Crown Estate urged to attend council debate on evictions

FORCED OUT: County Cllr Ross Henley, left, and Taunton Deane leader Cllr John Williams, centre, with Crown Estate tenants

FORCED OUT: County Cllr Ross Henley, left, and Taunton Deane leader Cllr John Williams, centre, with Crown Estate tenants

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THE plight of Crown Estate tenants across Somerset who are facing eviction from their homes is to be the debated before Taunton Deane’s scrutiny committee.

County Cllr Ross Henley, who represents Neroche ward where the majority of the 45 affected families affected, requested the public debate and has asked representatives from The Crown Estate and its local agents Smiths Gore to attend.

Cllr Henley, who has also written to LibDem leader Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, to make them aware of the situation, said: “I successfully requested that Taunton Deane corporate scrutiny committee put this on the agenda as I think it is crucial that this matter is debated in public.

“I have invited Smiths Gore and the Estate but I haven’t heard back from them yet. I hope they come as this will be the first opportunity anyone will have had to question them in public and try to get some answers from them. So far they have not been very forthcoming.”

Housing officers will also be present to set out the current situation in the borough. As the housing authority, it will be up to Taunton Deane to rehome evicted tenants.

Cllr Henley said: “The tenants themselves are being incredibly active in working to put off the evictions but time is of the essence and I think getting the borough council to hold this debate adds more weight to their campaign.”

Vicky Pearson, a tenant and member of the Forced Out Action Group, which is lobbying the Crown Estate to delay the evictions, said: “Time is running out now. At least two of our families only have until August to either buy their homes or move out.

“The Estate says it is happy to discuss extending the notice period from two or three months to six months. But tenants who have had meetings with Smiths Gore are being denied that extension and we don’t know why.

“We just need answers and more time.”

Members of the public are invited to the meeting which is on Thursday, May 29 at 6.15pm in The John Meikle Room, The Deane House, Taunton.

To find out more go to forcedout.co.uk

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