News
12th Sep

2017

TFA Media Release 17/25 – Herefordshire Farm Tenant Challenges Council Leader to Justify His Eviction

Herefordshire Farm Tenant Challenges Council Leader to Justify His Eviction

Tenant Farmers Association member, Steve Clayton, a farm tenant on the Herefordshire County Council estate, has written to the Leader of Herefordshire Council to seek an explanation as to why he is being evicted from his farm despite the promises made by the Council Leader.

TFA Chief Executive George Dunn said “This is a clear case of an officeholder within the Council saying one thing but doing another. Council Leader, Councillor Tony Johnson, promised all of the tenants on the Herefordshire County Council estate that they would not lose their homes or livelihoods in the process of the Council selling its farms’ estate but sadly that is exactly what is happening to Mr Clayton and other tenants on the estate”.

“To add insult to injury, the Council is taking an overly legalistic approach to Mr Clayton’s end of tenancy claim for compensation which has prevented him from being able to seek alternative accommodation. In the wake of serving notices to quit on some of its farm tenants, the Council promised that it would do everything possible to assist tenants but again the way in which it is dealing with Mr Clayton’s end of tenancy claim demonstrates that those promises were merely empty words,” said Mr Dunn.

“There is a lot to do before Mr Clayton will be required to leave his farm at the end of September and he is unable to move on unless the Council settles his legitimate claim for compensation and deals with the fundamental issue of why he is being evicted despite the assurances he has received to the contrary,” said Mr Dunn.

Ref: MR 17/25

Date: 12 September 2017

Notes for Editors

A copy of the text of Mr Clayton’s letter to the Leader of the Council Is provided below.

For further information contact George Dunn on 07721 998961 or Harley Coles, TFA Communications and Events Co-ordinator on 0118 930 6130 or 07887 77715.

Stephen Clayton, New House Farm, Rowlestone, Herefordshire, HR2 0DR

08 September 2017

Councillor AW Johnson
Leader, Herefordshire Council
Hoe Farm
Mathon Road
Colwall
Malvern
WR13 6EP

Dear Councillor Johnson,

New House Farm, Rowlestone – Open Letter

On 3 December 2015 I sat in the public gallery alongside fellow farm tenants from the Herefordshire County Council estate as you chaired the Council’s Cabinet meeting at which the decision was made to dispose of the around 4500 acres of land making up the estate. Of course, this was not just land it also represented the homes, businesses and livelihoods of the 40 to 50 tenant farmers occupying holdings on the estate. I went to the meeting because I wanted to hear first-hand from you what I should expect for my future. I heard you say the following, and I quote:

“There has been much rumour and I think some conversation on the radio yesterday that this was going to turn people out of their homes etc and that is extremely wide of the mark. What we are talking about is a possible change of ownership of the tenancies not a change of the tenancies themselves. There will be some changes if it moves out of the ownership of this council but to many people it will arguably be to the advantage of the tenants”.

You also said:

“I must take exception to ‘kicking in the teeth’ that implies that these people will lose their homes, lose their livelihoods or whatever, that is not the case. We are talking about a potential change of ownership if the decision is taken to dispose. There will be new owners. The tenants are protected by the terms of their tenancy and that protection will continue”.

Having arrived at the meeting nervous about my future position, I left, foolishly, in hope with these quotes ringing in my ears. At least if I could not afford to buy the farm from you, I had been provided with an assurance that I would not lose my home or livelihood.

Imagine how I felt then in the following February when I received a notice to quit my holding with no qualification. Imagine too, the turmoil and trauma that I and my partner Joyce have been through in the intervening period until now in which you have neither listened to reason nor provided any excuse for why the promises made in December 2015 have turned to dust.

Another statement you made at that fateful December 2015 meeting was as follows:

“Councillor Price made much of (and quite rightly) our duty of care to tenants particularly the FBTs. I promise Councillor Price and everybody else in this room we will do everything we can to make life as comfortable as possible for those affected in this way and we will be inviting them all to come and talk to us either collectively or individually.”

Having pulled the rug from underneath our feet, you are adding insult to injury by a penny-pinching approach to what should be a straightforward end of tenancy compensation claim. Your officers are choosing to use technicalities to prevent me from obtaining a legitimate settlement for this end of tenancy claim. In fact the Council’s failure to agree my claim has caused, and continues to cause, great difficulty for me in securing my future beyond the end of this month when I must leave the farm.

Therefore, if you retain any aspect of a moral conscience, I would ask you at the very least to instruct your officers to settle my reasonable end of tenancy claim without further nit-picking and also explain how being evicted from my home, business and livelihood fits with the promises you have provided previously.

How else do you expect me to feel other than “kicked in the teeth” when you have said, quite categorically, that I would not lose my livelihood or my home and your actions have been to the complete opposite effect.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Clayton

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