On 14th September CRT seized a boat without a home mooring that was a vulnerable woman’s home while she was asleep inside it. The woman, who suffers from epilepsy, was later rushed to hospital in an ambulance as the stress of the eviction had caused her condition to become critical.
Our roving reporter, R Mutt has sent us this report of a disturbing incident that shows how easy it is for people to fall through the cracks in society if we don’t, as a community, pay careful attention to the needs of everyone.
On the morning of September 14th 2016 Corrine Rotherham, CRT enforcement officer, and a team of 7 private contractors set off from Bradford on Avon in a vessel. They were on a mission to evict a lone woman living on a boat in Bath due to a licence dispute. They arrived as she was still asleep in bed, boarded the boat and proceeded to attach their boat to hers and tow it away.
A number of nearby boaters were alerted to the situation and a blockade was formed preventing the removal. The boaters offered to pay any outstanding money due on the spot. This was not accepted. Corrine decided her plan had gone seriously wrong and called for back up, in this case four police officers and a police van with an unknown number of officers inside.
By this time the woman , who suffers from epilepsy, was so distraught that she was reduced to tears. At one point she was surrounded by CRT and police officers against the railway wall. Despite support from the other boaters she felt she had to escape the situation and she agreed to leave her boat.
After this episode she was admitted to hospital due to the fact that the stress had caused her condition to become critical. Her boat was taken to Bradford on Avon, lifted on a lorry and driven away.
- Why was there no welfare officer present?
- Why were the police called?
- Why did Corrine not want to be filmed?
There are also moral questions here:
- Who is to blame for this unfortunate incident?
- Is it Corrine who enforced the eviction?
- Is it the team hired to do the job?
- or does it go right to the top?
A name springs to mind: Richard Parry.
Corrine has been quoted as saying she hates such evictions and a number of people have been protecting her by deleting posts and information from discussions on Facebook.
The eviction of this vulnerable boater and its drastic effect on her health raise some very serious questions about CRT’s compliance with the law regarding the safeguarding of vulnerable adults.
CRT’s Relationship Manager Matthew Symonds claimed on 22nd September that the Waterways Chaplaincy had been supporting the woman, but the Chaplaincy has confirmed that they were not involved at all prior to the eviction. CRT did refer the case to their Welfare Officer Sean Williams, but unlike social housing, CRT has no measures in place to safeguard vulnerable people in cases where health issues mean that the person at risk of eviction does not engage with the authorities. We have been informed that the boater attempted to claim Housing Benefit.
According to an eye-witness it was clear that the bailiffs, police and Ms Rotherham all wanted to avoid any responsibility for the eviction. He said that one bailiff was clearly uncomfortable and another said that it was ridiculous and tried to distance himself from his job.
CRT currently uses bailiffs from a private company called The Sheriffs Office when they believe that a boat dweller will be resident on a boat at an eviction. CRT previously used Shergroup Limited, which included the trading divisions Sherforce bailiffs and Sherlock, until about 2014.
Tags: bailiffs, Bath, Boater eviction, Corrine Rotherham, disability, enforcement, eviction, Matthew Symonds, Richard Parry, safeguarding, Sean Williams, Section 8, Shergroup, The Sheriffs Office, Welfare issues