TENANTS facing eviction by the Crown Estate have formed an action group and are demanding that the decision is reversed.
More than 40 families in Somerset – 28 near Taunton and 17 in Dunster – have received letters from their Crown Estate landlords telling them their homes are being sold to allow the Estate to re-invest elsewhere.
Community leaders have voiced their shock and dismay at the treatment of villagers who have been told to buy their rented homes or move out within weeks.
Vicky Pearson, who is spearheading the Forced Out action group, is in contact with tenants in West Somerset and Lincolnshire, and said: “They want to deal with us on an individual basis, but we made it clear that we’re now working as a group across Somerset.”
County councillor Ross Henley has backed the group and wrote to The Crown Estate asking for a meeting.
Last week he and Cllr John Williams, chairman of Taunton Deane Council, along with Cllr Tim Taylor, chairman of West Somerset District Council, accompanied members of Forced Out to meet Neil Jacobson, portfolio manager with the Crown Estate.
After the meeting Vicky told the County Gazette: “We handed them a letter stating that we want them to retract the threat of eviction, and once they’ve done that we’ll start to negotiate.
“We want them to give tenants the respect they deserve and time to deal with the situation, but they just reiterated their remit as a commercial enterprise.”
Mr Jacobson said: “We know that for some the news has been difficult, which is why we’ve been engaging with tenants and their representatives to explain our decision and the measures we’ve introduced to approach this process responsibly.
“We’re maintaining a dialogue with our tenants and remain flexible where there are specific circumstances that mean people are unable to meet our proposed timescales.”
Visit forcedout.co.uk to find out more and sign the petition