David Harrison, Telegraph (London), February 13, 2011
A family of “travellers” with 12 children are to be moved into their twelfth home in 12 years following a string of complaints by neighbours.
They have been called the “anti-social climbers”–families who behave badly, have more children and are moved on up the property ladder at the taxpayer’s expense.
Families whose behaviour makes life a misery for their neighbours can be thrown out of their social housing, but the authorities must rehouse them–in a bigger home, if they have had more children–and the process can start all over again.
In one of the most astonishing cases, a family of “travellers” with 12 children are to move into their 12th home in 12 years.
Tanya Welch, 39, and her partner Tom O’Leary, 42, have been served an eviction notice on a £1.2m house in a prosperous area of north London, where they were placed as tenants by the local council.
Since the family, who receive more than £70,000 a year in state benefits, moved into the five-bedroom semi in Muswell Hill just over a year ago residents have complained about verbal abuse, theft, litter, noise, late-night rows and children out on the streets at all hours.
It was a similar story at previous homes. The Sunday Telegraph has established the family was moved out of its last two addresses after neighbours complained about their anti-social behaviour.
In total, Haringey council has housed them in four “permanent” homes and seven temporary ones–including B&B accommodation–since 1999.
Under the law, tenants evicted for antisocial behaviour are considered “intentionally homeless”, with no automatic right to be rehoused.
However, if there are children in the household then the council must find temporary accommodation for the whole family–parents and children–and then help them to find a permanent home.
Opposition politicians called on Labour-run Haringey to stop moving the O’Leary family around the borough and causing misery to more residents.
Between 2003 and 2005 they were placed in a rented three-bedroom terraced house, now valued at around £340,000, in Vincent Road, Wood Green.
Neighbours there said the behaviour of “the gipsy family”, as they were known, was so bad that they signed a petition and complained to the council and local MP to have them removed.
The family were then moved to their next “permanent” home, a £400,000 three-bedroom terrace in Fairfax Road, in an area known as the “Harringay Ladder” because of the street pattern in the area. They lived there from 2006 to 2010, leaving the house in need of thousands of pounds of repairs.
Here too, residents describe the misery inflicted by the travellers and their relief when they were finally moved on.
One said: “The police were always around, there was always something going on. There was a lot of threats and verbal abuse. People didn’t want to take them on.”
Last year the family was moved on to a large Edwardian house in Dukes Avenue, Muswell Hill, a well-heeled suburb with celebrity residents and houses valued at up to £3 million.
The neighbours, alarmed by the family’s behaviour, hired a solicitor, formed a neighbourhood watch, signed a petition demanding the family’s removal and sent Haringey council a dossier of 28 complaints. The travellers allegedly responded by shouting “rich b—-” at them.
Last week, the council served them with an eviction notice. If, as expected, the family resists the eviction order, the matter will be resolved by a magistrates court.
But even if that is successful, the council will, under the law, almost certainly have to provide them with new accommodation.
Cllr Richard Wilson, the from the opposition Liberal Democrats, said: “Haringey council has clearly decided to push this family from pillar to post rather than tackling the root cause of the problems they may have.
“This has meant that more residents, in different areas of the borough, have had to put up with the disturbances caused.
“Strong action is needed against disruptive tenants but I have yet to see evidence to suggest that the council has tried to come to a long-term solution.”
Miss Welch, who calls herself “Gipsy T” and is pregnant with her 13th child, due next month, describes her “sporting interests” on the internet as “eating chocolate and having kids”.
Her profile on the internet auction site eBay reads: “Ime a proud mum who formes part of the Irish travelling community; of wich I am veary pleased to be part off . . . I just love travelling!”
The site shows she has paid more than £1,000 for a crib, as well as dozens of items of Royal Crown Derby china, a vintage pink baby doll nightie and an Art Deco Romany fortune-telling tea-cup.
Last week she said that she would prefer to be housed on a caravan park, preferably somewhere with no neighbours.
Haringey council said it was “unable to confirm or deny” that the family had been evicted from their previous “permanent” homes because of anti-social behaviour.
A spokesman said: “We have served a notice to the family that we will be seeking possession of the premises and are urgently deciding what further action is needed, given we have a legal duty of care to the children, and an obligation to any neighbours who have suffered at the hands of the family.
“We will continue to work with the family to try to find the best solution for all concerned.”