Gummer's anger over holiday home

A SUFFOLK couple lost more than �20,000 on a mobile home after owners of a campsite refused to pay them anywhere near the going rate, MPs have been told.

A SUFFOLK couple lost more than �20,000 on a mobile home after owners of a campsite refused to pay them anywhere near the going rate, MPs have been told.

Tony and Mary Ellis, of Nacton, have had their plight highlighted in Parliament as part of a campaign by Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer to protect others from falling into the same trap.

Mr Gummer wants rules and regulations changed, and for an appeal system to be set up.

Mr Ellis - who has suffered three strokes and has to be looked after day and night - and his wife bought a mobile home at Carlton Meres Country Park, near Saxmundham, to make their lives easier.

They bought the home with their life savings in 2007 for �28,280, on condition there would be a proper path to the home and a proper ramp for Mr Ellis's wheelchair so he could get in and out of the property.

However, after the park changed hands, the ramp was not provided so they decided to sell-up.

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Mr Gummer told Parliament the new company, Arncliffe Leisure, run by Tony Barney and his wife Donna, offered just �8,000 for the mobile home with no form of redress for the couple because of the current rules on such properties.

The company's new directors had withdrawn it from the National Caravan Council, which would have offered a right of appeal, and neither Suffolk Coastal council or the Financial Ombudsman Service had any powers in the matter.

Mr and Mrs Barney and were not available for comment.

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MP John Gummer said the treatment of Tony and Mary Ellis had made him furious.

He told the House of Commons he is writing to every solicitor and estate agent in his constituency about the behaviour of the mobile home park owners.

“Under their original agreement, it was said that they would certainly be able to sell it at a proper price,” said Mr Gummer.

“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.

“Lifestyle Living, Arncliffe Leisure and a dozen other organisations are owned and run by a Mr A J Barney and his wife, Mrs DM Barney, and operated under the close supervision of the solicitors Johar. They are a disgrace to what could be an important part of the provision of housing for people in Britain.

“I could go into great detail about the sadness that I feel for my constituents, but I hope that the House has recognised just how serious the matter is.

“I hope to be able to show, to every lawyer and every estate agent in the area covered by Carlton Meres, the dangers of conveyancing any such home to anybody.

“Unless there is some protection, people will be left at the mercy of an organisation that does not seem to have a single drop of the milk of human kindness at all.

“Who in this world could possibly say that it was proper to take �20,000 from an old couple, one of whom is severely disabled, who bought a caravan in March but had to sell it in October because the company failed to do what it promised to do in the first place?

“In my 30 years as a Member of Parliament for a Suffolk constituency, I have rarely been as angry as I am about this, and about the fact that people can be defrauded in this way, and that there is no proper way of getting any sort of recompense.”

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