Couple told to leave home in two DAYS insist they ignore eviction notice – and take in Ukrainian cats

A couple who were told they were being kicked out of their home by Bolton council insisted they weren’t leaving – and even took in dozens of cats who escaped the war in Ukraine over the course of of the next three months.

The family of David and Karen Yates have looked after the land at Earls Farm in Hardwood for over 300 years, and David took over the tenancy when his father, William, died in 1995. The couple say they have no not paid rent since 2007, after they say they were promised a new tenancy from council which never materialized and were recently advised to take ‘opposing possession’ land – also known as squatters’ rights – and made an application to Her Majesty’s Land Registry (HMLR).

But following the request, the couple received an eviction notice from the council – in which they were told the local authority would ‘vigorously defend’ the request and that they had to vacate the land by April 30.

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However, the couple has no plans to leave. As well as being their home, David, 65, and Karen, 54, have also created an 84-animal cattery, an innovative manufacturing center for making barley straw that kills green algae, a facility for “Men in Sheds” – the men’s mental health charity – and a beauty and nail care business there.

And the pair say they will continue to run their businesses despite the threat of eviction hanging over them – and even have some somewhat unusual guests coming to stay with them later this week. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) recently contacted Karen, asking if the couple would be able to house cats that had been brought to the UK from Ukraine.

One of the units will be used to house cats from Ukraine

Instantly the couple agreed, wanting to help with the plight of Ukrainians fleeing the country and giving their beloved pets a place to stay while they complete the UK’s mandatory quarantine period. The cats will be housed in Bolton for three months before they are released from the quarantine requirement and can continue to be reunited with their owners.

Karen said: “DEFRA contacted us about two weeks ago asking if we would consider hosting cats from Ukraine and we said yes, we wanted to help as much as possible. We received a phone call and a video call inspection because they couldn’t get up to see us in person and said we would be happy to allocate a full unit of chalets as I know they are really under pressure to bring the cats forward so that they can bring more cats.

“The lady I spoke to said she really needed to move on and was really happy with the cattery. We do daily observations on all the cats in our care, but because Ukraine cats are in quarantine, DEFRA wants us to monitor them more closely.

One of the cattery chalets

“I’m really happy that we can help, the situation is really desperate and I’m very relieved to be able to help. It’s nice to be able to prepare everything and just press the button for them and show off the unit and our food stores and everything we have at the cattery.

“They said the cats could start arriving as early as Thursday, but everything is ready for them. We’ve been doing it for so long now that we know what we’re doing, so I know they’ll be fine here.”

The cattery was opened in 1997 by David when he decided to diversify the farm’s offer. They have two units and plan to use one unit to house cats from Ukraine, while the other will remain open for business as usual for their regular customers. The couple are equipped with all the food and equipment they need for the new arrivals, and look forward to meeting them and getting the cats settled.

David and Karen Yates

Previously, the couple told the MEN how they intended to stay in their house. David said they were promised a new contract when the nearby school at St. Catherine’s Academy was completed about 15 years ago.

He said: “But we haven’t paid a dime in rent since 2007 because we never heard from Bolton council until 2016. As soon as we filed our claim for adverse possession they suddenly became interested. , but we think we have a very good legal case to reclaim the land because we are using it efficiently.”

And he added: “My family has been here for 300 years, I’m not leaving now.”

A Bolton council spokesperson previously said: ‘We are unable to comment due to ongoing legal proceedings.

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