Keep MS sufferer’s small business open before Wyre Forest District Council force closure.
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We are devastated to have to tell you that Wyre Forest District Council are forcing Vale Farmhouse to close on 31st August 2018.
In June 2015, I, Janet, received a life changing blow when I was suddenly diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The MS quickly became very aggressive and I have been unable to work since.
We have been blessed with a fantastic, loyal team who have cared for me as well as the dogs.
After trading with a licence since 1 April 2013, in July 2015 we received a visit from new council officer who didn’t like how we care for the dogs here (ie letting them mix and socialise together). This led to numerous regulatory issues including rates, agricultural tie, licensing and planning permission. Since then we have jumped through every hoop asked of us. It has been a huge financial burden, but we have always tried to do everything correctly.
We started to receive complaints about the dogs barking from just one neighbour. Complaints came direct to us and via the council. However, the complaints became harassment and included abusive phone calls and messages, even some at 11.30pm when the dogs were asleep and silent. It was so bad that we had to involve the police who warned the neighbour to stop. Despite this we received further harassing phone calls and had to stop receiving ‘no caller ID’ calls.
In June 2017 the council served us with a noise abatement notice on the basis of the complaint from the same neighbour. They took the neighbour’s word as evidence to support the abatement notice. We are advised that the burden of proof is ours, we are apparently guilty until proven innocent.
With hindsight and legal advice, we should have appealed the abatement notice. However, it arrived immediately prior to me travelling to Moscow for a month, for chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant to try to halt the MS, which was progressing so fast that it has left me largely needing to stay in bed. Dealing with the notice was just too much to even think about at that time. I was too busy fighting to hold onto my life.
At the same time we were awaiting a planning decision. We had been advised that it was to be decided by committee on 15th of August, by which time I would be home from hospital. Instead the decision was made by one planning officer, two weeks earlier than had been notified and whilst I was still in isolation in hospital in Russia recovering from the chemotherapy.
Our planning permission application was refused on the basis of the noise complaint from the same neighbour who had been harassing us and being abusive. We received a planning enforcement notice which we duly appealed.
Unfortunately our appeal was also refused on the basis of the same noise complaint and the enforcement notice is effective 31st of August 2018.
Consequently we have to close on 30th of August. I will have no means of making a living as I can no longer work due to disability caused by the MS damage. The stress has undoubtedly had a detrimental effect on my health. Stress and MS are not good bedfellows.
Our loyal team will be made redundant and one has a young child to support. Without my, albeit small, income from the business, Mike and I face the very real possibility of losing our home.
This has destroyed me. The business has been my passion and without it I have nothing left. It all seems so unjust that one person can cause so much distress and harm.
We have fought all the way, through my shock diagnosis, aggressive illness and awful treatment. We never believed it could really come to this.
If you would like to help us, please would you be kind enough to petition the council on our behalf in support of keeping Vale Farmhouse open so that we can prove our innocence; keep my team employed and leave me something in my life that isn’t just existing day to day.
I am truly sorry to let down our wonderful team, so many amazing dogs and their human servants.
With thanks and love from myself, Mike and all the Vale Farmhouse team xxx �
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