'˜I don't know where my kids will be in two months.'- Peterborough family face eviction from St Michael's Gate three weeks before Christmas

A 'devastated' dad of two young children is facing up to the fact that they will lose their home three weeks before Christmas.

Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 4:11 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 4:43 pm
Richard Lee and his son Cody(2). Picture by Terry Harris. THA
Richard Lee and his son Cody(2). Picture by Terry Harris. THA

Richard Lee’s family is one of 74 who are preparing for eviction from St Michael’s Gate in Parnwell.

It follows a story, exclusively revealed by the Peterborough Telegraph, that the city council is preparing to sign a deal with a property firm which is evicting the families.

The council will use the vacated properties as temporary accommodation as it seeks a solution for the large growth in homelessness in the city.

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Richard Lee and his son Cody (2). Picture by Terry Harris

The PT has previously reported that the authority is expecting an overspend of at least £1.2 million this financial year after being forced to put up homeless families in a Travelodge due to a shortage of available hostels and B&B accommodation.

Mr Lee said a letter came through his door a few weeks ago saying he, partner Cherie Withey and children Summer (7) and Cody (2) had to have left by December 4 having moved in six-and-a-half years ago.

He said: “It’s right before Christmas and it’s a short time to find the money to move. It’s hard and it’s affecting the kids.

“Our little girl asked ‘why do we have to move?’ It’s devastating.

Richard Lee and his son Cody (2). Picture by Terry Harris

“We have lived in Peterborough all our lives and it makes me feel sick. At the moment it looks like we are going to have to live with my mother to save us money until we can find somewhere in the private sector or the council help us out.

“I look at my kids and don’t know where they will be in two months.

“The situation has upset a lot of people.”

Mr Lee said it has been extremely difficult to find a new home. He explained: “I’ve been around letting agents but they say for every house there are 30 applications.”

Richard Lee and his son Cody (2). Picture by Terry Harris

The official reason given for his family’s eviction was because his home needed to be refurbished, he said.

But he is disappointed that he might be leaving an estate where people get on so well, and he is worried about how Summer will get to Eye Church of England Primary every day.

He added: “There are a lot of families around here with kids. There are a lot of nationalities but everyone gets along and it’s quiet.

“We are all friends and the kids are safe. There are not many places where you have that.”

Richard Lee and his son Cody (2). Picture by Terry Harris

Peterborough City Council says it agreed a three-year lease with Stef and Philips, with a break clause at the end of the second year, for St Michael’s Gate to be used as temporary accommodation for homeless families at a cost of £966,337 per year.

However, a spokeswoman said the council found out today (Tuesday, October 4) that it was not Stef and Philips which is evicting families but a firm called Paul Simon Magic Homes Investments.

The PT rang Paul Simon which said it would not be commenting on the story, before then promising to ring back later today.

Stef and Philips told the PT its only responsibility will be managing the properties on behalf of Paul Simon.

Adrian Chapman, service director for adults and communities for the council, said if the council did not use the properties then they would be rented out to another organisation, most likely another council.

He added: “It would be foolish of the council to take this approach when it has such a high need.”

The PT is running a series of interviews with families and individuals who are facing eviction from St Michael’s Gate. The first has already been published on our website (see below) with more to come over the coming days.