LORD GRAHAM OF EDMONTON
26 March 1925 - 21 March 2020
Park home residents throughout this country have reason to mourn the loss of a very great man who worked tirelessly (and with considerable success) to improve their lives. That man was Lord Graham of Edmonton – known affectionately by many as ‘Lord Ted of Ed’ (a title he chose himself!), who died on 21 March this year.
The son of a meat porter, Ted Graham was brought up in Newcastle and left school at 14. However, education was very important to him and he studied hard throughout his life, eventually gaining a B.A. from the Open University (the first MP to do so).
Having always taken a keen interest in politics, he became a councillor in Enfield in 1960, going on to become its leader, and he served as leader of the new London Borough of Enfield upon its creation in 1964. He became the Labour MP for the constituency in 1974 and subsequently served as the Private Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Consumer Affairs. On his elevation to the peerage, he served as a Lords Commissioner to the Treasury (Senior Whip), Opposition front-bench spokesman on Sport, Defence and Northern Ireland and Opposition Chief Whip from 1990-1997.
Lord Graham first became involved with park homes when the 1983 Mobile Homes Act went through its various parliamentary stages. At the time, Lord Graham was deputy to Gerard Kaufman, MP, Shadow Environment Secretary and was alerted to the problems in the park homes sector which he said were exceedingly serious. Residents’ lives did improve as a result of the 1983 legislation. However, Lord Graham noted that park owners had changed rapidly. Whereas they had once been family businesses, large companies had become involved, with the result that the personal touch between park owner and resident had, for the most part, been lost.
Much later, in 1998, the Government took significant and continuous action to address abuses on mobile home parks and, appreciating the need to review this sector on a regular basis, Lord Graham set up the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Welfare of Park Home Owners (APPG). This group comprised MPs from all parties, representatives from the park homes industry and national residents’ associations (including IPHAS and NAPHR). It met regularly to discuss the various problems that were arising on parks, but it wasn’t until 2010, when Housing Minister Grant Shapps MP attended an APPG meeting, and subsequently announced his intention to introduce secondary legislation. Peter Aldous MP was successful in the private members’ bill ballot and the legislation went ahead rapidly.
MPs attending APPG meetings have often been contacted by their constituents about individual problems on their parks, and Lord Graham always tried to ensure that these were debated and fully investigated.
Although Lord Ted was the driving force in the APPG, he was, in fact, the secretary. The chairman was initially Hilton Dawson MP who was then followed by other MPs. Sadly, a heart attack followed by a period of ill health resulted in Lord Graham handing over the reins of the APPG to Annette Brook MP, and when she retired, two elections ago, the APPG was taken over by Sir Christopher Chope MP. Even though he was no longer actively involved, Lord Ted continued to take a keen interest in the APPG and park homes generally.
Lord Graham died on Saturday, 21 March. His final few years were spent happily in a care home where he particularly enjoyed tending the plants in the greenhouse.
Our sincere condolences go to Lord Graham’s family, many friends and former colleagues. IPHAS team members have their own personal memories of Lord Ted, who was the organisation’s vice-president. IPHAS president, Joan Aylott, and her husband Ernie (who founded IPHAS more than 25 years ago along with the late Roy and Beryl Waite) have particularly fond memories of Lord Ted’s help and enthusiasm and his understanding of the complexities of this unique branch of the housing industry. Joan and Ernie’s son, Rus (also an IPHAS team member) has expressed sincere condolences on the loss of a great man who had contributed so much. Senior consultant, Alan Savory had enjoyed more contact with Lord Ted than most of the IPHAS team through attendance at various London meetings and he always found him helpful, courteous and full of ideas for ways in which residents’ lives could be improved. Many other IPHAS team members were aware of Lord Ted’s immense contribution and are greatly mourning the loss of ‘our vice-president’. They all appreciated Lord Ted’s even-handedness. He always took the view that there are two sides to every story and that park owners are running businesses and are entitled to make profits, but it was important, too, for them to exercise a duty of care to those living on their parks and not to exploit them.
Rest easy, Lord Ted. Your contribution to life in this country has been immense and one particular group – park home residents – will never forget what you achieved in improving their lifestyles.