Saturday, August 28, 2010

Vicar's wife defends her claim to seaside village

A VICAR’S wife who is at the centre of a ground rent payments row in Rosses Point, Co Sligo, has spoken out about the controversy, saying her estate would continue to “help” residents buy out their commitments.

Heather Chave-Cox, a part-owner of the ground rents, admitted yesterday that one letter was issued to a resident giving 28 days’ notice to pay or quit.

The Middleton estate, in which she is a shareholder, was in touch with other homeowners and would help them to buy their ground rent, she added.

Earlier this week a number of householders in Rosses Point said they were alarmed at receiving letters from a lawyer’s firm saying the real owners considered them to be “wrongfully in possession of their property”.

Mrs Chave-Cox, whose husband Guy is a Church of England vicar in Barnstable, Devon, claims descent from the Middleton family.

Many residents in Rosses Point, having traced Middleton family members across the globe in the 1970s, reached a deal where many bought their ground rent for sums of around £100. But some residents were not party to the agreement.

Mrs Chave-Cox denied at the weekend authorising a solicitor to write ordering that homeowners who still owed ground rent be ordered out. But in an e-mail statement yesterday, she confirmed one such letter was written. She said: “Only one 28-day notice letter was sent to a Rosses Point resident in July. It was one of three that solicitors wrote, all concerning the same empty house...”

Mrs Chave-Cox added: “Where homeowners have a right to buy ground rent, the estate will continue to help them to do so... Our title records show which properties this would apply to. Those without such a right would be considered according to the circumstances. The Middleton estate’s interest is not only a matter of ground rents.”


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AN ENGLISH vicar's wife has defended her claim on properties once owned by her great, great grandfather on a Co Sligo peninsula.

But Heather Chave-Cox, a spokesperson for the Middleton Estate, strongly denied sending any letter that would deprive someone of the home in which they are living in the seaside village of Rosses Point.

In a statement issued yesterday, Ms Chave-Cox, a direct descendant of Rosses Point landowner William Middleton, insisted that just one 28-day- notice letter was sent to a resident in Rosses Point last month and this concerned an empty house.

The controversy erupted last weekend when it emerged that Ms Chave-Cox and her husband Guy, a vicar in Barnstaple, Devon, had been seen in the seaside village, posting notices on pieces of land and property and carrying out measurements.

One local also produced a letter which had been sent by the Middleton Estate, informing her that she was "wrongfully in possession" of Middleton Estate property and threatening legal proceedings unless the property was surrendered.

In a statement issued yesterday, Ms Chave-Cox insisted that just one "28-day-notice" letter had been sent to a Rosses Point resident in July.

"It was one of three that solicitors wrote, all concerning the same empty house, following several requests made over a long period of time to lay their evidence alongside our documents. Estate action is based on the facts as they come to light," she said.

Ms Chave-Cox stressed that any property that had not been legally acquired from the Middleton Estate since 1875 "remains in estate ownership".

The clergyman's wife, whose great, great grandfather was the Sligo shipowner and miller, William Middleton, pointed out that her ancestor had "purchased title to all land and property (excluding the church) in Rosses Point in 1875".

Following his death, the Middleton Estate was handed on to five of his surviving children.

"The current shareowners are either direct descendants from William Middleton or have married into the family," she said.

Ms Chave-Cox claimed that their title records showed on which properties ground rents were applicable.

"Where homeowners have a right to buy ground rent, the estate will continue to help them to do so," she said, adding that the Middleton's Estate's interest was "not only a matter of ground rents".

Ms Chave-Cox, who is currently on a family holiday in Ireland, admitted that while in Rosses Point, the couple "did take the opportunity to check some measurements relating to possible future work and effect some necessary minor repairs".

Some of the small notices that have been posted last week at sites in the picturesque village have already been taken down.

Local councillor Jude Devins said some older people in the village were now "fearful" that they could be put out of their homes.