By Nicole May

THE Wilson family have been forced to say goodbye to the Cape Paterson Caravan Park after 14 years of managing the popular holiday destination.
David, Sallie and Bev Wilson were officially given the boot last Wednesday evening, when the Bass Coast Shire Council controversially decided to vote in a new tenant – from July this year.
Most of the councillors present at last week’s meeting voted against going with the new tenant – but they were outnumbered by Deputy Mayor Cr Bruce Kent’s casting vote.
Council approved the new tenant, according to some councillors, based on the substantial program of capital works and maintenance over the term of the lease with a reasonable rental return.
But the dollar value of capital works is confidential, according to the council.
The new tenant, Mexicala Pty Ltd, was granted the lease with a 20-year term.
Park manager Sallie Wilson and daughter to current park tenant David Wilson said they put forward an offer of $163,000 per annum – $63,000 more than the approved tenderer.
“These additional funds could have been allocated to the capital works of the park should we have known this was the reason for our dismissal,” said Sallie.
Sallie stated that she doesn’t believe her, or her family, were given an opportunity to submit their “best and final offer” as they would have agreed to increase their total amount of capital works to maintain their lease, as well as tightening their timeframe of upgrades if they had the opportunity.
While the tender details are confidential, it is understood that the new tenant will pay rent of $100,000 per annum (plus GST) and is committed to substantial capital upgrades in the first few years of the lease.
Cr Pamela Rothfield pointed out there were 54 submissions in favour of the current tenants that were unable to be considered because they came in after the due date.
Only two submissions were considered – as they had arrived before the deadline.
In July 2015, the current tenants developed a lease submission to council to commence proceedings to directly negotiate a new lease.
“We decided to do this because the council had previously granted a new lease to the existing tenants of the Cowes Caravan Park and therefore had set a precedent whereby direct negotiation was possible,” said Sallie.
“We then received a notice in April 2016 stating that council will not enter direct negotiation and the council’s process was to put the lease to a tender process.”
Sallie mentioned that her parents submitted a proposal pursuant to this tender in January 2018 before the process was opened as the lease has already expired two years prior.
But that hit a dead end.
“We feel our development and success of the park over the past 14 years was given no consideration during this next tender process,” Sallie said.
“We and our clients are disappointed in this arrangement and feel we were given an unfair process,” said Sallie.
“We love the people who come here. It’s become a little community that’s so safe and friendly.
“We want our customers to know we fought until the end,” said Sallie.
“Our small family business will now be taken off us and given to a corporate entity, what does that say about supporting small businesses on the coastline?”
Council CEO Ali Wastie said all involved parties were formally notified by council of its decision on the Cape Paterson Caravan Park lease.
“Under our Local Law Meeting Procedure, this means the decision has been acted on and cannot be rescinded.”