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The Mobile Homes Bill moves a step further towards becoming law

Legsl helpFollowing the debate during the Second Reading of the Mobile Homes Bill, it was published (see December issue, page 76) and went forward to the Committee Stage in late November where its provisions were scrutinised in great detail.

In that Committee, Mr Don Foster, Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, thanked members for the development of the Bill, adding that it was important because it will bring some redress to older and vulnerable people living in mobile homes who sometimes suffer at the hands of unscrupulous park site owners who have no respect for their rights or their health and safety.

Adding that he was pleased to be supporting the Bill on behalf of the Government, he said that when it is enacted it will make a huge difference to the lives of many mobile home residents. ‘This light-touch legislative proposal will not impact significantly on those site owners who run decent businesses operating within the law,’ he said. ‘Basically, the Bill creates a level playing field to ensure that there is not unfair competition from unscrupulous site owners who ignore their obligations and the rights of others. It will help to put the industry on a sustainable footing for the future – one in which good owners can flourish and unscrupulous owners will wither.’

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A united front wins through

Dec76legalThe second reading of the Mobile Homes Bill goes ahead unopposed. We report on this momentous development for park home dwellers

The Second Reading of the Mobile Homes Bill was debated in the House of Commons on 19 October and was passed unanimously. It will now be subjected to minute scrutiny at the Committee stage and hopes are high that it will be enacted in the spring of next year.

The Bill’s sponsor, Peter Aldous MP, had previously stated that Private Member’s Bills were required to be short, and therefore he was only going to address three aspects of the many wrongs that needed to be righted within park home legislation. He has kept to that plan, but even so the Bill runs to a massive 15 clauses.

As it is anticipated that the Committee Stage will see a great number of amendments before the Bill goes forward to its next stages, we are not going to produce it in total here, but will try to summarise its salient points.

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Mobile Homes Bill

NovLegalThe second reading of the Mobile Homes Bill will be happening soon. Its sponsor, Peter Aldous MP, gives a sneak preview of some of its contents

The second reading of the Mobile Homes Bill, introduced by Peter Aldous MP (Waveney) was due to take place on 19 October. However, some residents got a sneak preview of its contents when Mr Aldous addressed a road show event organised by park home insurance specialist Towergate in early September.

A panel of speakers, including Mr Aldous, spoke to the residents at the event, which was held in Needham Market, Suffolk.

Mr Aldous told attendees that he couldn’t set out the exact detail of what is in his Mobile Homes Bill ‘We have one draft at present,’ he said, ’and there may be things that need to be tweaked and the protocol is that the first people to know the detail should be inside rather than outside Parliament.’

‘It has been difficult to draft,’ he said, ‘because you are amending three Acts of Parliament and we are changing the legislation in England but Scotland and Wales are going ahead with their own legislation.’

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Residents reinforce resolve

OctLegalPark home residents from the south-west gathered in Exeter to draw attention to the urgent need for all residents to persuade their constituency MPs to support the second reading of the Mobile Homes Bill

Residents feel very strongly about the practice of ‘sale blocking’ by park owners as was evidenced by the large attendance at a rally held in Exeter at the end of July. Organised by the JBS Residents’ Action Alliance, it took place in a square in the heart of Exeter’s pedestrianised shopping area, and attracted the attention not only of park home residents who had come together from parks all over the south-west, but also of some of the shoppers, too, who paused to listen. Afterwards, some of those shoppers came forward to find out more, commenting that they had no idea of the abuses that people living in park homes experience and were surprised that the agencies responsible were not more pro-active in protecting elderly residents from exploitation.

Fortunately, the sun shone throughout this open-air event which was attended by about 140 nominated delegates from retirement parks in the area. Many had large banners and placards with them while others wore T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan ‘Rogues Out – Criminals Out’.

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Strength in numbers

SeptLegalSpeakers at the first National Park Home Owners’ Congress welcomed proposed new park home legislation

The ‘fit and proper person test’ for park owners and whether or not it was likely to be included in the proposed new legislation was raised by Stephen Gilbert MP when he addressed the first National Park Home Owners’ Congress, in Birmingham on 30 June.

Mr Gilbert MP (St Austell and Newquay) had introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill on this topic in the House of Commons last year and he still holds the view that a ‘fit and proper person test’ should be applied to the park’s licence holder. His argument is that anyone in charge of accommodation where a number of owners are elderly and potentially vulnerable should be ‘fit and proper’.

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Getting tough

AugLegal Parliamentary Select Committee which was set up to look into park homes has now collected evidence and produced a report which recommends some quite radical changes to legislation and regulation.

Such was the level of complaints that MPs had been receiving from their park home resident constituents that on December 21 last year the Government launched a Select Committee Inquiry into park homes, with written evidence being called for by 1 February this year. Despite a short response time, 338 replies were received, the contents of which prompted the Select Committee to call specialist witnesses to elaborate on some of the topics raised.

Four oral evidence sessions were held, with park owners, park home residents, national residents’ associations, organisations representing park owners, trading standards representatives, the police aand consumer protection organisations participating. Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, answered questions from the Committee at the final session.

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