Is the Nightstop Scheme under threat?

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Nov 19, 2010
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There has been much debate this weekend about the Motor Caravanners' Club Certified locations allowing non members to use their sites.

99% of other clubs that have been granted this Paragraph 5 exemption status are required by Natural England (DEFRA) to limit their use to members only. This is being imposed by DEFRA despite it not being part of The Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960. The guidance to organisations also states that non members can use the locations.

However it is stated on MotorhomeFun forum that the MCC has now changed its wording and will require their CL including those set upby this magazine to limit use to Members of the Motor Caravanners'Club.

This ruling benefits the large clubs and makes certicated locations by other clubs potentialy unviable. As a certificated site exemption certificate holder I queried this matter over 10 years ago and the guidance was clarified to make it clear that non members could use paragraph 4 and 5 sites. There now seems to be a change of directions over this matter. The clubs I then represented had to agree to resticting use to members only ot the certificate would not have been issued by Natural England.

What the guidance says

Q17. What are the membership requirements for different certificates?






Membership is a matter for the organisations themselves, but the use of different exemption certificates dictates who can take part.

  1. Paragraph 4 – both members and non-members of the organisation are permitted to use the site, provided they all remain under the supervision of the organisation occupying the site;
  2. Paragraph 5 – exempted organisations issue certificates stating that a site has been approved for the use of its members. However, non-members may also use the site, unless there is an agreement between the site owner and the organisation that restricts its use to members only;
  3. Paragraph 6 – only for members of the organisation holding the meeting. Membership must have been given in advance of attending meetings and must be for a longer period than that associated with attendance at only one event (usually for a full year). Both the individual and the organisation must enter into a membership agreement with the intention that it is to run its full course (although there may be genuine reasons why an individual does not remain a member for the full term). An arrangement to give prospective members a trial to see what an organisation is like by inviting them

What the Act says
Sites approved by exempted organisations
5.—(l) Subject to the provisions of paragraph 13 of this Schedule,
a site licence shall not be required for the use as a caravan site of
land as respects which there is in force a certificate issued under
this paragraph by an exempted organisation if not more than five
caravans are at the time stationed for the purposes of human
habitation on the land to which the certificate relates.

(2) For the purposes of this paragraph an exempted organisation
may issue as respects any land a certificate stating that the land
has been approved by the exempted organisation for use by its
members for the purposes of recreation

(3) The certificate shall be issued to the occupier of the land to
which it relates, and the organisation shall send particulars to the
Minister of all certificates •issued by the organisation under this

paragraph.
(4) A certificate issued by an exempted organisation under this
paragraph shall specify the date on which it is to come into force
and the period for which it is to continue in force, being a period

not exceeding one year.

John
 

gjh

Jul 28, 2011
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I agree with you, John, as to the interpretation of the legislation but, as we've also debated elsewhere, it will take a court case to change the NE/Defra stance (and there is no guarantee a case would be won).
Whilst we might not like the situation at least the legislation will be applied consistently to all exempted organisations. It remains to be seen what effect there might be on organisations which do not have exempted status.
Graham
 
Nov 19, 2010
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Wouldn't you just know it? Someone makes a small step towards a more "continental" set-up for motorhomes, and the suits immediately want to squash it.
And I agree, Graham, there's absolutely no guarantee of winning a court case about this, since not only the commercial campsites and assorted nimbys, but also the two big clubs, would be ranged against us!
(John - I've deleted your duplicate thread)
 

gjh

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It isn't really to do with moving towards a more "continental" set-up, just interpretation of the legislation.
As per John's post. Para 5(2) says For the purposes of this paragraph an exempted organisation may issue as respects any land a certificate stating that the land has been approved by the exempted organisation for use by its members for the purposes of recreation.
Because of the absence of only/exclusively between the words use and by it can be read as allowing use by non-members or not. John and I would prefer the more liberal approach (which would allow the Nightstop scheme to continue as originally conceived) but NE/Defra interpret it as if only/exclusively was included.
Only the court can decide on a point of law but the costs of mounting an action would be likely to be high. It would not involve commercial campsites or the big clubs, though, just NE/Defra and the plaintiff.
 
Aug 30, 2013
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Hi everyone,
Our joint Nightstop Scheme is still alive and well, thank you. It's designed to allow motorhomes to stop casually and cheaply overnight at a friendly pub or landowner's premises. It can also boost passing trade for pubs and hotels. This isn't the same as a full campsite, so we can't see why they'd object to it at all. We're talking to our friends at the Motor Caravanners' Club and asking questions about these new Natural England guidelines but need to wait. We believe there's no cause for alarm just now. DEFRA and DOE are nothing to do with CL licences now. Hope this helps allay fears. Meanwhile, please do support our Nightstops by ringing ahead during pub opening hours to see if they have room for you and your motorhome overnight. The full list is in every issue of Practical Motorhome magazine. Thanks, Kate
Nightstops Map
New Nightstops
How to buy Practical Motorhome magazine
 

gjh

Jul 28, 2011
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Sorry to contradict you, Kate, but it is incorrect to say that "DEFRA and DOE are nothing to do with CL licences now". The 1960 Act vests the power to grant a certificate of exemption to organisations in "the Minister". In England that is the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Natural England merely acts as his agent. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the relevant government departments administer certificates themselves.
In law, Nightstops are CLs and, as the MCC now says on its web site, "The Certificated Location/Night Stop is for use by Members’ of The Motor Caravanners’ Club only."
It is a pity that NE is standing by its interpretation but unless a court action is taken and won then that is the situation we have to live with I'm afraid. Of course, if Haymarket Media Group wished to fund such an action I don't think any motorhomers would object

Graham
 
Oct 27, 2010
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gjh said:
Sorry to contradict you, Kate, but it is incorrect to say that "DEFRA and DOE are nothing to do with CL licences now". The 1960 Act vests the power to grant a certificate of exemption to organisations in "the Minister". In England that is the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Natural England merely acts as his agent. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the relevant government departments administer certificates themselves.
In law, Nightstops are CLs and, as the MCC now says on its web site, "The Certificated Location/Night Stop is for use by Members’ of The Motor Caravanners’ Club only."
It is a pity that NE is standing by its interpretation but unless a court action is taken and won then that is the situation we have to live with I'm afraid. Of course, if Haymarket Media Group wished to fund such an action I don't think any motorhomers would object

Graham
I agree with Graham, Kate.

Years ago when the "Nightstop Scheme " was first brought in this matter was raised with Natural England and I was told they were observing the situation.
I was the exemption certificate holder for the 6th organisaion to be granted a paragraph 5 exemption.
At the time only the Caravan Club, The Camping and Caravanning Club, The Motor Caravanners' Club, The Civil Service Motor Association, Washington Caravan Club and the one I represented had this exemptions.
To get a paragraph 5 we had to give Natural England in Cambridge who had just taken over the administration from DEFRA in Bristol an undertaking that we would restrict the use to "Members Only". I queried this and in the next publication of the "Guidance to exempted clubs" booklet, they made it clear that Non members could use 5 van locations. The last update in Novermber 2013 is quoted in my first post. However they stood by the requirement that we needed to restrict our use to members only. They have done this with all new organisations since then.
The Big two CC and C&CC for whatever reason decided to make their CLs "Members Only" They were backed in this by the Association of Caravan and Camping Exempt Organisations (ACCEO) which represented 200 or so other exemted organisations, non of which had paragraph 5 exemption status.
The Motor Caravanners'Club did not go along with this and as you can see in my first post, there is no requirenent in the 1960 Act for this.
It is DEFRAs legal team have insisted on a "Members Only" rule. Natural England as their executive agents have just followed orders.
There is no reason why a small club should be so restricted and this rule is preventing the smaller clubs from expanding their network of 5 van sites, as they are unviable to landowners.
I have spoken to one MCC site and they had one MMC member on site last year. The rest of the trade was passers by. This site has invested money in providing the facilities. Now it looks like they will have to go with one of the big two to survive.
This also affects visitors from abroad who will now have to join all of the clubs to be able to use less expensive facilities. Another own goal for UK tourism.
I feel this is a restrictive practice and a case could be made to the Competition Commision.
 

gjh

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I don't think it falls into the definition of restrictive practice, John, but it's a pity there isn't a simple mechanism for some sort of judicial review to make a definitive decision one way or the other.
My contacts with NE, promoting the more liberal interpretation, indicate that they are just as frustrated by the ambiguity in the legislation.
 
Oct 27, 2010
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Kate Taylor said:
Hi everyone,
Our joint Nightstop Scheme is still alive and well, thank you. It's designed to allow motorhomes to stop casually and cheaply overnight at a friendly pub or landowner's premises. It can also boost passing trade for pubs and hotels. This isn't the same as a full campsite, so we can't see why they'd object to it at all. We're talking to our friends at the Motor Caravanners' Club and asking questions about these new Natural England guidelines but need to wait. We believe there's no cause for alarm just now. DEFRA and DOE are nothing to do with CL licences now. Hope this helps allay fears. Meanwhile, please do support our Nightstops by ringing ahead during pub opening hours to see if they have room for you and your motorhome overnight. The full list is in every issue of Practical Motorhome magazine. Thanks, Kate
Nightstops Map
New Nightstops
How to buy Practical Motorhome magazine
Hi Kate
This is from the Motor Caravanners Club website.
The Certificated Location/Night Stop is for use by Members’ of The Motor Caravanners’ Club only.
http://dev.motorcaravanners.eu/index.php/club-cl-sites/42-club-cl-sites
 
Nov 19, 2010
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Just a thought, which might help a little:
Supposing Haymarket and the MCC, who already co-operate, built on that relationship to create a situation where subscribing to PMH automatically made you a member of MCC, and Club members received a PMH subscription as a "benefit?"
I know that wouldn't solve the problem of getting a Nightstop network open to everyone, but it would improve things, and I could see benefits for both Club and magazine.
Better still, it would have the potential to create a purely motorhome-based organisation, big enough to stand alongside the two (mainly) caravanning clubs.
 

gjh

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Nice idea Tony but would it be economical?
MCC membership is about £30 pa and a PMH subscription is about £40 pa. I can't see many of those who currently have only one or the other doubling their annual outlay, especially as the total would be rather less than competitive with CC and C&CC membership charges.
Graham
 

gjh

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I've just been looking for information to answer a different CL point (other than use by
members or not) which came up on the CC's own Club Together forum and, in doing so, I came across a Caravan Club document http://www.caravanclub.co.uk/media/12212083/cl_operational_rules_2.pdf.

I was interested to see that the CC differentiates between "Club Rule" and "1960 Act" when specifying the derivation of its operational rules for CLs. I was even more interested to see that the "Rule 1: Visitors to your CL must be members of the Caravan Club" is designated as a Club Rule. That appears to indicate that the CC actually agrees with my point that the absence of the words only/exclusively means that the legislation does not exclude non-members from using certificated sites.

Perhaps, Kate, it may be helpful to pass this information on to the team which is making representations to Defra/NE regarding users of Nightstops.
Graham
 
Nov 19, 2010
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Well spotted Graham, that IS a valid point.
Btw, who is the 4th "leisure organisation" authorised to issue certificates? I only know the CC, CCC and MCC, but I've always assumed there were others.
 

gjh

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Tony Jones said:
Well spotted Graham, that IS a valid point.
Btw, who is the 4th "leisure organisation" authorised to issue certificates? I only know the CC, CCC and MCC, but I've always assumed there were others.
There are actually more than 4 organisations which hold Para 5 exemptions, Tony, so I don't know where the CC got that from. The list of all organisations holding exemptions (and under which paragraphs) is Here.
 
Oct 27, 2010
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Paragraph 5 exempted organisations http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/Images/caravan_exempts_tcm6-10046.pdfns
The CSMA (The Civil Service Motoring Assosiation) was the fourth Tony.
The club I held the exemptions for was "Three Rivers Outdoor Club" No: 371 which was the sixth.
There are quite a few now including MotorhomeFun. The numbers do not reflect how long an organisation has held a certificate under DEFRA when a clubs exemption lapsed or was not renewed they left the space vacant. When NE took over they started to fill in vacant spaces with new clubs
 

gjh

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We've received the July MCC magazine today and along with it was a booklet detailing the CL Sites & Night Stops 2014/15. That reminded me that it is 2 months now since we had the comment from Kate on behalf of PMH on this subject.
Prominent on the cover of the booklet is the legend "Exclusively for Members" and the introductory page says "As a member..........you have exclusive access to all the sites listed in this booklet".
So, over to you Kate. Obviously the MCC believes that Nightstops are no longer open to all. What is the PMH stance please?
Graham
 
Jul 15, 2014
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I've always thought of the Nightstop Scheme as barking up the wrong tree anyway. I know that Graham (MHP) likes to think that everywhere a MH stops for the night automatically becomes subject to the 1960 Act and operates as a camping site but I don't - and neither does Fylde Borough Council.
The set of MH-sized parking bays on one of the St Annes sea front car parksallow overnight parking by MHs, but there is no attempt to provide campsite facilities of any kind - the Council are merely allowing (for a fee) overnight parking. They have made a traffic regulation order to put this into effect, not issued themselves with a camping site licence. Even though they needn't actually issue themselves with a campsite licence for their own land, they would still be obliged to provide the appropriate facilities and to apply minimum campsite spacing of units - which they don't, so it isn't camping, it's car parking!
No reason therefore why pub landlords can't allow overnight parking by MHs on their (private) car park too is there? Likewise on a bit of adjacent grass if they have some?
 
Oct 27, 2010
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Hi Stuart
Graham is right in his statements.
It is an offence to cause or permit the stationment of caravans for human habitation without a site licence from the local authority with certain defined and limited exemptions. A Pub landlord with a car park or spare land falls into this category of needing a site licence or an exemption from a club. Without the exemption they are limited to one van for no more than 28 nights in a calender year. If over 5 acres unbuilt holding they can have up to three vans at any one time but are still limited to the 28 days maximum use provision

The Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960

CARAVAN SITES

Licensing of caravan sites

1.—(l) Subject to the provisions of this Part of this Act, No

occupier of land shall after the commencement of this Act cause

or permit any part of the land to be used as a caravan site unless he is the holder of a site licence (that is to say, a licence under this Part of this Act authorising the use of land as a caravan site) for the time being in force as respects the land so used.

(2) If the occupier of any land contravenes subsection (1) of

this section he shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction, in the case of the first offence to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds, and, in the case of a second or subsequent offence, to a fine not exceeding two hundred and fifty pounds.

As regards to St Annes and other councils that allow overnight parking with habitation

Provision of caravan sites by local authorities

24 A local authority shall have power within their area to provide sites where caravans may be brought, whether for holidays or other temporary purposes or for use as permanent residences, and to manage the sites or lease them to some other person.

(2) Subject to the provisions of this section, a local authority

shall have power to do anything appearing to them desirable in

connection with the provision of such sites, and in particular—

(a) to acquire land which is in use as a caravan site, or which

has been laid out as a caravan site, or (b) to provide for the use of those occupying caravan sites any services or facilities for their health or convenience;

Many authorities ignore this provision. They do not need a site licence to set up a caravan site within their own area. Club sites that allow non members are provided under this provision.

John
 

gjh

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Just come back from a 3 week plus trip and disappointed to find no response from PMH to my July 5 post. That makes it 3 months since PMH posted on this thread and yet the Nightstops scheme is still promoted in the magazine advertising as if nothing has happened.
Do those in charge of PMH think that ignoring the Natural England ruling will make it go away or is it the case that they simply won't admit that one of their USPs is no longer valid?
Graham
 
Aug 30, 2013
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Hi all,
Our scheme partners at the MCC have not pulled the plug on the Nightstops scheme. You can still stay on a Nightstop if you are a reader of Practical Motorhome magazine. The nightly fee is set by each landowner or pub and only 5 motorhomes can stay overnight.
I am still forwarding any new applications from pubs and landowners to the MCC and they're processing them as before. The Nightstops all have CL licences at the end of it.
The legal queries you have all raised do sound alarming. I will ask for their thoughts on them. I hope all these fears are unfounded.
 
Aug 30, 2013
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Hi Stuart, Our Nightstops are all granted CL licences once their application forms have been processed and approved by our scheme partners, the MCC. They're not set up as proper campsites, but then again most motorhomes have toilet facilities on board, so it's not an issue for just one night. Thanks for joining this lively debate.
 

gjh

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Thank you Kate.
As regards the legal position, I don't want to prejudice anything by saying too much but I received an e-mail only a few minutes ago indicating that the "members only" ruling is under review again.
I'll post an update when I receive more information.
Graham
 
Aug 30, 2013
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Hi everyone,
I've just spoken to Alma Turvey at the Motor Caravanners' Club. I'm glad to say that she is in regular discussions with Paul Ackers of Natural England. He confirms that the guidelines on how Certificated Locations and our joint Nightstops are run are just guidelines. The MCC got a former solicitor to write the MCC's CL wording and Paul Ackers said that he was happy with the wording.

That crucial line on any Nightstop application was this: "The Certificated Location / Night
Stop is for the use by members of the Motor Caravanners’ Club only. It should
be noted that the rights to allow access to the site remains with the landowner
at all times."

Alma makes the point that Natural England does not have unlimited funds to rewrite everything, so they tweak the wording here and there. And although Paul says that the wording is open to interpretation, it does clearly say that the landowner with a CL licence decides who can stay on his or her land.

If in future an inspector pays a visit and decides to complain to Natural England about the membership status of people staying on a CL, the final say still rests with Paul Ackers, who is sympathetic to us. Alma has asked further questions and has an appointment to discuss them with him tomorrow.

She requests that we should not rock the boat on our forum because at present she is able to have very helpful discussions with Paul Ackers and he is not raising any objections to our Nightstops or the MCC's CLs in general. (This is Natural England's guidance on small CL campsites approved by exempted organisations such as the MCC – see Paragraph 5.)

I'm glad that I am now allowed to let you know a little more of those 'behind the scenes' discussions that make our world go round more smoothly and sweetly. Please keep on using our Practical Motorhome/MCC Nightstops and enjoying their great hospitality.
 

gjh

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Thanks Kate. It is Paul that I've been in touch with about this matter since April. As you say, he is very helpful.
Graham
 

gjh

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Good News

I've just received a message from Paul Ackers, passing on information from Defra.
On 2nd May I wrote to Paul pointing out the wording of Q17 on page 13 of NE's combined guidance notes which states that "non-members may also use the site, unless there is an agreement between the site owner and the organisation that restricts its use to members only".
On consideration, Paul concluded that the Act does not prohibit non-members from staying at certificated sites
but the decision to accept them or not lies entirely with the organisation that
certified the site.
Defra have now also agreed - “Having looked through our files I see that the line in question (however non-members may also use the site…) was added to the guidance by Defra in 2003. As such I consider this to be our interpretation of the legislation (only the courts can give a definitive view) and so I agree with your conclusion that the legislation does not ban non-members in the case of para 5 exemptions, and it is a decision for the site owner and authorising organisation.”
So, the Nightstop Scheme is not under threat
Happy days

Graham
 
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