A couple told to leave their home in two days by the local council have ignored their eviction notice – and instead taken in Ukrainian cats.
David and Karen Yates’ family have tended the land at Earls Farm in Hardwood for more than 300 years, with David taking over the tenancy when his father, William, died in 1995.
The pair have not been paying any rent since 2007, after they say they were promised a new tenancy contract from Bolton Council which never materialised, Manchester Evening News reported.
The couple were recently advised to take “adverse possession” of the land – also known as squatters rights – and made an application to Her Majesty’s Land Registry (HMLR).
However after submitting the application, the couple were issued with an eviction notice from the council.
Within the notice they were told the local authority would “strenuously defend” the application and that they had to leave the land by April 30.
David, 65, and Karen, 54, also have an 84-animal cattery, an innovative manufacturing hub for making barley straw which kills green algae, a facility for ‘Men in Sheds’ – the men’s mental health charity – and a beauty and nail treatment business there.
And they will continue to run their businesses despite the threat of eviction hanging over them.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) contacted Karen recently, asking if the pair would be able to house cats that had been brought to the UK from Ukraine.
The couple agreed, wanting to help with the tragic situation faced by Ukrainians fleeing the country and giving their beloved pets a place to stay whilst they completed the UK’s mandatory quarantine period.
The cats will be housed in Bolton for three months before they’re clear of the quarantine requirement.
After which the cats will be reunited with their owners.
Karen said: “DEFRA contacted us about two weeks ago to ask if we would consider taking cats in from Ukraine and we said yes, we wanted to help as much as we could.
“We received a phone call and an inspection over a video call because they couldn’t get up to see us in person and said we’d be happy to allocate a full unit of chalets because I know they’re really under pressure to move cats forward so they can bring more cats over.
“The lady I spoke to said they really needed to push forward and was really happy with the cattery.
“We do daily observations on all the cats we look after but because the cats from Ukraine are in quarantine DEFRA want us to watch them more closely.
“I’m really pleased that we’re able to help, the situation is really desperate and I’m very relieved we’re able to help.
“It’s nice to be able to have everything ready and just push the button for them and show off the unit and our food stores and everything we have at the cattery.
“They said that cats could start arriving as soon as Thursday but everything’s 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 ok here.”
A spokesperson for Bolton council previously said: “We are unable to comment due to ongoing legal proceedings.”