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Riverboat dwellers served with eviction notices

Riverboat dwellers served with eviction notices

Lucy Elder

Riverboat dwellers served with eviction notices

Worried riverbank dwellers fear they could be left high and dry after being served with eviction notices.

Photo by Wisdom Da Costa

 

Boaters at Willows Riverside Park, a mooring for residential boats in Water Oakley, were served with an eviction notice in mid-February and have until April 19 to find new moorings.

Their contracts state that 42 days' notice is needed before eviction. However, the waiting list for moorings in this area can be years long.

It took resident Emma Taylor six years to get a spot at the moorings for her 55-foot boat and she said she felt 'sick' when she received the eviction notice.

“We can't just move and we have got nowhere to go,” she said.

Resident Ross Savage, who has had a boat at the moorings for nine years, spoke about what the community is like.

“It is fantastic. It is like a good old fashioned community,” he said.

“It is a unique lifestyle.”

The 39-year-old said he was 'stunned' and 'gutted' when he received the eviction notice from site owners Haulfryn.

“Ideally they would retract the notice to evict us and we would continue as we have done for nine years and in other cases 12 or 15 years,” he said, adding he understands this is probably not realistic, but would like to be allowed to stay until they find an alternative.

There are about 20 boats at the moorings, 13 of which are permanent residential boats.

A number of other residential moorings on the Thames have also been given eviction notices recently, so competition for new moorings will be fierce.

Resident Roger McDonald said he cannot understand why they need to be out by April 19 when their licenses do not expire until June 30.

Royal Borough councillor Wisdom Da Costa (West Windsor Independent Group) said: “The directors of Haulfryn will be destroying a way of life of these long-standing residents, uprooting them and casting them adrift,” he said.

He appealed to the directors to reconsider their approach and find a more acceptable solution than 'a cold hearted eviction'.

A statement from Haulfryn Group said that in line with their annual agreements with the boat owners, they are exercising their rights under the terms of the licence agreement and in line with the law, to terminate the licences.

It said: “We of course have a great deal of sympathy and concern for our existing licence holders and with that in mind increased their notice period from 42 days to 60.

“We have also extended the invitation to those who are finding it more difficult to relocate, the opportunity to discuss with us a further extension to this.

“We have made this position clear to the association representing the boat owners and have offered to meet with them to see how we can get to a position that suits both parties in terms of timescales.

“We have had a number of licence holders agree to move within the timescales and will do everything we reasonably can to come to an agreement with those currently having difficulties meeting the extended notice period.”

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