Protest march in Rothwell amid claims residents face eviction

CAMPAIGNERS staged  a protest march through Rothwell amid claims dozens of families living in 70 rented homes on a former coal board estate face eviction.

Campaigners marching in Rothwell.

The National Union of Mineworkers organised the march this morning (Thurs July 26) as former miners are among around 250 people whose homes are under threat on the estate in Oulton.

Private investment company Pemberstone, which owns all the 1950s built Airey pre-cast concrete homes, has submitted a planning application to demolish the 70 semi-detached houses on Wordsworth Drive and Sugar Hill Close and build detached houses.

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The company said it plans to gradually develop and modernise the estate over 15 years and that all tenancy agreements will be honoured.

Campaigners marching in Rothwell.

But campaigners say the close-knit community is under threat.

Coun Karen Bruce (Lab/Rothwell), said: “This could decimate a whole community.

“It’s not social housing but it’s serving that purpose because it is affordable. These people can’t afford private rented housing.

“People are paying about £500 a month for semi-detached homes, which makes them affordable for families.

John and Cindy Readman

“People matter and communities matter. This is a close-knit community where people have known each other for years. People are frightened and scared where they might end up."

Mother-three Cindy Readman and her husband John have lived on Wordsworth Drive on estate for 13 years.

Mrs Readman, 53, said: “It is a very close-knit community, we all look out for each other. It has always been a very safe place for families.“We would be devastated if it went. They are just out to make money as far as we can see.”

Former miner Mr Readman, 57, who worked at Rothwell Colliery, Glasshoughton Colliery, and at Wistow Mine near Selby, said: "I think it is an absolute outrage. It's gentrification of a former mining community to maximise profits."

A spokesman for Pemberstone said: “Having been involved with the estate for 17 years we know how important the community is in Oulton.

“There is no intention of a wholesale demolition and redevelopment of all the houses in one phase as our planning application forms the basis of a blueprint for the development and modernisation of the estate over the next 15 years.

"Pemberstone has always said all tenancy agreements will be honoured and it is unlikely any residents will be expected to vacate their property and leave the estate.”