A TEN-YEAR-OLD girl has written to the Queen pleading for her help to stop her family, friends and neighbours being evicted from their homes near Ilminster.

Lily Howard has lived all her life with her parents and two sisters in a Crown Estate cottage.

Over 30 families in Staple Fitzpaine and surrounding villages in Neroche have been given two to three months to buy their homes or move out.

The Crown Estate, whose income goes to the Treasury, says they must buy their cottages and smallholdings or leave, but tenants accuse their landlord of only being interested in profit.

Now 28 families who rent from the Crown are considering legal action after receiving notice to quit.

In her letter to the Queen Lily says: “My next door neighbour keeps coming round and crying.

“I’m getting very, very scared about this and hate what’s happening so much.

“I find this mean. I’ve lived in my home all my life and don’t want to move.

“I love where I live. Please tell the Crown Estate to stop.”

Mum Lucy said: “It has put everyone on edge. My eldest daughter’s doing her GCSEs and we don’t need the upheaval.

“The Crown Estate’s just looking at it commercially, but it’s our lives.

“We were told when we moved in if we looked after it we had a home for life.”

Neighbours Chris and Ruth King have been told they can buy their home of 15 years for £220,000, which they can’t afford.

Mrs King said: “When it pas-sed to the Crown Estate it wasn’t just property and land – it was the community as well. They don’t care anymore."

Ken Jones, Crown Estate director of rural and coastal portfolio, said the Estate has “a clear commercial remit to benefit the public finances”.

He said: “While many tenants are understandably upset by the news that notice is being served on their occupation there are numerous instances where families have been keen to take up our offer for them to buy the property they’ve been living in.

“Conscious that many can’t afford to buy, we’ve gone well beyond the statutory two-month notice periods for market rented properties such as these with the vast majority of notices being served on a four- or six-month basis.

“We’ve also asked that tenants continue to talk to us and made it clear that if there are cases of particular hardship, we’re willing to be flexible.”

The Crown Estate has told Taunton Deane Council it will not be attending the authority’s corporate scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday when the tenants’ plight ill be discussed.

In a letter, the Crown said it had “already engaged widely and openly with our tenants and their local elected representatives on this issue”.