Couple lose out on thousands after falling for scam
IT should have been the retirement home one couple had dreamed of.
But when grandparents Keith and Noreen Carley bought a mobile home for £109,000 at Cotswold Grange Country Park, in Twyning, they had no idea what they were letting themselves in for.
The couple bought the home from park owner Robert Bull, 37, from Thetford in Norfolk, who had marketed it as a permanent base.
But just months after moving in to the idyllic setting, they were horrified to be told the property only had planning permission for temporary accommodation.
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They said it meant its value was £50,000 less than they bargained for and they would have to sell up.
After trading standards took up the case, Mr Bull was fined £8,000 at Gloucester Crown Court this month.
Robert Bull trading as Cotswold Grange Country Park pleaded guilty to two charges of engaging in an unfair commercial practice under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
Mr Bull misled consumers, who sold their homes to buy static caravans at Cotswold Grange Country Park, by failing to tell them that the static caravans only had planning permission as holiday homes and could not be lived in 12 months of the year. .
"The whole experience left us totally shocked," said Mrs Carley, 69.
"We moved in believing it would be our permanent home. But just a couple of months into our time here we had a chance conversation with a neighbour, who asked us where our other home was.
"We told him we didn't have one and he warned us we might get a visit from Tewkesbury Borough Council because the place only had planning permission as a second home.
"We have always been law-abiding, church-going people and to be told we were living here illegally was such a shock."
The couple moved into the park home in June 2010 after selling up their cottage in Winchcombe.
They had wanted to be based closer to their daughter and her family in Twyning, as well as having somewhere easy to maintain while they were away visiting their son in Australia.
Mrs Carley added: "Tewkesbury Borough Council has been very supportive throughout the ordeal. But the amount of money he has been fined doesn't seem enough."
The couple said their one mistake throughout the whole ordeal was not getting their own solicitors to review the finer details of the contract. Free legal advice was offered as part of the deal to purchase the home.
Mrs Carley said: "We just want to put the whole episode behind us. It has left a bitter taste."