PENSIONERS were left in a panic when they were sent an eviction notice for their social club in error.

Margaret Lyth, 77, the chairman of Lime Close Senior Citizen's Club, received a letter from Thurrock Council last Wednesday informing her the club, which has been running since 1964, had until February 15 next year to vacate the hall they use.

The club, in Lime Close, South Ockendon, has more than 50 members who met four times a week for social activities.

When Margaret called the council, she was told the letter should not have been sent out, and the council didn’t know who was responsible.

The Gazette asked the council what is going on and we have been told the authority is changing the terms of the hall’s lease, but the senior citizen’s club will still be able to use it.

A spokesman said: "The council owns the building but the lease with the committee, dating back to 1970, states it is for the committee's sole use.
"The council can no longer allow a situation where it is denied use of the building, especially when it is not being used all the time.

"The new agreement simply means the council will now be able to use the facility when it is not in use.

"The committee has also been assured in meetings about this that there is no danger the new agreement will affect or compromise their use of the premises.”

He added: "Thurrock Housing will be paying for all the utility costs which up to now the committee has had to fund so they will be better off.

"The building has also fallen into a state of disrepair raising numerous health and safety issues and the new lease will allow housing to undertake all the necessary repairs and refurbishment."

Margaret said the whole episode has been “devastating” for her and the other members.

She said: “I’ve had members telling me they will move their beds into the hall and sleep there so that the council can’t chuck us out.

“The council know they’ve sent me the wrong letter, so I can’t understand why no one has phoned to apologise and explain properly.

“As long we can have a lease for longer than a year and still have our set days and times that we use the hall for, we are happy to share it.”