May 24 2013 Latest news:
John Elworthy, The Editor
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
A COUNCILLOR praised residents for “standing firm” and refusing to pay increased ground rents on their park homes until a series of disputes have been resolved.
Councillor Virginia Bucknor said lowering of street lamps on the two sites in North Wisbech – Fenland Village and Osborne Park- was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.
Cllr Bucknor said the lights were now shining into some of the residents’ windows only a metre or two from their homes.
Owners Tingdene, she claimed, had told her “the lights had been lowered on health and safety ground so that only one person was needed to change the light bulbs instead of two people.”
She said the issue had been raised with Fenland District Council who visited the parks “and whilst they agreed this was not acceptable, were unable to take enforcement action as it was on private ground.
“When residents complained to Tingdene they were told to ‘close their curtains if they didn’t like it.’ No resident was consulted about this change.”
Cllr Bucknor says the lowering of the lights had made it darker across the estate and proved a haven for criminals with the number of garden thefts on the increase.
“For the first time the residents have had rough sleepers and unsolicited people at night,” she said.
Other works outstanding have led to a rent revolt, she said, with 41 homes representing 71 residents now standing firm and refusing to pay the increase. A rent tribunal has now been fixed for October 5.
Cllr Bucknor said:”The majority of residents, mainly elderly, feel they have not been treated fairly,”
She said another major issue concerned the use of communal land which in the past had been used on several occasions to stage events and raise funds for charity.
She said Tingdene claimed to have received a noise complaint and as a result had banned any future events including a Macmillan coffee morning.
“Unlike bricks and mortar house owners, park home owners have little say and fewer rights because they don’t own the land their homes are sited on,” said Cllr Bucknor. She said Mr Barclay had promised to support a Commons Bill now going through to improve conditions for home owners.
RESIDENTS’ association chairman Terry Van-Santen blasted the decision by Tingdene to refuse permission to use the public space for events.
For many coming together for social events were the only chance to meet the rest of the community, he said.
But he promised that a Macmillan coffee morning would go ahead on Friday with residents using their drive ways to set up bring and buy sales.
“It will be a poignant site- an empty green and elderly residents outside their homes dressed in overcoats to raise money for charity,” he said.
He said the site owners should have given 28 days notice of their intention to alter street lights – a move that has affected many residents.
“It has meant they have had to re arrange their interiors, move the TV and the glare of the lamp outside has given them a feeling of insecurity,” said Mr Van-Santen.
“As far as we know we are the only park that is owned by Tingdene where the lamps have been lowered.”
He felt one reason could have been to make life easier for their 70 year old manager who had difficulty climbing a ladder.
Tingdene has been invited to comment.