A resident leading the campaign to save a block of houses from demolition has received a body-blow from the High scalesofjusticeCourt.

Eve Maley received the formal judgement – which may force her to throw in the towel ““ yesterday, nearly six months after the last hearing.

After years of battling to save her and neighbouring residents’ houses, which they maintain are in good shape, from destruction, this could spell the end of the line, since a final appeal would cost another £15,000 on top of tens of thousands already spent.

The whole dispute emerged when Stoke-on-Trent City Council investigated a minority of the houses which were in a bad state of repair, but ended up condemning the entire section of Eaton Street, which overlooks Northwood Park, issuing Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) to acquire the properties.

And although there was once a squadron of homeowners willing to stake their claim to their own land and fight for the cause, many have since left, resigned to the fact that they were fighting a losing battle.

Eve has always said that she would not be moved, determined that the council would not take her house against her will. But now, even she is beaten down by the way things have turned out. She said:

“It’s another £15,000 and what’s the point when it’s going to be another two years to find out the same thing. It doesn’t seem to matter what we do. It’s not right, but what choice is there?

“I’ve only got one option and that’s to risk all that money, and we’re pensioners.

“This has been going on for five years, and now my immediate neighbour is moving, leaving just four of us. It’s like everything is fragmented.”

If she and the rest of the residents do end up accepting that this is their fate, Eve asserts that they will not be ousted cheaply. She said that the council has a ring-fenced fund of £1¾ million to acquire the land, and so she believes remaining residents should be given the value of their properties before the case began, considering the hardship and heartache that has been caused.

But the council has recently offered one of Eve’s neighbours, Betty Reynolds, aged 69, £80 thousand for her property which two years ago was valued at £120k by Quigleys Estate Agents. Eve said:

“Now they are saying the price has dropped. That’s just ridiculous.

“Well they won’t get mine for that. It’s a three-bedroom with a garage. I still have the council’s own valuation of £112 thousand.”

By Matt Taylor 03/02/09

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