It was on 5th September 2005 that Guy Griffiths and his brother Jimmy were physically evicted from their home in Hampshire Street, Higher Broughton. Jimmy subsequently wrote about the experience in Salford Star (Issue 4)… "Three removal vans, an ambulance, half a dozen police officers, the radio, the tv, the Sheriff and enough deputies to make Wyatt Earp jealous…For the privilege of being evicted from my own home…I was charged over £900…"
Six and a half years later, the Sheriff is polishing his saddle and getting ready to ride back into town to evict Guy Griffiths from the Leicester Road house he bought after he was chucked out of his last home…
Guy has got until noon on Wednesday to hand over his keys or it's the police, the ambulance, the Sheriff and his deputies all over again. Guy's house is under a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) in the Top Streets of Higher Broughton, where everything around in being bulldozed in one of Salford Council's longest and most bitter stand offs with its community.
There has already been a High Court case involving three other residents trying to save houses in the area. And the fall out will leave just six original houses standing out of hundreds that were once there. The bulldozers have already flattened most of the area and are now at Guy's door. He's not trying to save his house, he's just trying to get a fair deal from Salford Council, which, after his last bitter experience, he doesn't trust.
For over a year, Salford Star and selected Salford councillors have been copied into e-mails between Guy Griffiths and Council Leader John Merry, plus various other Council bods, including Sustainable Regeneration Director, Paul Walker, regarding negotiations about a move. Guy's waited months for replies to e-mails. Now he's been given less than seven days to surrender his keys…
"Ninety per cent of the value of the house was advanced a month ago but I was waiting for a letter about what they would pay for disturbance for four months, and that letter only came last week" says Guy "So to put it into perspective, it takes them four months to answer a letter yet I'm supposed to go out and buy a house in a month.
"Realistically if you find a house it's going to take three months before it completes and I wanted to avoid two moves" he adds "I just wanted to find a place, get my stuff and go. Now, they'll offer me some crappy flat – obviously I wouldn't get everything in there so I will be laying out for storage and rent as well. What I wanted was leaving alone until such a time as I could buy a house, make one move and go."
Guy expected at least 28 days notice but an enforcement letter came through on Wednesday and now he has until noon next Wednesday to leave.
"I've been given less than seven days to vacate or they're going to throw me out and charge me around £2000 for the privilege" Guy explains "It's not impossible to get my stuff out by then but it will be very, very difficult. The fact of the matter is that I can't get a mortgage, I've asked the Council for an advance on the money because I couldn't get a mortgage. The money came through about a month ago and now they're expecting me to go out and find a house within seven days.
"If they're going to charge me for the Sheriff turning up I might as well be in the house and let them evict me and get the cameras down again" he adds "But I'd much prefer it if they left me alone, let me find a place and do one move. I really don't think this is holding up anything else, and out of the four residents still living in these streets I bet I'm the only one who's got one of these notices."
Indeed it's hard to conclude anything other than that Guy Griffiths has been victimised by Salford Council for standing up to it last time, and insisting on his rights this time. He wanted to move out of Salford and get the Council's £25,000 discretionary payment given to a lady in the same streets. Salford Council refused, despite similar circumstances. Meanwhile, other residents in the area have not, as far as we know, been served with an eviction notice.
"I just think it's Paul Walker waving the big stick again" says Guy "He's give it all the bullshit for the last three years since he's been in the job… `We remain committed to searching out mutually acceptable housing solutions'…but `mutually acceptable housing solutions' means `You go and f*ck off'…"
Two days ago Salford Star asked Salford Council the following questions, copied into Council Leader John Merry…
1) Is seven days notice a humane way of going about this? Is the Council legally obliged to put out a 28 days notice?
2) The Council states it wants to work with Mr Griffiths for a `mutually acceptable solution' - does this look `mutually acceptable'?
3) Has the Council given notice of eight days before eviction to other tenants living in the Top Street demolition zone?
4) Is the Council ready for some bad publicity if the Sheriff forcibly evicts Mr Griffiths again?
No-one from Salford Council has even acknowledged the e-mail…
See previous related Salford Star story - Insane Salford Council Demolition Disgrace - click here
UPDATE 6TH MARCH - click here