Tenants fear they may need to move from flats
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