A family say they are living in fear as the local council has threatened to evict all 13 of them.
The West Yorkshire family say they could be forced to move into a hostel if they are unable to find another property by the deadline handed to them which is January 26.
Clifford Westfall and Clair Patterson live in a huge eight-bedroom house in Keighley with their nine children. Clifford’s brother and Clair’s brother also live with them as they need extra care support.
However the distraught parents are worried their family could soon be torn apart after Bradford Council told them they must leave their home of two-and-a-half years by the end of the month.
They even fear they could be forced to move into a hostel if they are unable to find another property by the deadline.
Clifford, 37, said: ” All we want to do is be together as a family.”
The couple pay £1,000 a month for the privately-rented property in Green Head Road and are desperate to remain in the area – reports Yorkshire Live.
Their seven youngest children all go to school in Keighley and the family business, a toy shop in the town centre, is just a mile away.
Clair said: “If we lived elsewhere, it would be physically impossible for me to get seven kids to four different schools and then get to work. It just wouldn’t happen.
“We don’t want the huge change. We want to keep everything as normal and as happy as we possibly can.
“Keeping the children in Keighley, where they know, is the only way of doing that.”
However, an extension to the property, built by the landlord, breaches planning regulations. The works exceeded the agreed dimensions and the house is now deemed too tall.
Three separate retrospective planning applications and an appeal to the government’s planning inspector have all failed.
It led to the council obtaining a compulsory purchase order on the property. Clifford, Clair and their family were initially told to move out by January 26.
After Clifford and Clair were told to leave, they said they asked for help from the council to find somewhere else to live after struggling to find anywhere suitable.
“There is nothing on the market for a family of our size,” said Clifford.
“We used to live in a three-bedroom house a few years ago. We were so happy, even though it was so small, but it just wasn’t big enough.
“Since we have been in this big house, we have never been secure or comfortable.
“The council say they can’t put us in a four or five-bedroom house, because it would be overcrowded, but we need to be together.”
The couple say they have even asked whether they could have two homes knocked through into one.
“We’re not trying to be money-grabbers,” said Clifford. “We’re completely willing to pay our way.
“We pay £1,000 a month in rent. We pay £378 a month council tax, we pay all the bills on our house.
“We’re not wanting to take anything from the system for free. We work for everything we’ve got.
“We don’t want a big house and for it to be cheap. We will pay. We just want to be together.”
Clair added: “We will pay two sets of council tax, two sets of bills, but the council said we couldn’t do it like that.”
Bradford Council said it was trying to extend the deadline beyond January 26, but this is yet to be formally approved.
A spokesperson added the council “will continue to support” the family throughout the process and that it is exploring the possibility of providing “two accommodation units adjacent or in close proximity to each other”.
Clifford and Clair claim they have been told their family could be moved into a hostel though.
“When they said that, I thought: ‘Is that for real?’” said Clifford.
“What’s one foot or two feet compared to making a family homeless?
“If we had to [leave Keighley] we’d do it.
“But a hostel? It just can’t happen. It wouldn’t work.”
The couple have one child together, but have custody for their eight children from previous relationships. The youngest is just two-years-old, while the oldest is 19.
Local councillor Mohsin Hussain has tried to push the council to provide more help for the family.
He explained : “It is very difficult to find another property of this size, but I have said to the council that we need to find another property for Clifford and his family to move into – or to extend the deadline.
“The council is not in the wrong on this, but there needs to be support from the council and from the housing associations for Clifford and his family.
“I wouldn’t want this to happen to me and I certainly wouldn’t want this to happen to any of my constituents.”
But the family, who spent Christmas with the deadline looming large over their heads, are still no closer to finding somewhere else to live.
“All we want to do is be together as a family,” said Clifford. “We don’t want to be in a hostel in the middle of nowhere.
“We don’t want to take stuff from people, we don’t want freebies, we don’t want handouts. We just want some help.
“We want to keep the family together and keep the family safe.”
The couple claim they pay their rent to Jigsaw Property Services. However, a spokesperson for the letting agent said: “We did manage the property for a short time, but we don’t let the property out anymore.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for Bradford Council said: “The breach that Mr Westfall appears to be referring to relates to planning permission rather than building regulations. This was obtained by the owner of the property in 2018 to extend the house however, the actual works carried out went beyond that approved resulting in an unauthorised increase in the overall height of the property.
“Three separate retrospective planning applications for an increase in the roof height have been submitted since the works were undertaken. These applications were all refused and an appeal to the government’s planning inspector by the owner challenging the decision was dismissed on May 28, 2020.
“In view of this and as the owner failed to rectify the breach, an enforcement notice was issued requiring them to carry out the work in accordance with the approved planning permission or demolish the unauthorised works. No appeal was submitted against the enforcement notice and therefore it should have been complied with by August 18, 2021.
“With regard to rehousing Mr Westfall and his family, Mr Westfall and his family have been assessed by the Local Authority’s Housing Options Service in accordance with the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.
“The Housing Options Officer is currently exploring suitable rehousing options in the private and social housing sectors. This also includes providing two accommodation units adjacent or in close proximity to each other.
“Should Mr Westfall become homeless before the eviction deadline, the Local Authority will have a statutory duty to offer temporary accommodation with one of our commissioned providers. The temporary accommodation offer, if needed, will be in the same location. The Local Authority will continue to support Mr Westfall and his family during this rehousing process.
“The council is currently in the process of preparing legal documentation to extend the current deadline of the January 26, 2022 to allow additional time to source suitable housing options for Mr Westfall and his family. He will be in receipt of this documentation within the next seven days.”
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