Girl in plea to Queen to stop Crown Estate evictions across Somerset

Lily Howard with her letter to the Queen.

Lily Howard with her letter to the Queen.

First published in News This is The West Country: Photograph of the Author by

A GIRL of ten has written to the Queen pleading for her help to stop her family, friends and neighbours being evicted from their homes.

Lily Howard has lived all her life with her parents and two sisters in a Crown Estate cottage in Staple Fitzpaine.

The Estate plans to sell 45 properties near Taunton and Dunster and put the proceeds into more profitable urban investments.

Now, 28 families who rent from the Crown are considering legal action after receiving Notice to quit.

The Crown Estate – whose income goes to the Treasury – say they must buy their cottages and smallholdings or leave. But tenants accuse their landlord of only being interested in profit.

In her letter to the Queen, Lily says: “My next door neighbour keeps coming round and crying. I am getting very, very scared about this and hate what is happening so much.

“I find this mean. I have lived in my home for all my life and don't want to move.

“I love where I live, please tell the Crown Estate to stop, please.”

Mum Lucy said: “It’s put everyone on edge. My oldest daughter’s doing her GCSE exams and we don't need this upheaval.

“The Crown Estate’s just looking at it commercially, but it’s our lives.

“We were told when we moved in if we looked after it we had a home for life.”

Neighbours Chris and Ruth King have been told they can buy their home of 15 years for £220,000, which they can’t afford.

Mrs King said: “When it passed to the Crown Estate it wasn’t just property and land, it was the community as well.

“They don’t care any more.”

Ken Jones, Crown Estate director of rural and coastal portfolio, said the Crown Estate has “a clear commercial remit to benefit the public finances”.

He added: “While many tenants are understandably upset by the news that Notice is being served on their occupation, there are also numerous instances where families have been keen to take up our offer for them to buy the property they have been living in.

“Conscious that many cannot afford to buy, we have gone well beyond the statutory two-month Notice periods for market rented properties such as these, with the vast majority of Notices being served on a four or six-month basis.

“We have also asked that tenants continue to talk to us and made clear that if there are cases of particular hardship, we are willing to be flexible.”

The Crown Estate has told Taunton Deane Council it will not be attending the authority’s corporate scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday (May 29), at which the plight of tenants will be discussed.

Ross Henley, county councillor for the Neroche division, who represents many of the 45 families affected, had called on the organisation to attend the meeting.

He said: “I’m very disappointed the Crown Estate are refusing to subject themselves to public scrutiny and publicly defend their eviction policy.”

In a letter to Taunton Deane Council, the Crown Estate said it had “already engaged widely and openly with our tenants and their local elected representatives on this issue”.

Comments (1)

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10:42am Wed 28 May 14

*Flick* says...

I am sorry, but this is just getting silly now.
I appreciate they want to fight for their homes - but legal action and getting children to write sob stories?
When my PRIVATE landlord wanted to sell my home - that was all fair and legal, and above board. AS IS THIS.
I was left homeless, single as my partner then left me because of the stress, with a six month old baby, and the council wouldn't help me... Did I cry to the papers or try emotional blackmail to my landlords? NO. I dusted myself off, and sorted out my own problems. As these people should.
Please, do not get me wrong, I have sympathy for these people - but this media campaign they seem to have going on really riles me, because in the world of PRIVATE letting, this happens every day. They can't expect special treatment.
I am sorry, but this is just getting silly now. I appreciate they want to fight for their homes - but legal action and getting children to write sob stories? When my PRIVATE landlord wanted to sell my home - that was all fair and legal, and above board. AS IS THIS. I was left homeless, single as my partner then left me because of the stress, with a six month old baby, and the council wouldn't help me... Did I cry to the papers or try emotional blackmail to my landlords? NO. I dusted myself off, and sorted out my own problems. As these people should. Please, do not get me wrong, I have sympathy for these people - but this media campaign they seem to have going on really riles me, because in the world of PRIVATE letting, this happens every day. They can't expect special treatment. *Flick*
  • Score: 18

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