At this month's New Forest Consultative Panel, the Deputy Surveyor, Mike Seddon, gave basic details of the Forest Holidays proposed campsite retail van, for which he will be asking the Verderers approval in the May Verderers Court. Having taken over the running of the shop at Holmsley campsite last season, Forest Holidays, a joint venture between the Forestry Commission and The Camping and Caravanning Club, wish to extend the shop's offering to three other campsites, Holland's Wood, Roundhill, and Ashurst.
The Deputy Surveyor's presentation focussed on Forest Holiday's aim of carrying New Forest Marque® products on the van, and branding the van itself with the New Forest Marque®. The New Forest Marque® is a branding scheme to promote and identify New Forest produce.
(see http://www.newforestproduce.com/about_the_marque.html for more info).
Forest Holidays will be promising the Verderers "that they are prepared to give preference to local products as far as possible." They also claim "an ancillary benefit" would be reducing car journeys by campsite visitors.
Panel members slammed the proposal for its disregard for local businesses and the environmental impact on the fabric of the forest. Peter Roberts of the New Forest Association suggested that the proposals were merely "a sideshow", and that given the statutory duty to insure that the Ancient and Ornamental woodland is kept in good or improving condition, that instead the Forestry Commission should be seeking to "remove the commercial element from the forest" which is doing actual damage to the land. Peter Sopowski, Ashurst and Colbury Parish Council, described the proposal as "a retrograde step" and that the shops dependent on the campsite trade in Ashurst are in easy walking distance of the campsite, and said, "it's not the thin end of the wedge, it's the sharp end." Olive Collins, New Forest Shops Association, said she had "a feeling of deja vu"and gave a potted history of previous attempts to run mobile shops on the campsites, leading to closures of local shops, outrage, the Verderers Court filled to bursting, and the removal of the mobile shops.
[To read a full transcript of the Deputy Surveyor's statement, see the first comment below, or click here.]