COUNCIL representatives have been accused of wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds in a failed bid to evict residents from their homes.

Tendring Council has been attempting to remove tenants living in chalets in Point Clear, St Osyth, who they believed to be living in the properties during the winter months.

According to occupancy rules, the homes are in flood risk zones and are not allowed to be occupied between November and February.

Over the past ten years, the authority has issued numerous enforcement notices while trying to gather evidence to prove the chalets are being lived in all year round. In June, the council took 60 cases to a planning inquiry in a bid to resolve legal issues.

At the time, Tendring Council leader Neil Stock said the authority had a responsibility to protect its residents and prioritise their safety.

The council’s arguments were put forward by an experienced team, spearheaded by a London lawyer, but were rejected by a planning inspector.

After it was acknowledged the council team had actually run out of time to take action against the tenants, the authority claimed a High Court judgement allowed them to ignore the ten-year time limit.

The planning inspectorate, however, dismissed the claims and also quashed the enforcement notices, which has prevented around 15 residents from being evicted.

The amount spent on the case by the council is estimated to have cost around £178,000 of taxpayers’ money, according to former councillor Richard Everett, who was responsible for taking the fight to Tendring Council on behalf of the threatened residents alongside Mandy Kelly.

He said: “The council spent £178,000 on this legal fight and still lost to a couple of volunteer representatives costing nothing.

“The use of large amounts of ratepayers money to bully some of the poorest people in the district is disgusting.

“It just proves even when you have lots of fancy lawyers you can still lose if your argument is fundamentally flawed.

“I think the council should consider whether it is time to stop playing games.”

Tendring Council has said it will take time to review the decisions which have been made.