A DETERMINED couple are threatening Oldham Council with High Court legal action after claims they are about to be abandoned in a “wasteland” community.
Maureen and Terry Walsh say the local authority went back on a promise to purchase the property as part of a Housing Market Renewal (HMR) project in October, 2010.
The couple, who have lived in their London Road home in Derker for the past 47 years, wanted to be out in time for their golden wedding anniversary. Instead, they have been left in the mire.
Before Christmas, the pair, both in their 70s, received a letter from the council’s housing implementation department telling them the purchase of their home would not be going ahead due to £2million cuts to the HMR programme.
Now, almost a year on, they face the prospect of being one of the last people standing.
Maureen (71) said: “What this means is we are going to be left in no-man’s-land. Our lives are being left in limbo.
“When the demolition of our terrace eventually takes place, there is just going to be us, our neighbour and the street shop left.
“We can’t put the property on the open market, because the area is now a ghost town. We were told funding had become available in April, but the council said they will not be purchasing our home.”
The couple are now threatening legal action with the same lawyers who represented the community in challenging the demolition in the Court of Appeal in 2009. They are arguing that they have a “legitimate expectation” their house should be purchased.
Both have been opposed to the HMR programme to demolish or renovate houses in Derker and Werneth since plans were announced in 2004, with Maureen chairing local community action groups.
After originally wanting to stay, they decided to accept an offer on a house on near-by Westminster Street before they were knocked back by the council and left stuck on London Road.
Their solicitor, Jim Duffy, said: “The couple have tenaciously battled to keep intact the community they have lived in for 47 years.
“They have been treated appallingly by the local authority which now has a legal and moral obligation to follow through on the one thing it has promised to do for them in that time.”
According to figures in February, the council had acquired 785 properties as part of HMR activity in Derker and Werneth since 2004. A total of 530 properties were also demolished during the same period to create development sites.
A council spokesman said: “Oldham Council has formally responded to Mr and Mrs Walsh’s legal representative on the matter refuting the allegations.”