The Mobile Homes Act 2013, which will be implemented on 1st April, will pass most people by unnoticed. This Act, however, has come about due to persistence by a group of mobile home owners who have refused to be broken by the bullying and unscrupulous actions of some mobile park home site owners. These owners have willfully run down sites, ruining the lives of park home residents who were not part of their redevelopment plans. Typically, these site owners would run down sites, thus making the mobile homes impossible to sell. They would then step in and offer a pittance for the homes on their site. Vulnerable elderly residents would often have no choice but to sell, losing tens of thousands of pounds in some cases or continue living on the site, facing further abuse and misery.
Over three years ago, Westover Councillors Brian Smedley and Kathy Pearce took a brave contingent of owners from the Lakeside mobile home park on Taunton Road to the Houses of Parliament. These residents had seen their site deteriorate over the course of a few years from being a very pretty site with communal grass area and lake, advertised as a “site of quiet enjoyment for the over 55s” to a run-down, desolate place, where Police drug raids became the norm and access to the communal areas and lake were forbidden. It was not unusual for homes to be burnt on site around the remaining residents, who struggled to carry on normal life.
Kathy says “We had gone to Parliament to join a in a nationwide campaign and to meet a cross-party committee who were investigating the problems faced by residents on mobile park home sites. There were groups of people from all over the country with harrowing tales to tell the committee. At that time, we did not believe that it would take over three years to achieve changes in the law.”
‘fit and proper’
Brian says “This Bill, although overdue, has to be welcomed and will essentially enable Licensing Authorities (ie Sedgemoor District Council) to grant, refuse or revoke licences and to issue compliance notices to site owners if they fail to comply with site licence conditions. Crucially ,Councils will be able to determine whether an applicant is deemed to be ‘fit and proper’ to hold a site licence and refuse or revoke, if necessary.”
Kathy added “This is a real victory due to the persistence of mobile home owners and campaigners. Sadly, for many of the residents of Lakeside it has come too late as many of the original campaigners have died or moved on. However, it should provide protection for mobile park home owners from now on and is a lesson in never giving up.”