Save our homes in Springfield Park!

24th AUG 15 104

Last week I was invited to visit Springfield Park, a static mobile home park close to the centre of Hinckley, where I met local resident and campaigner Janet Deeming, as well as the indefatigable Phil Johnson – who also campaigns for a throat cancer charity, and manages to make a great deal of noise despite needing to use an external device to communicate, giving him a voice which he compares to a Dalek.  I am with them in the picture above, outside Janet’s home in SpringfieldPark.

The term “Static Mobile Home Park” doesn’t always conjure up a very positive image, but Springfield Park challenges stereotypes.  It’s a mature estate, at least thirty years old, with well-kept lawns, mature trees and ponds.  The residents, though mostly elderly, clearly take a huge pride in their homes and gardens.

The land belonged to a local farmer, Mr. Andrews, who in turn leased it to an investor on a long lease.  This lease is due to expire early next year, giving the residents only another six months.  When they moved in, there had been talk of the lease being rolled over indefinitely, but unfortunately there is nothing to confirm that in the legal documents.

The investor has given notice that he does no wish to renew the lease.  The land, meanwhile, has passed on to the three daughters of Farmer Andrews, and they now — quite reasonably — are apparently looking to realise the value of the site, which will command a high price as building land.

There are around 50 homes, and 60+ residents, and they are naturally very concerned indeed that they will lose the homes that (in some cases) they have occupied for decades, and in which many had hoped to end their days.  If the lease simply ends and the land is sold, the homes will have little or no residual value.  Many of the residents will not be in a position to buy elsewhere, and most could end up asking the local authority to re-house them.  Some of the older residents are said to be very distressed and anxious at the prospect.

Against this background, it is hardly surprising that a Save Our Park campaign has been launched, with Mrs. Deeming at the forefront. They have a short YouTube video. There is a petition on the web-site which you may wish to support.  I must be very careful what I say about the legal position, as I am not legally qualified, but I think it is fair to say that the campaign group understands that it has no legal basis to challenge the sale of the land.  On the other hand it makes a compelling case on two grounds: first, that these long-term and elderly residents should not be cast out on the street, whatever the legal niceties; and second, that the obligation on the local council to re-house these people could prove more expensive than (say) having the council buy the land and continue to operate it and to profit from the ground rents.

I have made some enquiries and spoken to the local council, which is well appraised of the situation and (to be fair) seems to be making great efforts to find an amicable outcome.  I understand that negotiations are taking place between the parties (Council and land-owners), and that possible solution is under discussion, but it is for the parties to announce any proposal in due course.

Meantime, the residents of Springfield Park continue to worry, and the months to the end of the lease keep slipping by.  I would urge those involved to come forward with generous and compassionate proposals as soon as possible — and especially before Christmas.  It will not be a very festive season for the residents of SpringfieldPark if their future is not resolved by December.

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15 Responses to Save our homes in Springfield Park!

  1. PJ says:

    Thank you Roger, a brilliant but factual piece as ever my friend. The wider the net of support the better chance these residents have of keeping their homes. It is absolutely scandalous that even the htreat of homelessness hangs over 50 homes & 64 residents therein!

  2. Jane Davies says:

    This is outrageous I hope it is resolved for these people in a fair way. Unfortunately these static home parks are a risky proposition as the home owners are at the mercy of the landowner and this sort of thing happens all to often.

  3. Andy Kirk says:

    Thank you for reporting on our situation Roger and very nice to meet you. Can I just point out that the link to our campaign website is incorrect. It should point to http://saveourparksite.blogspot.co.uk
    Thanks.

  4. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Looked into that once…no way a mortgage can be obtained. You will need to own the land obviously. If you don’t…this is where you are and you may have a mobile home that you cannot re-locate. Councils…ok for travellers it seems?

    I remember in the mid 70’s trying to park my caravan somewhere in North Norfolk for a year. Waiting list was 20 years and I had a 20 odd foot Tabbert. What was on that site I can barely describe…well, close to wreckage mainly.

    Modern Britain…not really!

    • Andy Kirk says:

      You are right, you can’t get a mortgage on a park home. Cash payments only. Like many others, we sold our ‘brick’ house years ago and used the money left to downsize to a park home.

      As for travellers, you do seem quite right with that too! Amazing how Councils seem to find money for them and yet when over 60+ elderly people face their homes being destroyed and being left homeless, they don’t give a damn!

      Disgusting.

  5. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Mr Helmer..a question.

    Did UKIP propose candidates for the House of Lords of late? I seem to remember something about it a few weeks ago.

  6. omanuel says:

    Thank you, Roger, for promoting the causes of people, rather than those of government.

  7. afwheately says:

    If the Conservative Government can change the law to give a “right to buy” to housing association tenants then I would have thought something of a similar nature could be applied in this case. And, I expect, this case is not unique.

    From what I could tell from the news reports the Government changed the law without consultation and agreement of housing associations, so they are clearly intent on high-handed action when they think they will be doing something popular.

    • Jane Davies says:

      I think the issue here is that these people own their homes but not the land the homes sit on which is why they are at the mercy of the landowner. I wonder what protection by law they have, if any.

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