Abandoned street's last resident makes council decision after 16 year stand off


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Carl Harris, 65, had been locked in the legal battle with Birmingham City Council as the authority tried to bulldoze his whole street to make way for new housing. Carl, a former bus driver, refused to leave his four-bedroom property of 30 years in the King’s Norton area of the city.

But he’s finally accepted the Labour-run council’s latest offer of £275,000 and put the saga to bed.

Speaking to Birmingham Live, Carl said: “It’s all smoke and mirrors. They don’t want to increase the value of the house but are making the money up in other ways, making it look like a good deal. But it’s not actually a good deal at all.

“It’s relief that I can see light at the end of the tunnel.

“However, this option is the best of a bad lot. I spoke to a barrister last week and he said I could go to court and I could win, but if it didn’t go in my favour, I would lose the fees I’ve paid out already, so 20 grand or so will be gone.

“Costs are mounting up. It would be brilliant if I won in court, but if I lost, I’ve got no house and no money.”

The council’s offer for the house had not budged from £175,000 for some time.

Carl, who is a dad, now has until just after Christmas to find a new home, a timeframe he said is “ridiculous”.

He had been to view a house on Thursday last week but a bidding war had started and if the price goes over £220,000 he will have to dip into his own pocket – something he is unwilling to do.

Carl added today that even with the final sum, he is struggling to find a suitable property in the same area, nor is he allowed to purchase a home from the council. Suggestions to the local authority have been made but were rejected, he claims.

Labelled a “no-go” zone last year due to burgeoning crime rates, the road has fallen into disrepair and attracted criminals and thieves. Carl has also revealed that his house has been broken into three times since 2018, once by actual council officers.

“I was at work and the phone kept going,” he said.

“It was a private number so I didn’t answer.

“I came home and arrived to men from the council saying they had broken into my property because they thought it was one of theirs. They were in the area with a lot of boarded-up properties and couldn’t understand why this one hadn’t been voided.

“So they broke in, realised someone was still living here, and then had to contact me. That tells you that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. It’s been a farce from one end to the other.”

To make matters worse, the council replaced the broken door with an “inferior” wooden door, which was kicked in by real burglars in May this year. Robbers stole some power tools and a few small items, but fitting another new door was the most costly item – something Carl feels the council should pay for.

His acceptance of the council’s offer marks the end of an epic saga that has caused the father-of-one significant grief over the years.

“I’m up against it all the time. I can’t compete with offers above £220,000,” said Carl.

“It’s been 16 years of stress.”

A council spokesperson said: “Mr Harris’s solicitor confirmed on Thursday 11th August that he was accepting the Council’s latest offer to voluntarily purchase his property. They have also confirmed that Mr Harris will be withdrawing his objection to the Compulsory Purchase Order.

“With regard to the issue about the forced entry into his property and the damage to the door and frame, the Council was aware of the issue at the time and steps were taken to remedy the situation with the agreement of Mr Harris.”


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