Glossopdale teacher evicted from Simmondley home after lengthy legal battle
Monday 20th June 2016 09:42 News Posted by Adam Higgins

Eight police cars and an ambulance were drafted to Simmondley as part of a repossession order which saw bailiffs batter down a teacher’s front door.

The drama unfolded on Friday as Home Office-appointed enforcement agents arrived to evict Rekha Patel from her 297-year-old home.

The action – over an unpaid £70,000 legal bill – lasted for more than four hours as protesters tried to prevent the house from being seized.

During that time, around 20 family and friends of the 43-year-old Glossopdale Community College maths teacher were behind locked doors in Hanover Cottage.

Enforcement officers arrived at 10am, but there was a stand-off as legal advisors acting for Miss Patel argued points of law.

They continually claimed that the court order was invalid and could not be served as it was a photo-copy and did not have a seal of authorisation.

But bailiffs said the original was with the High Court and the copy was acceptable.

Head of Glossop policing, Insp Barry Doyle, also checked the document was legal and told protesters the enforcement would go ahead.

Standing at the front of the listed building, he said: “We are here to make sure they (the bailiffs) are able to do their job and we will enable them to do that.

“I am happy the paperwork is correct.”

Insp Doyle told the gathering – which included a crew from ‘Nine Lives Media’ shooting for a Channel 4 documentary on house evictions – that he did not want to arrest anyone.

But as the questioning over the validity of the court document continued, a man was arrested for allegedly obstructing an enforcement officer. The 41-year-old was later released on police bail.

Glossop’s police chief – who called for police back-up from Buxton – explained: “The reason the police are here is because there are so many people in the house.”

Standing yards from Miss Patel’s front door, he said: “I am responsible for all the people here.”

Saying that the repossession would take place, Insp Doyle told the protesters: “It will go ahead, we will use force if we have to, but we do not want to do that.”

As police and enforcement officers stood by, a locksmith drilled through the lock so bailiffs could get in.

But the move failed after claims that someone in the house had screwed the door frame to the building itself.

Bailiffs then brought in heavy equipment to attempt to open the door.

As they battled to break down the door, Miss Patel – who had pleaded with police from an upstairs window – moved to the front door.

It took 20 minutes of constant blows with hammers and crowbars before police and bailiffs could enter the house.

Family and friends of Miss Patel then walked out carrying bags of personal belongings.

The eviction was the culmination of a civil court case involving stones in a neighbouring wall which it was alleged had been ‘cut off’ during work to Miss Patel’s roof.

Miss Patel said she lost the trial and went to an appeal court in London, who refused to give permission to appeal.

She was then told to go back to the original court in Manchester, but was told ‘they could do nothing as the original judge was dead’.

Miss Patel said: “I am refusing to pay the £70,000 from the trial as I have done nothing wrong and now they want to take my home.”

Speaking to the Chronicle on Tuesday, Miss Patel said: “I have had a few good nights’ sleep. Because of all the support I am having I feel stronger. I feel I have nothing to lose as long as I have love with me.”

Miss Patel – who is staying with her parents in Stalybridge – added that her fight to take back possession of her home is not over.

 

By David Jones