Houseboat occupants in West London are claiming 'harassment' by the local council who are attempting to evict the boat dwellers it says are illegally moored.
Occupants of a community of houseboats in Brentford, in West London, are claiming Hounslow Council ordered their electricity to be cut off without warning as part of an ongoing attempt by the council to evict the group.
The occupants told a local website that they have contracted lawyers to dispute an eviction notice issued by the council on Friday, 5 February, which requires the boat dwellers to remove their vessels. The notice cites that the boat dwellers have been moored on the site illegally.
The council action is part of a plan to ready Watermans Park for a proposed revitalisation development that includes a new marina.
A statement from the council’s website said: “Hounslow Council has always planned to regularise the moorings in this location. There has long been concerns voiced and complaints from those with legitimate moorings that it is not fair that some of the boaters at Watermans Park have continued to moor without paying any mooring fees. In addition, many of the boats are sub-standard and an eyesore.”
Stephen Alexander, who owns and lives on one of the houseboats moored there, told getwestlondon.co.uk: “We were fairly shocked when the electricity was cut off with no warning … Two of the boats rely on pumps to keep them afloat. One was pretty much on its way down by the time the electricity was restored.”
Alexander said he was aware the eviction notice required a response within seven days and that the electricity cut came on Monday, 8 February, during the wind and rain brought by Storm Imogen.
The boat owner said electricity was restored by 9pm that evening after he and others complained to the Southern Electric power company.
Alexander said his lawyers had written a letter of complaint requesting no further “harassment” from the council and plans to present alternative development plans for the area. He said the group will also assert their right to remain moored at the site in court based on a 30-year history of accessing their boats by climbing over a park wall.
A spokeswoman for Hounslow Council said the council are following up with Southern Electric to investigate the cause of the power outage and will have no comment on the matter until the cause has been determined.