Can­cer pa­tient’s shock af­ter los­ing job and home

The Oban Times - - News - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­

A COU­PLE who worked on the same es­tate for 19 years have been made re­dun­dant and told to leave their home within three weeks with­out any in­di­ca­tion of what their sev­er­ance pay­ment will be.

Si­mone and Richard Fothergill moved to Glen­feochan Es­tate 19 years ago to work for own­ers Hugh and El­iz­a­beth Whit­tle, who live and work on the es­tate.

Richard, 53, who worked as the es­tate man­ager, says that three weeks ago he was handed pa­pers ter­mi­nat­ing his con­tract with a no­tice to quit their tied house within three weeks.

Si­mone, 48, who worked for the fam­ily as a house­keeper, was also made re­dun­dant.

The cou­ple have, to date, no fi­nal amount of set­tle­ment from the Whit­tles.

Highly emo­tional about the need to move his fam­ily from their home and into a car­a­van, Richard said: ‘I have can­cer and Crohn’s dis­ease and mov­ing home is not easy.

‘When we were made re­dun­dant, we be­lieved we would have three months to pack up and to find some­where else. But in­stead all we got was three weeks.

‘I have been off work for about six weeks al­to­gether now but be­fore that I worked on this es­tate day and night.

‘Both our jobs were also fin­ished at the same time. So we are both unem­ployed and both home­less, as is our teenage son.

‘We have tried to get onto the ACHA [Ar­gyll Com­mu­nity Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion] hous­ing list, but be­cause we are not classed as home­less it is re­ally hard.

‘We also don’t know what our fi­nal set­tle­ment from the es­tate will be. We have asked but we have never been given the fi­nal fig­ure. We are wor­ried that by mov­ing out we will not get what we are en­ti­tled to.

‘By this time in your life we should be set­tled. You do a good job and you ex­pect to be treated well but it isn’t the case here.’

Richard, who also suf­fers from asthma, has a dam­aged spine and other health is­sues, was told by hous­ing of­fi­cers that he could have a long wait be­fore get­ting into per­ma­nent ac­com­mo­da­tion.

He pleaded with his for­mer em­ploy­ers for more time to find a house but he says his words fell on deaf ears. Richard, orig­i­nally a York­shire man who has worked on farm es­tates all his adult life, added: ‘They won’t even give me a ref­er­ence. I am too young to feel washed up but that is the way the Whit­tles are mak­ing me and my fam­ily feel. Maybe it is time that any­one work­ing on an es­tate checks their terms and con­di­tions as they could be home­less within three weeks as well.’

Si­mone said: ‘We are go­ing to make the most of it. But it is a sad place for us at the mo­ment. We won’t have any space to play with our lit­tle grand-daugh­ter.

‘It has been re­ally dif­fi­cult to get help from any­where. Cit­i­zens Ad­vice are so busy, the ar­bi­tra­tion ser­vice ACAS said it could only give us ad­vice on re­dun­dancy, noth­ing else. And when we spoke to the coun­cil we were ad­vised to speak to ACHA, but it can’t of­fer us a house un­til we are home­less.’

A lawyer speak­ing on be­half of Hugh and El­iz­a­beth Whit­tle said: ‘The writ­ten Ser­vice Oc­cu­pancy Agree­ment en­tered into be­tween my clients and the Fothergills states that their right to oc­cupy Keeper’s Cot­tage ceases au­to­mat­i­cally on the ter­mi­na­tion of their em­ploy­ment.

‘My clients af­forded the Fothergills more than three weeks to va­cate the cot­tage fol­low­ing the ter­mi­na­tion of their em­ploy­ment. My clients are there­fore of the view that they have met their le­gal and con­trac­tual obli­ga­tions.

‘Stand­ing the fact that the cot­tage was pro­vided rent-free for the proper per­for­mance of the Fothergills’ du­ties, its rental value is ir­rel­e­vant to the ques­tion of statu­tory re­dun­dancy en­ti­tle­ments.

‘My clients do not wish to make any fur­ther com­ment at this stage.’

Si­mone and Richard have had to move into a car­a­van af­ter be­ing told to leave their home of 19 years.

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