7M (22.98ft) NOT including drawbar, "long" caravans are deemed to be OK?.

    However with the lengths of even European built motorhomes now reaching towards 9M, there is a growing requirement for access to sites with pitches capable of taking the bigger unit, and it is no longer the case that it is only American motorhomes (R-V`s) which are necessarily "oversized". In fact to be pedantic, it is the case that a 7M caravan plus a 7 seat tow vehicle can be an "oversize" outfit, indeed longer than mine @ 30+ft, and before the purists throw up their hands in horror, YES, I accept that your outfit bends in the middle, and is "detachable", BUT unless you have the experience, you can get into a lot of trouble accessing your pitch, that is after you access the site, and which is exactly the same for the driver of a motorhome.

    Having driven, professionally, LGV`s as well as my own R-V`s, AND on top of a considerable number of years with caravan outfits large and small. I feel that I am best placed to decide which site I can get onto, and which pitch is useable and which not, and NOT to have to bow to the decision of someone who may not have this knowledge, ie if you ain`t done it, you are not in the position to criticise!.

    Recently Dick Kingswell, Publisher of the "Big Pitch Guide", an excellent work of reference for those who do have large outfits, was forced to draw attention to this tendency within the CC circuit of "locally applied" size limitations, and his reasons , published elsewhere, (ARVE Magazine for those interested) included the fact of the inconsistency of behaviour by individual site wardens, some of which appear to be based on personal prejudice and not logic.

    Now, before I am accused of "warden bashing", let me state categorically that my many years of experience as a CC member have, by and large, been good, the vast majority of wardens are of the "unsung heroes" variety. However this does not excuse the minority, and their managers, who for whatever reason DO perform acts of discrimination towards individual members with regard to the interpretation of "rules".

    Recent personal experience, when as a regular user of the Rowntree Park site (York) I was advised that "you are oversize", has left me wondering how such decisions are made?. e.g. My R-V is 30ft+ long, BUT the wheel base is relatively short (largish overhang) this however means that I can manoeuvre as well as a Car/Caravan outfit add to that the wheel "cut" angle (for the uninitiated "wheel cut" is a term used for the maximum angle the steering will go to) which gives me a surprisingly small turning circle, relative to actual perceived size, (unlike a lot of front wheel drive, and FWD vehicles where the drive train design necessarily restricts the turning circle) the only real drawback is the length of front and rear overhang, a factor one gets used to (like most trucks) This overhang has a benefit viz; the use of smaller pitches in that I can sit on hardstand and overhang the grass area behind, without damaging the grassed area, OK, the warden may not be able to cut the little bit of grass during the period of my stay BUT I do far LESS damage to grass than the average caravan awning!!. The foregoing features have also allowed me to access some of the notoriously restricted Spanish pitches, when others have tried (and failed).

    Another "bone of contention" current is the tendency among some members of the club to "book" pitches, and fail to advise cancellation, Recently on one site I asked the warden why when the site was "fully booked" I had had 10 pitches in "my" vicinity alone unoccupied for the whole period of my stay. The reply being that they had ALL been booked, some, had been cancelled, but most had not. This to me is non acceptable and I think it is high time a "non refundable" booking fee was introduced. Make it transferable , if cancellation is made early enough, but otherwise No refund. It has also been alleged that on "popular" sites members are booking a whole seasonal raft of pitches, most of which remain empty, even over the busiest periods. because the wardens cannot release them in case the member turns up!! IF this where found to be the case then those members engaged in that practice deserve to be sanctioned, even to having membership withdrawn.

    What is the answer?. I must confess I am not too sure, but something needs to be done, and quickly, So come up with suggestions?, mine would be to amend the Caravan Club`s Constitution in order to clarify the foregoing situation(s) in order to make the member the lead figure, and also to give the member the responsibility for their own actions, not forcing the decisions onto the wardens who have enough to contend with as it is.

    With this in mind I am proposing the following motion, to be submitted at the Caravan Club AGM. It is subject to debate and fine tuning, but along the lines of:-

    This motion proposes that the current "ad-hoc" system of size limitation on some club owned or managed sites is reviewed along the following lines:-

    1) decisions regarding maximum size to be allowed on any club owned or managed site are made advisory ONLY. Where a member has specific knowledge of previous use by themselves OR others, of suitable pitch(es), and is confident of their ability to access said site/pitch without damage or causing any more inconvenience than any other type of outfit. that decision should be for the member.

    2) wardens/site managers should be advised that a member phoning ahead to clarify a pre-booked pitch, should be advised of which pitches are available and be authorised to make a limited reservation of such pitch until the end of that (arrival) day, the warden(s) are also authorised to take a members advises about the suitability or otherwise of specific pitches, where this information is known by the member, but may not be known to a warden (this would help to cover cases where wardens change etc.).

    3) The current "rule" which currently precludes the general "reserving" of pitches should be amended to allow such limited discretionary reservation. To do this would also benefit those disabled campers. As, for example, in the case of "reservation" of pitches for disabled persons, for example close to facilities block, OR on a "hardstand" whereby to facilitate wheelchair use is desirable.

    To assist in the reduction of "lost" site nights due to "failure to show" it is proposed :-

    4) the introduction of a non refundable booking fee ,(£x) per night booked, under this scheme bookings would be held for (x) days pending arrival of fee, after which the pitches would be released . Other than for provable medical type emergencies, cancellation would result in loss of the fee OR in case of early cancellation, transfer to another booking, but no refund.

    A side effect of the rule (3) change will also bring the club closer into line with current disability discrimination legislation.

    I would welcome feedback on this proposal, And if I go ahead, will also need seconder(s) in order to place the motion on the agenda at AGM.

    Pete
     
  2. DuxDeluxe

    DuxDeluxe Funster Life Member

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    Sound sensible enough.......
     
  3. moandick

    moandick Read Only Funster

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    I will very happily second your motion, Pete - as well as being able to supply some background details to the problems that you have exposed.

    I have been a member of the Caravan Club since 1987 and was a Warden from 1990 to 1996. (current membership number: 12096775)
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2008
  4. PeteH

    PeteH Funster

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    CC Size limits

    Hi

    Thanks. the object for the moment is to

    1) highlight what I feel are a growing problem


    2) test the level of suport (or not) for action similar that proposed.

    to that extent, feedback )for or against) will be welcome

    Pete
     
  5. MicknPat

    MicknPat Funster

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    Pete,

    I fully agree with you posting on both the C.C 'oversize' issue and booked pitch cancellations not being charged. :Angry:

    What is required is for ALL Caravan Club members and even non- members who have tried to use a non-members site to report such incidents to a central location.

    The problem is there are loads of caravan and motor home forums on the Internet, but then not ALL persons who have been effected by the incidents highlighted in this thread are members of all those forums.

    No, if just one forum were to become the collator of such incidents we would at least see just how BIG or isolated these incidents are.

    This would require ALL other motor home and caravan forums to agree and direct their member who had experienced a CC incident to the collator's forum to report the 'incident'.

    What do other MHF members think? :thumb: or :thumbdown:

    Mick
     
  6. ourcampersbeentrashed

    ourcampersbeentrashed Funster

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    Having only had membership of the caravan club once and for just one year, I did not find it particularly beneficial and observed discriminatory practices hence I didnt bother renewing.

    Currently the behaviour and actions at certain sites leave the club wide open to cases against them under the Disability Discrimination Act and I think your posting is a very sensible one.

    I wish you good luck xxxxx
     
  7. camcondor

    camcondor Read Only Funster

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    Agree totally - am a current member, but not sure how much longer we'll bother - can never get a booking on any half-decent CC site as some t"£$ers book them up instantly on the day bookings open and then don't pitch up !!!! :Sad:
     
  8. New Rover

    New Rover Read Only Funster

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    I also am a current member of the CC. Being new to the Motorhoming fraternity I know I have a lot to learn and I only joined the CC so that if I couldn't find a good wildcamp spot then I could always just nick into a CC site for the night without looking for non-membership places.
    I wondered why everybody seemed to book up places on the opening days of being allowed to do so.
    From your post Camcondor, are you telling me that people can book up lots of sites and then not bother to turn up without suffering ANY financial penalty?
    If this is so, then I for one will not be renewing my membership until this situation changes.
     
  9. PeteH

    PeteH Funster

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    Update

    Hi

    I have to be careful here. The report of "bulk" booking was given to me in confidence, so It is to be treated as an unconfirmed "rumour". However I do agree that the practice IF it exists should be considered to be against the interests of ALL members of the club.

    I would believe that a (computer) programme can be written to conduct a search of the club reservation database to compare bookings with Names/Membership numbers and to cross reference those with "No Shows" which would at the end of a full year produce the names of persons allegedly carrying out this practice, and doing so would, if nothing else give lie to the "allegations"? wheras IF the practice was confirmed this would add weight to the case for a "booking" fee?.

    My primary concern however is to deal with the practice of setting "local" limits on Motorhome length when the Member has been using the same site/pitches in the past and where often the Only difference has been a change of warden or area managment. And to put the initiative Back into the hands of the Membership.

    Pete
     
  10. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    I'm in full agreement with you peter,


    although i rarely use CC sites i also have noticed a lot of members do book as many sites as possible at the start of the new booking year so they have the pick of sites as and when they feel like like using them.

    i believe this has been mentioned in the club magazine and the idea of a non-refundable deposit was brought up and promptly dismissed as non-viable.

    as to the size issue.....i have not had a problem with this but my 'van is 24ft long so would not be classed as 'oversized' but i do feel its discrimination against those with large motorhomes, whether a euro or an RV.

    my other bone of contention is the charge for an 'extra' vehicle.
    my kontiki is around 24ft, the same size as my caravan.
    add to that another 12ft for my toad and we arrive at 36ft.
    now if you add another 15ft to my caravan for the tow pickup we arrive at 39ft........
    no extra charge for the caravan and pickup but an extra car charge for the motorhome and toad.
    how is this charge arrived at......the toad is shorter than the pickup by 3ft but the 24ft caravan/motorhome is left onsite....no difference in my book.

    anything needing signing or form filling please let me know and i'll gladly sign it.

    john.
     
  11. olley

    olley Funster

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    Pappa said: "my other bone of contention is the charge for an 'extra' vehicle."

    Hi Pappa I have never been charged for an extra vehicle at a CC site, have you got that wrong?

    Olley
     
  12. moandick

    moandick Read Only Funster

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    No, you haven't got it wrong, Olley - it is one of those 'creeping' habits that is becoming the norm - some 'managed-under-contract' sites (I don't know the modern term for them!) charge their own prices minus a deduction for CC Membership but they do charge for the 'extra' car - similar to the CCC and the Forestry Commission sites where apparently they 'sometimes' charge for dumping the black tank - no matter how long you have stayed with them.

    And that is not to mention the sites where they try to charge for awnings - even for the awning attached to the RV where the legs stay firmly fixed to the RV and nothing on the awning actually touches the ground!

    The Caravan Club 'proper' charge is for a unit - and a unit is a car/caravan or motorhome/toad - or even a motorhome/tent trailer.

    The Caravan Club Sites have very strict rules about what should be paid for and what should not - the Wardens have no say in the matter whatsoever.

    The problem then comes with THE TRAILER - so now you have an RV, a Trailer and a Car - that is when the 'extra' bit comes into force - the trailer needs to be parked somewhere - so if you cannot get it onto your pitch complete with RV and Car, you have to park it on the car-park, and as such it becomes liable to an 'extra' charge.

    Some Sites, very few at present, are biting the bullet and have just the one price for a pitch, irrespective of what you park on there, or how many people you have on there, or how many dogs/children/bicycles etc., etc., etc. They charge one standard price for the pitch (maybe one charge for low season and one for high season) and they are beginning to prosper as people begin to realise that they are not being 'ripped off' by profligate charging.

    By the By - we have even heard of one site where they proposed to charge for the number of 'axles' in contact with the ground - I don't think they have yet managed to get their heads around the problem of 'lifting' tag axles.
     
  13. roadtraveller

    roadtraveller Read Only Funster

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    WELL SAID PETEH. we have been told on several sites by Wardens, about bookings made and then the members not turning up, so I don't think it is confidential, the Wardens want it common knowledge, so all of us who are members of the CC, can change this stupid practise. When anyone books, a non-returnable deposit should be paid, with the exception, of illness, and upon receipt of a Doctors note, the holiday can be arranged for another date. The problem at Rowntree, is the run up to the site is so narrow, and it is a smallish site, compared to some. We can never get on there, and it is a lovely site. The other thing you have to be careful with a longer vehicle is when you visit Hampshire, in particular Winchester, my O/H is disabled and we have a 23ft van, and we parked in the car park in the town, and because the back overhung, and even though the Disabled Pass was displayed, a ticket was issued, starting we were not wholly in the bay. :Angry: W e did write and protest, but the Council didn't relent, the little jobsworth. So be careful, if you are down there, WATCH WHERE YOU PARK.
    :Angry:
     
  14. Jan Pendreigh

    Jan Pendreigh Read Only Funster

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    I do agree that the CC should take deposits, after all the C&CC do, and in this age of computers and plastic cards it shouldn't be that difficult. Also, everyone has a membership number which is registered on the club computer, why not a 'two no shows without good reason and you're out' rule? After all, if I can check my past and future bookings on line then so can my club.We have been told on several sites (both clubs) that we are too big (34'+14' car trailer). In some places it is because, although our wheelbase would fit on the hardstanding, the hook up posts are in the middle at the back of the pitch and therefore we would not be able to overhang. This is fair.In other cases it is because the access road to site is not suitable (and when you are a first time visitor and booking from a distance you tend to trust the warden/hsm on this one). Google earth does help but not always!On two sites we have been told that at our length, we could not manoeuvre onto pitch without running on their grass. Quite how they rate Merv's driving skills to enable them to determine this I know not.Sometimes the wardens and hsms know the sites well enough to refuse us with good reason but I do suspect that, on occasion ..........................Jan
     
  15. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    I agree with all that's been said, but quite frankly, afaic club sites are too expensive, too restrictive and too busy, nor do we need fancy facilties which we never use, there are plenty of great CLs and private sites that are far cheaper..

    When we came back from France we intended to book into one of the 'Sixer sites' ( £6 per night all found) but as soon as I mention 'RV' I was curtly informed that we were 'too big', so after many years I have let my membership lapse and won't be renewing ..

    Good luck with the motion..


    Jim
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2008
  16. Bulletguy

    Bulletguy Read Only Funster

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    Blimey :Eek!: Wondered when this guy was coming up for air!

    The simple answer though is obvious. Don't join.
     
  17. NEV3

    NEV3 Read Only Funster

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    Hi PeteH

    I agree on pretty much all of the issues raised. I too have been told that certain sites will not accept over 28ft, when I have already visited that site with a 32ft RV + toad. I will add however that not all drivers of large MH's are good drivers and have witnessed some disasterous parking. Almost as many as the disasterous positioning of caravans.
    I have never been charged extra for the toad but I have been charged for emptying my black tank. A little illogical really, when you consider that when using my own facilities I use far less water and deposit far less into their system.
    On the subject of prebooking of sites; yes the no-show problem is widespread and needs sorting. I seem to remember that a few years ago the CC did a one season trial of charging a deposit, but it wasn't adopted permanently so presume the trial proved the idea to be non viable
    As a CC member I will back you on this wholeheartedly and admire your initiative. Think maybe it's time I went to one of their AGM's, that I have untill now avoided like the plague.
    Good luck with any project that does get going.

    NEV3
     
  18. Reallyretired

    Reallyretired Funster

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    I agree absolutely with this thread. Many times I have had the 'last' available pitch and then been surrounded by empty but booked pitches.:Angry:

    At Rowntree Park some years ago I was told that the 24ft Kon-Tiki I had at the time was too big, however I got it on without problem. An excellent site but usually fully booked, no doubt by people with no intention of turning up.

    I have been a member for many years and am quite willing to 2nd or 3rd this proposal. Personally I would like to see the full rate being charged in advance to secure the pitch, if you're not certain whether you're going then you could just take pot-luck as there would be pitches available if there was no frivolous pre-booking. The whole purpose of touring sites is that they should cater to those who are touring, i.e. should expect to have pitches for those who turn up on the spur of the moment.
     
  19. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    This I don't understand, do they charge for emptying cassette toilets ? Do they believe owners with black tanks do more poo than those who use a Thetford toilet ?
    I can understand charging more for leccy, RVs can potentially use a lot more than a VW camper van and I could understand if they levied more for water, we have bigger tanks so we tend to use more ... but for doing more poo..??? You couldn't make it up :RollEyes::RollEyes:

    ohh I forgot, we're discussing the Club..
     
  20. moandick

    moandick Read Only Funster

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    Jim - the problem is not the average RV'er who spends time on the site - in fact, it is generally the opposite - it is the avid 'wild-parker' who spends a week out in the 'ooloo' then books into a site for one night and dumps 80 gallons of the black stuff into the site cess-pits - which the site then has to pay to have emptied.
     
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