Parentdish are campaigning against the higher cost of family holidays over the holiday periods. As a parent, and a grandparent, I am sympathetic. I cannot agree with parents who think it is OK to take children out of school in order to save a few hundred pounds -a decision which might affect their later examination results, career prospects etc. A decision to have a family should be taken in the clear knowledge that children are expensive -but are worth every penny.
I’d like to make few points from the perspective of a part-owner of a Furnished Holiday Let bungalow in Combe Martin, North Devon. My business partner is a lawyer; I’m an accountant; we were both keen walkers; we thought that we could create a little holiday-letting business in the fantastic walking area, close to Exmoor and the South West Coastal Path. Once the mortgage is paid off, the bungalow, (‘Carpenters’) , may contribute a small amount of income to our retirement pots.
In the meantime we still have the mortgage to pay – £7000 pa. Other costs (rates, light, heat, water, caretakers and cleaners, website, advertising and marketing, repairs, travel costs etc) total a further £6000 pa approximately. But for the fact that we handle our own bookings we would face the additional costs of agents fees. Then we have the capital costs of replacing furniture and equipment and keeping the property up to scratch. Visitors expect a couple of modern flat-screen televisions,etc. Last month we replaced the en-suite bathroom, put new carpets in the three bedrooms, replaced the bed in the double bedroom with a king sized bed, and replaced the tumble drier.
So we need letting income of approximately £13,000 pa minimum to cover the ‘revenue’ expenditure plus more lettings to cover the ‘capital’ costs. We’ve owned ‘Carpenters’ for twelve years and we expect to have to keep paying money into the business until the mortgage is repaid.
Sadly there are fifteen weeks or so in any year when people just do not want to visit North Devon. We use some of these dates to carry out maintenance etc. Just last week we experienced the spectacular, if (for some) devastating tides. Fortunately most of Combe Martin is nor affected by these freak events. Combe Martin is fantastic at any times of the year.
So we have to earn our income over – in a good year – thirty five weeks – which is not always achievable in view of the competition from other properties, hotels, caravan parks and holiday camps. Furthermore we know that there are only ten or so ‘banker’ weeks, when we have to earn almost half of our income.
Much as we’d like to charge £500 for this, the first week of February, we know that, in reality, anyone interested in booking ‘Carpenters’ would laugh at us.
Those are the facts of life. But do please have a look at our website (www.cottagesindevon.com) and our Facebook page and Twitter site. we need all the followers,friends and re-tweets that we can get
…………There! I knew that heading would make you look! Well; on this rainy windy morning my wife, Carol, picked me up from my appointment at FPH and she drove to Camberley, where Carol was hoping to buy some gloves at the wonderful HM Supplies on the slip road. Carol said we might park in the ‘Permit Holder Only’ bays for a couple of minutes, as they were sure to be empty, and it was unlikely that we’d bump into any traffic wardens on a morning like this, and for so short a time. Oh Yes? Carol got out of the driving seat and I opened the passenger door to get myself into the driving seat and move off to a legal parking area. However I was confronted by a lady who warned me not to even think about parking there as I’d get a ticket. I looked round and- guess what – the parking wardens were walking down the road putting tickets on windscreens. I though to myself are those wardens ever not on the slip road? The kind lady told me where she lived, said she was disgusted with the council, and would never vote Conservative again. I offered to pass on a message to her councillors if she would send me an email, but she refused, saying even thinking about the issue made her too cross.
Some weeks ago I discovered that elsewhere in Surrey, in Permit Holder Only zones, there are bigger signs, at a more readable height. We now have those signs on the slip road, yet people are still parking there! We are all creatures of habit; I confess that I don’t walk around an area where I’ve parked for many years looking for signs. Are the new signs sufficiently clear I ask?
Rev. Bruce Nicole’s petition, which closed on February 2nd after being on the SCC website for a month, attracted almost 900 supporters. The petition will be heard at the Surrey Heath SCC Local Area Committee meeting at Collingwood School on March 13th. Petitions are normally heard soon after 6-00pm.
What saddens me so much, as a councillor, is that people like me do a considerable amount of work for our residents, our community, the Borough and the County. SHBC and SCC on the whole do a pretty good job, under quite difficult circumstances. Yet the issue over the notice and signage of these newly created Permit Holder areas has caused an enormous amount of bad feeling against the councils and the councillors.
There are serious lessons to be learned. In the meantime I hope that this blog will save a few more people from an unwanted parking fine