Councillor helps save Harold Hill man, 85, from eviction

A collection of old Christmas cards helped save an 85-year-old Harold Hill man from eviction after his family and friends turned detective.

When Joseph Finch’s partner Ursula died in March, Mr Finch was at risk of being thrown out of the council-owned Dorking Road bungalow they’d shared for 13 years because his name wasn’t on the tenancy agreement.

“When Ursula died there was basically no evidence of Joe living there,” said family friend Rob Adams, 44. “All the bills were in her name.

“The council wanted to evict him, which would have probably finished him off. He has two dogs he loves and if he’d been moved somewhere else he might not have been able to take them.”

Under housing rules, Mr Finch would be eligible to take over the bungalow if he could prove he had lived there for 12 months – so his friends and family set to work.


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Mr Adams, ward councillor Denis O’Flynn and Mr Finch’s daughter Jacqueline Anderson – who runs the Finishing Touches tattoo parlour – did some digging and turned up a drawer full of old envelopes with his name on.

“He’d become so traumatised he wouldn’t answer the door to anyone in case they’d come to throw him out,” Cllr O’Flynn told the Recorder. “He’d been living in terror for quite some time.”

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The trio took the envelopes to Homes in Havering, the organisation that manages the borough’s council housing, along with a letter from Mr Finch’s GP confirming he was registered as living at the bungalow.

The evidence persuaded the council to let Mr Finch stay, and Ms Anderson, 49, was so grateful she decided to say thank-you to Cllr O’Flynn – with a �200 tattoo voucher.

Cllr O’Flynn won’t be using it himself – for one thing, councillors aren’t allowed to receive gifts above a certain value.

But he’s also worried they might give him away in the event of a war.

“My father was captured in Benghazi during the Second World War,” he explained. “He escaped, but he had tattoos that gave him away and he was recaptured.

“So he warned me when I went into the army not to get any tattoos.”

Instead, he’ll be auctioning the voucher for the Little Havens children’s hospice in Essex.

He was presented with the voucher on Monday (September 3) at the Harold Court Road tattoo parlour.

Homes in Havering spokesman said: “It is very important that residents let us know of any changes to their living arrangements so we can avoid these issues coming up in future.”

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