Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Man evicted by SOHA living in tent

A MAN is living in a tent after being evicted from his home in Henley for anti-social behaviour

A MAN is living in a tent after being evicted from his home in Henley for anti-social behaviour.

Jamies Marshall has refused offers of help, saying he is happy where he is.

The 37-year-old was forced to leave his housing association flat in Reading Road in December after neighbours complained that he was damaging the property and making noise late at night. He set up camp close to the Waterman?s allotments.

Firefighters were called to the site at 3am one night after residents reported smoke from a campfire that Mr Marshall had lit to keep warm.

He then moved to a patch of grass near his old home in Reading Road, just yards from passing traffic, and had to put up with rain, sleet and overnight temperatures close to freezing.

After spending several nights there, he moved back to the original site with a new Trespass tent.

Mr Marshall, who is unemployed, bought the tent, along with a sleeping bag and boots, using his monthly benefits payments.

The tent has two compartments and Mr Marshall has strengthened the sides with old pieces of trellis he salvaged from a skip.

He said: ?When I moved out I just had a sleeping bag and a pop-up tent which I bought.

?I got this new tent last week and I?ve had a few nights in it. I don?t want to stay here long, I just need to rest a lot because I?ve got bad limbs. I need somewhere comfortable to sleep.

?The police have come over twice and said people are concerned. The residents have been very nice and given me blankets and throws. People round here know me and sometimes drop in with a cup of tea.?

Matt Eggleton, a friend of Mr Marshall, set up a fund- raising campaign on crowdfunding website GoFundMe which raised more than £200.

However, he was forced to close the appeal after it was reported as fraud to the website?s administrators.

Donors were offered their money back but opted for it to be given to Comic Relief instead.

Mr Eggleton said: ?Jamie needs help and a chance to live somewhere. I?ve known him for a long time and don?t want to see him living in a tent in these conditions. It?s not right for people to be out in this weather.

?Unfortunately, we had to close down the webpage. We gave the money raised so far to Comic Relief and were told we couldn?t do any more while they are investigating.?

South Oxfordshire District Council has offered Mr Marshall alternative accomm- odation but he turned it down, saying he was ?happy? in the tent.

Mr Marshall says he appreciates the offers of help but he doesn?t want to move back into a flat in Henley.

He said: ?I had wanted to leave my flat for a while but it was complicated.

?It?s nice that some of my friends are raising money for me but I don?t want to risk getting a new house in Henley because it?s too expensive.

?I wouldn?t be able to progress or get a job, I?d spend my whole life answering to landlords and billing companies.

?I don?t need a new house or any charity, I?m happy in my tent.?

Mr Marshall first came to Henley when he was seven and lived in Upton Close, Hop Gardens and Mount View before moving to Reading Road in 1997.

He was evicted by Soha Housing shortly before  Christmas following complaints from neigbours dating back to 2012.

Jude McCaffrey, head of housing at Soha, said: ?It is always sad to see a tenancy end in eviction. Soha always makes strenuous efforts to help a customer maintain their tenancy and, in this case, that meant working with the appropriate agencies in the hope of avoiding legal action.

?Our priority, however, is to the wider community and in evicting Mr Marshall we were responding to concerns, including damage to his own and communal property and excessive noise, voiced by his Reading Road neighbours over more than two years.

?Before taking possession of Mr Marshall?s home, we strongly encouraged him to engage with the homelessness team at South Oxfordshire District Council and we alerted both that team and the local police to his imminent eviction.?

A district council spokesman said: ?We have been in contact with Mr Marshall and have offered to work with him to address his current  situation.

?We have a very good record in assisting people who have become, or are in danger of becoming, homeless.?

Thames Valley Police said it was aware of Mr Marshall?s situation but did not plan to take any action as he was not committing an offence.

Henley town councillor Kellie Hinton said: ?I don?t think it?s appropriate for any member of the public to be camping on that land ? it?s not safe and he?s open to all the elements. Naturally, I feel compassion for a resident of Henley who isn?t housed and when I saw the campaign to raise money for him I wanted to give it my support.

?I understand he has been offered accommodation by South Oxfordshire District Council. I hope he takes up the offer because it?s unsafe where he is.

?I would advise people to leave the situation to the authorities but it?s great to see the community coming together to help him ? I heard £180 was raised in the first four hours. That?s what Henley is all about.?

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