STOP CROWN ESTATE EVICTIONS
My name is Jason Wright and on behalf of Crown Estate tenants I urge you to read and sign this petition. This petition relates to forced evictions by the Crown Estate. Before I present the petition let me first explain some facts. The following definitions can be found on the official Crown Estate website www.crownestate.co.uk.
DEFINITION OF CROWN ESTATE ETHICS:
"We [Crown Estate] act at all times with integrity and are committed to careful stewardship…Across the country our commercial approach delivers results not just for the nation but also for the communities in which we operate.. Working closely alongside tenants, communities, businesses, governments, and local authorities, to behave with integrity is essential if we wish to deliver our vision of being the UK's most respected property business. We want our customers and communities to have confidence in us, to believe that the hallmark of The Crown Estate is 'Trust'. That is how we attract the best customers, and how we are able to work with the best partners. It is also why integrity - our second core value - goes to the heart of how we do business...Pursuing good environmental practice, making sure that our activities in the communities in which we operate are handled sensitively... it is through our actions that we demonstrate our commitment to stewardship... prioritising the delivery of sustainable, high quality housing, including affordable housing.
DEFINITION OF CROWN ESTATE GOALS:
“The Crown Estate is a commercial property business. We are a fully independent organisation with a separate legal identity and accounts. The Treasury is our sponsor department, but we are separate from them...above all we are a commercial organisation, tasked by Parliament with enhancing the value of the £8.1 billion property portfolio we manage and generating a profit.”
THE REALITY – THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK
As can be noted above the Crown Estate claims to be a "Careful steward..making sure that our activities in the communities in which we operate are handled sensitively…prioritising the delivery of sustainable, high quality housing, including affordable housing." All sounds utopian however the bottom line is the Crown Estate admits it is actually "a commercial property business" which exists to "generate profit"
These are paradoxical claims. Money or people - who comes first? An example of how the Crown Estate claims to work with rural communities can be seen under their partnership program with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). The Crown boasts that it will create "10,000 homes across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Norfolk; with up to five thousand more in Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Wiltshire, Lincolnshire, Dorset and Leicestershire." While this maybe true the claims tell only half a story. Contrary to the Crown Estates ethos the Estates portfolio is NOT being handled in a sensitive, sustainable way. Rather both short term and long term Crown Estate tenants are being evicted from their homes in order to sell off what is essentially affordable local housing to the highest bidder! This perfidious behavior has not gone unnoticed, Rhiannon Bury comments:
"The Crowns involvement in providing new homes doesn’t mean it is helping communities as much as many argue it should. In recent years, the Crown Estate has been criticised by MPs for becoming too focused on creating profits and forgetting its wider social responsibilities.
In 2010, the Treasury committee, which was then chaired by Lord John McFall, said ministers should take a greater interest in the Crown Estate because it struggles to balance generating revenue with ‘acting in the wider public interest’.
Similarly, in March, the House of Commons Scottish affairs committee published a devastating critique of the estate for its dealings north of the border.
‘At best, [the Crown Estate] has little regard for those needs and interests other than where it serves its business interests,’ the report said. ‘At worst, it behaves as an absentee landlord or tax collector, which does not reinvest to any significant extent in the sectors and communities from which it derives income.’
A spokesperson for the Crown Estate stresses that the business is a commercial venture and that housing is no longer its priority, which led to the sale of the homes. ‘The Crown Estate focuses its investment in its core areas: offshore renewable energy, central London mixed-use, and prime regional retail property’, he says.
OFFICIAL CROWN ESTATE STATEMENT:
"We have over 700 rural residential tenancies, mainly former farm cottages and farmhouses. New lettings are on an assured shorthold (AST) basis and attract market value rents. This year, 2014,we have decided to sell a number of our properties across the portfolio in order to re-invest elsewhere."
EVICTION FOR PROFIT
This petition is in response to hundreds of forced evictions throughout the UK wherein both short and long term tenants have and are being issued eviction notices for profit. Many tenants are unable to buy these Crown properties which are often over priced and are thus forced to leave their homes.
In the Village of Swaton, Lincolnshire five families were told they would have to leave their homes in March 2014. The explanation was that 25% of the residential portfolio was to be sold off. Where are the scruples in such perfidious action? How can such en masse selling be reconciled with the Crown Estate ethics statement? viz. that the Crown is working for and with local communities and supplying affordable housing. The reality is PROFIT comes before FAMILIES.
My wife and I along with our four children have been long term tenants of the Crown having lived here in Swaton for 24 years, 22 years in our current Crown residence. We have never missed a rent payment, spent thousands on renovation of the property and run a successful entomological business from the property. My situation is not unique and throughout the country the Crown has surreptitiously worked to force families to vacate properties. This is a “under the counter” operation, all “hush hush” – WE THE RESIDENTS AND OUR SUPPORTERS seek to expose these morally bankrupt policies and practices.
*BREAKING NEWS 01.05.2014*
The Crown Estate has now admitted to making a "serious mistake" In a recent letter from the East Midlands portfolio manager I have been informed we were issued the wrong tenancy? Mr Clarke wrote:
"Having now personally looked into your tenancy and occupation of Crown Cottage I am clear that the Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement dated 23 August 2004 should not have been issued to you."
How many more "mistakes & errors" have the Crown made? We know of the monumental moral error, but what about legal errors? We will wait and see! Rest assured I will continue to campaign for moral justice to be done. The result to stay is a bitter-sweet pill to swallow because I know of so many others who are facing eviction.
In response to my concerns MP Stephen Philips said:
"Many thanks for drawing my attention to an issue of which I was unaware, and which I have to say seems unacceptable insofar as properties are being sold whilst still occupied."
Further examples of Crown Estate evictions:
While legally the Crown may well be acting within the Law the question goes way beyond commercial profit. We are talking about families that were told they had security with the Crown, that the Crown only sells derelict homes, that the Crown supports the rural communities by providing affordable housing. The reality is ANY property and ANY family is fair game. Number crunching and profit is the motivating force, not the welfare of families or communities.
Much of the pressure to sell properties is as a direct result of the Banking crisis. The Government are essentially recouping losses at the expense of innocent Crown tenants who played no role in the monumental losses and bailouts of the failed Banking sector.
Carol Rhodes, and her daughter who have been evicted in Savernake Forest (Wiltshire Gazette & Herald) wrote to the Queen complaining about her Crown Estate eviction looking to the Queen for help. Carol received back a polite letter saying the Crown Estate business was nothing to do with the Queen and was an issue for the Treasury Department. Interestingly although the Crown Estate promulgates this position in reality 15% of Crown Estate profits goes to Her Majesty the Queen "rounded up to the nearest £100,000" !! (See Crown Estate Act 1961 and Sovereign Grant Act 2011)
Determination of the Amount of Sovereign Grant:
Link here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/15/section/6
Recent Newspaper Articles:
The Times Business "Crown Estate sales force tenants to buy or move out"
In his Policy Green paper No.10 “Strong Foundations, building homes and
communities – Nurturing Responsibility” David Cameron wrote:
"While houses may have a price, homes have a value. We need to kick our addiction to house price volatility and concentrate on making sure we build enough homes so that every community can meet its housing needs. Crucially, this must be led by communities themselves. I believe that local people – not distant bureaucrats or top-down targets – should be in control of the way their villages, towns and cities develop"
See also: http://conservativehome.blogs.com/files/conservative-manifesto-2010.pdf
If this is true then why is the Government permitting the Crown Estate to evict tenants? How does this meet the housing needs of the local community? Either David Cameron is oblivious to the Crown Estates eviction policy or he does not truly care about Crown tenants.
Essentially wholesale sell-offs of Crown properties actually break up communities, cause dislocation to families and children. For example lets say a rural village is made up of 50% Crown Estate rented properties and the Crown decides 25% of those properties are to be sold off to the highest bidder. What is the result? Destruction of the local communities! Less affordable housing! Pressure on local Council authorities to re-home evicted tenants! The detrimental effects are far reaching affecting families both emotionally and financially.
David Cameron wrote: "I believe that local people – not distant bureaucrats or top-down targets – should be in control of the way their villages, towns and cities develop"
Following our Prime Ministers advice I call upon all who read this petition to PLEASE SIGN IT! Let us the local people (wherever you live) take control! Consequently we the people desire that all Crown Estate tenants be allowed to live in peace and harmony within their communities without threat of eviction for profit. If you agree that families should not be forcibly evicted from their homes then PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION!
SUPPORT THIS PETITION. STOP CROWN EVICTIONS NOW!
“We the undersigned demand that the Crown Estate immediately annuls and abolishes its policy to evict Crown Estate tenants on the basis of profit. That the Crown upholds its responsibilities to rural communities by providing affordable housing to all”
Please pass on this petition to as many
people as possible. We would like to see this petition go viral! For more information visit http://forcedout.co.uk/
Mr. Jason Wright
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