WORRIED residents on a boatyard in Canvey are fearing for their homes after news they could face eviction.

Around seven boat owners on Bridge Boatyard in Canvey Road have been told they may be forced to find new homes after it emerged they had been living there illegally.

Some of the residents have been living on the site for decades, and claim to have been receiving benefits and paying council tax from their addresses on the yard.

However taking up permanent residence on the site is in breach of the contract the lease owner of the land has with the landowner Morrisons.

Now, the supermarket giant, who has stores in Canvey and Hadleigh, could be taking action after coming under increasing pressure from Castle Point Council to remove the tenants elsewhere.

Robert Grant, 65, who has lived on the site for 16 years, said: “I’m really worried about what could happen here. But let me tell you they’ve have to come with an order and physically move me out before I’ll go anywhere.”

Steve Bines, 45, said: “A lot of people are really concerned about what’s going to happen. There is a feeling that everyone wants us out now and that it’s only a matter of time until this happens.”

Owners claim the issue could snowball, and lead to evictions at Dauntless Boatyard and to traveller boat owners being turfed out from further along Benfleet Creek.

Lee Chapman, 74, who has a boat on the yard, said: “Some of the people have been living here for years and they all pay council tax so they cannot understand why suddenly this has come to head.

“But if the council starts trying to move them on, it would just open a whole can of worms because they would have to do the same at other sites and to all the people living further down the creek.”

The authority will be holding a make or break meeting with Morrisons and some of the boat owners on November 20 to try and reach a compromise over the situation.

A Morrisons’ spokesperson said: “We are working with the current leaseholders and the council to try and resolve the outstanding issues at the Canvey Boatyard. We have a meeting on the 20th November to discuss this with the head of regeneration for Canvey.”