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Man who lost his savings when a holiday lodge company went under is left shattered after being dealt another financial blow

PUBLISHED: 05:30 09 February 2019 | UPDATED: 08:55 11 February 2019

Mark Huggins, an investor in the Dream Lodge Group. Picture: Mark Huggins

Mark Huggins, an investor in the Dream Lodge Group. Picture: Mark Huggins

Archant

A man who faces losing his £135,000 investment after a holiday park operator went bust is now struggling with severe anxiety after receiving a demand for site fees on lodges he cannot use, or rent out.

Mark Hughes is one of many investors across the country who were left severely out of pocket when the Dream Lodge Group collapsed last month.

The group, which was owned by Walsham Chalet Park Ltd, was based in Clacton and operated eight sites across the country, including Norfolk Park Homes in North Walsham and Fornham Park in Bury Saint Edmunds.

MORE: Holiday lodge operator with parks across East Anglia collapses into administration

Mr Hughes, a 59 year-old from Cornwall, had invested the money left to him by his late mother in a £100,000, 42% share of a luxury lodge on The Laurels, Norfolk Park, which boasted a heated outdoor swimming pool, an on-site gym, spa and bike hire.

Dream Lodge Group at Norfolk Park. Picture: Gregg BrownDream Lodge Group at Norfolk Park. Picture: Gregg Brown

He also bought a £35,000 share of a lodge on another Dream Lodge Park at Newbury, The Sanctuary.

Mr Hughes says that the company promised him a “guaranteed return” on his investments of 8% per month.

“Dream Lodge Group had been in business for over 50 years - they seemed to be a professional company, and a wise investment,” said Mr Hughes.

Mr Hughes had been relying on this ‘guaranteed’ return on investment - which amounted to a monthly income for him of almost £900. But these payments dried up last October.

Dream Lodge Group at Norfolk Park - Olive Tree restaurant. Picture: Gregg BrownDream Lodge Group at Norfolk Park - Olive Tree restaurant. Picture: Gregg Brown

When he realised that the company he’d invested so heavily in was facing financial collapse, Mr Huggins admits that his mental health took a turn for the worst, ruining his Christmas and causing him to get signed off work for three months with severe anxiety.

Dream Lodge Group went into administration with Deloitte last month.

Mr Hughes claims to be owed £2,700 for his ‘guaranteed’ monthly investment return since October, on top of the £135,000 he initially invested.

On Thursday, Mr Hughes was dealt another shock when he received an invoice from Deloitte, requesting a payment of £1,464 in site fees for 2019, and another £126 for water and sewage.

Dream Lodge Group at Norfolk Park. Picture: Gregg BrownDream Lodge Group at Norfolk Park. Picture: Gregg Brown

“Talk about a nerve!” Mr Hughes said.

“I felt ripped off before, and now this invoice from Deloitte on top has shocked me to the core.

“I should be invoicing them, for lost income - not the other way around.”

Mr Hughes claims that Deloitte had written to him on previous occasions stating that there is no money left in the Dream Lodge Group company account.

Simon Moir, director of the Dream Lodge Group which has gone into administration. Picture: Screengrab from Dream Lodge Group promotional video YouTube. YouTube/The Dream Lodge GroupSimon Moir, director of the Dream Lodge Group which has gone into administration. Picture: Screengrab from Dream Lodge Group promotional video YouTube. YouTube/The Dream Lodge Group

At least some of the Dream Lodge holiday parks were kept open during January and February, as Mr Hughes claims there were around 300 holiday bookings that had been made for the parks’ lodges.

“Deloitte also stated that many staff would be laid off, and just a skeleton staff would do basic and essential maintenance,” said Mr Hughes. “I’d like to know just why they need every lodge owner to pay the entire years site fees.

“In effect, Deloitte are asking owners to throw more money down the drain to subsidize a sinking ship, while they try to find a buyer.”

Mr Hughes claims that the total savings he has left to draw on now stands at just over £9,000, leaving him “struggling financially to cope” in the future if he paid the bills from Deloitte.

“I have spoken to a legal consultant, who says it seems remarkable that I should be asked to pay site fees.

“It has caused me a lot of upset and a real downturn in my condition.

“I think Deloitte’s attitude to people already traumatised by the firm going bust is atrocious.

“Now I feel that rather than helping those unfortunate people who have likely lost a lot of money, the administrators are instead sticking the knife in deeper, probably for the sole purpose of covering their own expenses.

“This is so categorically wrong.”

Mr Hughes has told Deloitte that he will not pay the money unless they can prove to him that the company has been successfully sold, and that the new owner will either honour all the return on investments, or pay investors a dividend.

Deloitte have been contacted for comment on the case and a response had not yet been received.

A former manager at the group, Mark Kent, previously told the EDP newspaper that he believes the losses will run into many millions, as some investors paid for homes which were never built.

Mr Kent claimed as many as 50 lodges, which the firm had taken money for, had not been constructed.

“People have invested upwards of £50,000,” he said. “They have invested in fresh air.”

He also said lodge owners who rented their properties had been calling him, asking why they had not been paid rent.

“I am so appalled and am ashamed to have even worked for this company,” he said.

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