Ten­ants fear they may need to move from flats

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Front Page - BY OLIVER CLAY oliver.clay@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @Oliv­erClayRWWN

TEN­ANTS in a Widnes apart­ment block fear they have just months to find some­where else to live af­ter re­port­edly re­ceiv­ing a ‘heads-up’ that they will need to move out by Feb­ru­ary or March.

The mat­ter has sparked a call from Hal­ton MP Derek Twigg for the Columba Hall’s owner to re­veal its in­ten­tions.

Mr Twigg said he was in­ves­ti­gat­ing af­ter wor­ried con­stituents said they had been asked to leave the build­ing, which is on Fred­er­ick Street, in com­ing months.

How­ever, Kingscrown Prop­er­ties has hit back over the claims, ac­cus­ing Mr Twigg’s of­fice of mak­ing ‘false’ and ‘defam­a­tory’ com­ments, adding that ‘noth­ing has been con­firmed’ with re­gards to any plans for the build­ing.

He said those who could have to move in­clude ten­ants with dis­abil­i­ties.

A state­ment from Mr Twigg’s of­fice said the MP was ‘ ur­gently seek­ing an­swers’ from land­lords Kingscrown Prop­er­ties and has asked Hal­ton Bor­ough Coun­cil to pro­vide ad­vice and as­sis­tance to those af­fected.

He said the prop­erty firm had pro­vided a ‘lack of in­for­ma­tion’.

The build­ing has 24 apart­ments with a mix of ten­ants in­clud­ing re­tired cou­ples and young renters.

The Weekly News vis­ited Columba Apart­ments on Oc­to­ber 23, and spoke to six res­i­dents who said they were aware of talks, two of whom said they had been in­formed di­rectly by some­one at Kingscrown that they should start look­ing for some­where to live be­cause of plans to con­vert the build­ing into an ‘in­sti­tu­tion’ for young peo­ple with men­tal health needs.

They claimed the com­pany had told five ten­ants.

Five of those who spoke to the Weekly News are friends and said they are now wor­ried for the fu­ture.

Anita White, 72, who lives with her hus­band Ed­die White, 78, said they were ‘so up­set’ at the prospect of hav­ing to move.

She said their ten­ancy is due to run un­til 2020, and that if they do not move, the build­ing will be con­verted any­way, with work­men mov­ing in first, fol­low­ing by ten­ants with spe­cial­ist men­tal health needs.

Den­nis Nolan, 72, and Irene Nolan, 73, were also con­cerned as was Mike Et­trick, 71, who moved to Columba Hall in July and is fight­ing prostate cancer.

They said most res­i­dents are on short ten­an­cies of six-12 months and that young peo­ple now mov­ing into the build­ing are on rolling monthly con­tracts.

Some of those who will face hav­ing to move in­clude an el­derly woman and her bed-bound hus­band, they said.

The group added that coun­cil­lors ● for Ap­ple­ton ward are also look­ing into the mat­ter and have been li­ais­ing with ten­ants.

An­other res­i­dent, Todd Cum­mings, 32, who is liv­ing with his par­ents at the mo­ment at Columba, said his fa­ther has been told he has ‘un­til March’ when his con­tract ex­pires.

Laura Cordwell, Kingscrown Prop­er­ties prop­erty man­ager, told the Weekly News that Mr Twigg’s of­fice has made ‘false’ and ‘defam­a­tory’ claims and said she was go­ing to con- tact the firm’s so­lic­i­tors.

She said some­one from Mr Twigg’s of­fice had phoned her and was ‘try­ing to put words in my mouth and I con­firmed that the in­for­ma­tion given was com­pletely false’.

When pressed on whether any plans were pro­ceed­ing she said: ‘noth­ing has been con­firmed’, adding that any­thing the com­pany did would be ‘within the leg­is­la­tion’.

She said: “We’ve had a cou­ple of peo­ple phone up

“A cou­ple of the claims were com­pletely false.”

She added: “At the end of the day it’s a pri­vate prop­erty.

“If we sold the prop­erty, ev­ery­body would be given the cor­rect no­tice.”

Con­tin­u­ing, she said: “We haven’t got any­thing to con­firm to any­body, we’ve got noth­ing to con­firm at all.”

Mr Twigg said: “I am very con­cerned about the short­age of in­for­ma­tion that sur­rounds this sit­u­a­tion and I am ur­gently seek­ing an­swers.

“If it is the case that my con­stituents that live in th­ese 24 apart­ments are all be­ing asked to leave their homes by the pri­vate land­lord, that is a high num­ber of peo­ple to be seek­ing new homes, in­clud­ing peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.”

From left, Ed­die White, 78; Mike Et­trick, 71; Anita White, 72 and Den­nis Nolan, 72, are con­cerned they could have to leave Columba Hall by Feb­ru­ary or March

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