The owners of the Daisyfields campsite said they will ‘lose everything’ after the council decided to sell the land.
Les and Jean Rutherford hoped to enjoy a well-earnt retirement after running the campsite in Cornfield Close for 21 years.
It is a complete and utter nightmare. Everything that we made is being destroyedJean Rutherford
But now they feel pressured by Arun District Council to get off the land after it was sold behind closed doors at a council meeting in September, which is affecting Les’ already fragile health.
Jean said: “We are going to lose everything. We are losing our home, we don’t know what we are moving into. Where will all our posessions go? It is a complete and utter nightmare. Everything that we made is being destroyed.”
Since 2011, the Rutherfords said their business suffered because the council had them on an annual contract, leaving them unable to make long-term investments.
Les, 68, claimed they rarely heard from the council until the sale was decided, but recently they have had several visits, calls and letters which have intimidated them.
One letter laying out a settlement deal had such a short timeframe that the couple could not get legal advice, they said.
And now they have discovered JCB diggers will be testing the ground this week – despite customers being on site until May.
The couple and their son Simon, 44, and his partner Sarah, who live with them, have six months to leave.
Jean, 64, and Les sold their Storrington home to run the campsite – but now might not even be able to afford rent.
It rounds off an annus horribilis for Les, who is in remission from skin cancer and recovering from an serious bladder infection after a hip operation: “I feel pressurised and panicked. I dread having to move our belongings.”
Sarah said it was a ‘massive blow’ to Simon, who was to take over the family business.
Arun said it was in ‘regular contact’ with the family and ‘in the process of reviewing all assets’ to ‘ensure efficient and effective estate management’.