RESIDENTS living on Thorney Bay Park will finally be forced to pay council tax following a Government review.

The Valuation Office Agency has written to the occupiers of 292 homes on the Canvey Island caravan site, informing them they are now eligible to pay band A rates of £1,046 per year.

The review was sparked following an Echo investigation in 2009, which revealed people were living at the park all year round and not paying council tax.

Jeff King, owner of the Thorney Bay Road park, still claims people only live there for a maximum of 11 months a year.

Norman Smith, Castle Point councillor responsible for economic regeneration, said: “People are living there permanently and it’s only right they should contribute to the local council.

“They are taking from the borough as much as everyone else in terms of services, so why should they not contribute?”

Stephen Cole, 36, Neighbourhood Watch coordinator for West Canvey, agreed.

He said: “It’s about time they’ve done something, we’ve been asking for them to look into it for the past four or five years.

“They are draining the resources from local people. There are people on the island who can’t get their kids into local schools because they are full of children from Thorney Bay. It’s not right.”

The review means the Valuation Office Agency has decided 292 of the caravans at Thorney Bay Park are people’s main residences.

There are more than 800 homes on the site and the rest will continue to be paid for as part of the park’s business rates.

A Valuation Office Agency spokesman said: “We are continuing to work with the owners and the local authority and we will review the assessment in respect of any caravan which would appear to be occupied as a sole or main residence.”

The council tax is eligible from September 13, this year.

Mr King said charges would have to be reviewed in the light of the Valuation Office Agency’s decision.

He said: “They’ve sprung this on us and we will do what we have to do.

“As I’ve said all along, it doesn’t make a difference to us.”