Charlie Bassett’s: Stoke-on-Trent Pub and Campsite Tour
Charlie Bassett’s campsite in Dilhorne has said its operating license has been revoked by Freedom Camping, meaning it can no longer accept bookings. The campsite has 32 pitches for tents, motorhomes and motorhomes.
This comes after Freedom Camping received complaints over the past two years, StokeonTrentLive reports. These include allegations of:
- poor hygiene
- annoying behavior
- violation of the club’s terms and conditions and
- lack of supervision of visitors.
However, new tenant Paul Collins – who also runs the Charlie Bassett pub on the same site – blamed a resident for the “mainly fictitious grievances”.
Paul – who only took over the business at the start of this year and invested £20,000 in the site – fears that without camper income the pub could also be forced to close.
Paul Collins took Charlie Bassett’s pub and campsite earlier this year
The 63-year-old, from Blythe Bridge, says there has been “a long history of bad blood” between the pub and a neighbour.
He said: ‘The way Freedom Camping works is that we are licensed for five pitches and we have to apply for a license every month, if we want more, for example if there is a gathering or a public holiday, then we can have up to 30 on site.
“But Freedom says nothing has changed since the last owner, so they took the license away from us. After the decision to revoke the license, we had to stop taking new bookings.
“The next two weekends are more or less full. I don’t know if we are allowed to continue operating, but it is a bank holiday weekend and the last weeks of school holidays. I will not be responsible for ruin people’s holidays. I feel bad enough already.
“It doesn’t look like we have the right to appeal. I just feel frustrated and bitter. We put £20,000 into camping and now we have to put it away.”
Paul, who also runs the Roebuck Inn in Forsbrook, says he has constantly tried to resolve the issues. He said: “I felt constantly harassed. I got a text from them saying they were annoyed with the kids laughing and playing in the fields. He said “it gets on my nerves”. They complained about the soccer goal and as a sign of goodwill I had the goal post removed.
“Then we had the scooter club come over and one of them had a bluetooth speaker. You couldn’t even hear it on the front of the pub. That was another complaint but actually it was boy runners in the village, which had nothing to do with us.
“They claimed we had a disco on the campsite on August 12 and 13 with excessive noise, but we didn’t.
“A photo on camping booking site Pitch Up was sent to Freedom Camping saying ‘look it’s overcrowded’. The photo showed seven caravans.
Charlie Bassett’s campsite and pub have invested over £20,000 this year
“Freedom says we didn’t do anything wrong in that regard, but they’ve had enough of the noise complaints, so they’ve withdrawn the permit.
“It doesn’t matter what I look like I’m doing. I sent a message: ‘You come up with a plan, which we can work together and we can see it through.’ I haven’t heard anything since.”
Paul says if permission is not granted, 20 people who work in the pub could potentially lose their jobs.
He added: “If it seriously affects trade it’s local businesses and local suppliers who will lose out and pub staff will be out of work before Christmas. I haven’t worked out the figures yet but I don’t think so. that the pub will survive without the campsite.”
Paul said Freedom Camping has the authority to provide permits to campsites without having to obtain planning permission. But following the dismissal decision, he is now considering running for Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. After posting the news on Facebook yesterday, Paul was inundated with messages of support.
Paul said: “We’re going to capitalize on the support we’ve had. Since my initial post, we’ve had 24,500 views. Each one of them is ‘what a wonderful job we’ve done’, ‘it’s a sacred place’ This is something we have to go through unfortunately.
“It’s the start. We’ll bounce back, we’ll get board clearance.”
Freedom Camping says it has received “numerous complaints” from a local resident about activities on the site since it was accepted in 2020. While some of the complaints were called “vexatious”, others were found to be “valid”.
A spokesperson added: “We have been investigating allegations of poor hygiene, harmful behaviour, breach of club terms and conditions and lack of supervision of visitors, among other things.
“While some of the allegations seemed vexatious and had no basis, others were found to be valid. In 2021, the site was suspended and placed on an improvement notice, requiring the implementation significant changes.
“Under the new management, the site has improved, but the club has not confirmed with the site delegate that the notice of improvement has been met, so the consequences of not complying with the notice of improvement improvement continue to apply.
“This month the club were informed by Natural England that a complaint had been made to them regarding the activities, for which Natural England asked the complainant to contact the club directly.
“Upon receipt of the complaint and the evidence, the club again investigated the allegations of harmful behavior and the excessive number of caravans set up. Based on the evidence, the club considers that these activities took place and that further corrective action was therefore required.
“Unfortunately, due to the current state of the site, the only corrective action available was to withdraw our support.
“For clarity, the site was license exempt and did not hold a license, the exemption certification is an annually renewed legal right to operate a caravan and campsite under the supervision of an exempt organization. The certificate exemption at Charlie Bassett expired on August 18th and due to the decision to withdraw our support, the certificate has not been renewed.”