One of the great privileges of being a Member of Parliament is that, in this the most important debating chamber in the world, one can raise issues that really matter to one's constituents. I have rarely been as angry about a matter as I am about this case.
Two of my constituents, Mr. and Mrs. Ellis, have suffered the awful indignity of Mr. Ellis having had three strokes. He is therefore unable easily to look after himself and has to be looked after day and night. They decided that it would be a good thing if they had a mobile home that was easy for them to deal with. They went to a country park in my constituency, Carlton Meres, which was run extremely well by a charming couple, and they bought a mobile home at a cost of £28,280, on condition that there would be a proper path to the home and a proper ramp for Mr. Ellis's wheelchair to be pushed along so that he could use the home. Without those, there was no possibility of its being used. I have here the sales purchase agreement that was made, at the bottom of which it says: "Ramp to be provided". The ramp was not provided.
A couple of months later, the couple were told that the ownership of the park had changed. The ramp had still not been provided. By the time it came to October—they having bought the home in March and hardly having been able to enter it, let alone use it—they decided that they would sell it. Under their original agreement, it was said that they would certainly be able to sell it at a proper price. Indeed, late in October, the salesman told them that the selling price should be more or less what they paid for it because it was new and had not been used. In the event, they were provided with a sum so derisory that it is almost impossible to repeat it—having paid £28,280, a few months later they were given £8,000.
When the couple complained, the solicitor for the company, one Mr. Johar of Leicester, said that the reason for that reduced sum was that the ownership of the company had changed and they did not have an agreement with the new owners. When they wrote to me with the document, an eagle-eyed assistant of mine noticed that the name of the company from which they had purchased in the first place was the same as that of those owners. True, the directors had changed, but the company was the same company, so under the law it was responsible for everything that the previous company had agreed to.
I got in touch with the company and said this seemed to me an entirely unacceptable proposition. It did not answer any letters—that, of course, is the convenient way in which these people behave—so I looked it up and discovered that it already had a history of taking over perfectly well-run sites and then behaving in this appalling manner. I shall give one example: the Riverview and Silver Sands caravan sites in Scotland, about which the list of complaints continues. The owner appears to be a Mr. Barney, who appears on all occasions calling himself Tony and, of course, never giving his full name. It turned out that he told all the owners of the static holiday caravans that they would be required to remove them at the end of the season because he would be replacing them with residential homes. He was told by park residents and the holiday caravan owners that the site licence did not allow for that, but he made light of that, saying that it would not be a problem. He was very upset when they identified him because he is known in the business. If one looks up his directorships, one finds a whole list of caravan sites where that kind of activity continues.
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