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Barking Creek residents celebrate regaining access to houseboats

PUBLISHED: 18:58 16 May 2014 | UPDATED: 18:58 16 May 2014

Residents of Barking Creek who face eviction Photo: David Mirzoeff

Residents of Barking Creek who face eviction Photo: David Mirzoeff

Archant

Glasses were raised at Barking Creek last night after a judge removed the immediate threat of eviction for residents mooring their houseboats there.

At the end of a long dispute with residents of Barking Creek, Fresh Wharf Estates cut off ­access to the land where they moor on Wednesday.

They were served an injunction last night, putting an end to the restriction.

The court order came after a fence was erected around the mooring on eviction day and security guards with dogs appeared when the barge owners would not budge.

“The court took our circumstances into account and did something quite dramatic,” said Michael Levy, a resident of one of the boats on the mooring.

“It’s a whole community of people here, a proper dwelling and now we’ll be able to stay. That’s what makes us so excited.

“Everyone has got a hangover today, it was all smiles last night and we had a proper drink and celebration when we heard the news.

“We’ve suddenly all woken up this morning having purpose, we’re now an independent boating community in Barking. Today is the first day of building a new village in East London.”

Before the injunction the residents of Barking Creek were paying Fresh Wharf Estates a mooring fee and then an access fee for the land.

If the injunction passes the return date next month then it will remain until the trial which may not take place until next year.

“Even if we’d negotiated a reasonable rate we’d still have been walking across their property everyday with Fresh Wharf still able to make decisions about what we can do. But now we can say this is ours,” said Michael.

“We want to introduce a boating community to Barking and hold open days and perhaps boating festivals for all to enjoy. We really want to be considered an asset to Barking.”

Lucy O’Brien, 34, from Farooq Bajwa & Co, Solicitors has been representing the residents and lives on the mooring with her son.

She said she was extremely relieved that the judge understood the situation and granted the injunction, but explained: “This is by no means the end of the matter and the parties will meet again in court on June, 13.

“Everybody understands there is a long way to go before their homes are secure.”

She added: “It has been a difficult case to work on because of the seriousness of the consequences if the injunction hadn’t been successfully obtained. It was certainly one of the most worthwhile cases I have been involved with.”

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