Angry neighbour tells of ‘nightmare’ living next door to squatters in historical Ely House
PUBLISHED: 10:29 05 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:17 05 July 2019
“I dread to think what will happen - there is drug taking, nudity, litter, needles and rats all around the property.”
These are the words of neighbour Toby Nichols who lives next door to the vandal-stricken landmark Ely House in Wisbech.
Over the past three months, since he bought his property in Lynn Road, Toby has seen drug taking, nudity, flytipping and brawls from the squatters who have destroyed the Grade-II listed building.
Shocking pictures taken by his grandfather Bernie Smith show the extent of the damage inside - with period features ripped off the walls among needles, empty beer cans and human waste.
But Toby says the worst is that his five-year-old step-daughter has had to witness squatters abuse the property from her bedroom window.
The 31-year-old says he hates leaving his partner and child alone as squatters come knocking the door "to ask if they can charge their phones".
He explained: "My little step-daughter calls them 'the bad people next door' and asks questions we cannot answer.
"There have been displays of public nudity and we have had to call the police on several occasions.
"We bought the house beginning of April and since moving in we have had problems with drug dealing, litter, needles and rats all around the property."
Toby also claims that they are "smoking marijuana outside his back door, starting bonfires with petrol and arguing late into the night".
Just last week a fire ravaged a large shed in the back garden of Ely House, which Toby says was just inches from his fence.
"I don't know what would have happened if fire crews hadn't had got there when they did. We would have had a serious problem.
"It is a nightmare, there are floorboards ripped up, it is just a shadow of its former self."
Buying the house in April was meant to be a positive time for the family, who were unaware of what was really going on next door.
"Before we moved in we just assumed it was a bit overgrown but still being maintained," he said.
"From the outside there was no suggestion of squatters being in there.
"It just needs to be safe and secure; this could have been refurbished and turned into tearooms but now I fear it has gone too far."
Toby, who works as an operations assistant, says that all of his neighbours have "had enough" of complaining to Fenland District Council.
It is believed around eight squatters have currently taken over the house.
In response to the article in Wisbech Standard last week, a spokesperson for Fenland District Council, said: "Ely House is in private ownership and it is the responsibility of those owners to ensure that the building and its surroundings are kept in a safe and secure condition.
"However, we recognise that Ely House is a Grade-II listed building and we have an active interest in ensuring its preservation for the future, as well as addressing the complex issues on the site.
"A number of our councillors have raised the issue and are assisting the council to do everything within its legal power to resolve matters and take urgent remedial action which will be charged to the property owner."
The 17th century building is in a sorry state from how it looked in 2017 when hundreds of people attended an open day ahead of a potential sale.
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