Move by month end! - Residents told to leave south Manchester property by Wednesday
Several occupiers of small parcels of land on the Great Valley property in South Manchester are facing a bleak 2016 as they have been ordered to leave by Wednesday.
The residents, mainly small farmers, were issued the eviction notices on October 29 and given two months to demolish structures on the property, which they claim they erected with permission from the National Land Agency in Mandeville.
According to the residents, they have been given conflicting reasons why they should vacate the land, including that it is needed for an expansion of the Wigton Wind Farm, and that the land has been purchased and the new owner wants them gone.
But Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell told The Sunday Gleaner that as far as he is aware the operators of the Wigton Wind Farm have no plans to do business on the property.
"As far as I know, any development for the land does not involve Wigton Wind Farm. They were outbidded in their attempt to secure the property for an expansion of the wind farm programme. So they are not involved," said Paulwell as he added that he did not know who now controls the property.
Iceval 'Cherry' Brown, councillor for the area, said she is aware of the residents' plight and spoke to representatives of the commissioner of lands on their behalf.
"I went to the National Land Agency (NLA) on their behalf and I was advised by Mr Wayne Mitchell to tell them to come in and speak with representatives there," said Brown.
"I was not told that they would be given an extension, I was just told to tell them to come in," added Brown.
But residents have expressed reluctance to go to the NLA as they claim officials of that agency have already told them that talking would make no difference.
"This is the notice that they gave me. They carried it here and delivered it on the 29th of October and it said we have to leave by the 29th of December," one resident, Thelma Kirlew-Bennet, told The Sunday Gleaner.
She said on the day the notice was being served, she was told that even if she came to the office, it would make no difference.
"So I don't understand how come they told Cherry Brown to tell us to come in. What changed?" asked Kirlew-Bennett.
She said her father, George Kirlew, who is a leaseholder on the property, was not served with an eviction notice, nor was another leaseholder, Windel Lacey, who controls the area where Kirlew-Bennett has erected her structure.
PERMISSION TO BUILD
"I went to the commissioner of lands and told them that I gave her permission. They explained to me that she could not construct anything with concrete. Only board. And that is what she did," said Lacey.
"Everything there is board, and they have not violated any part of the agreement. So I don't know why the notice of eviction was given," added Lacey, who said he was trying to get permission for his colleague, Neville Allen, to put a board structure on the property but this was not allowed.
Kadian Campbell, who was given permission by a leaseholder to erect a board structure on the property, has also been served with an eviction notice.
Campbell, who is now overseas, told our news team that she received a house through Food For The Poor and is worried, as she will have to now find somewhere new to live with her two sons and her boyfriend.
One resident, Danny Daley, who has been farming on a section of the property for more than 20 years, said he is worried that he may become a victim of the eviction notices.
"All I know there was a meeting in August near the Wigton Wind Farm. I was told that if individuals did not attend the meeting they would be asked to leave. But they left some phone numbers," he said.
Efforts to contact persons, based on the telephone numbers, and officials of the NLA have so far been unsuccessful.