Bury St Edmunds: Great-great-grandmother escorted from St Edmundsbury Borough Council offices by police after protest
12:52 05 March 2014
An outspoken great-great-grandmother on the brink of homelessness came within minutes of being arrested after holding an extraordinary protest against plans to move her away from the estate she has lived on all her life.
Pearl Adams made her stand at St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s offices on Friday, refusing to leave West Suffolk House in Bury St Edmunds for more than two hours until police escorted her off the premises.
The 75-year-old is a sitting tenant at her home on the Priors Estate after her landlord sold the property, and would have to leave if instructed by bailiffs.
She claims the offers she has received from the council for one-and two-bedroom-sheltered accommodation are unacceptable for her and husband Brian.
A spokeswoman from St Edmundsbury said she could not comment on individual cases, but the council “worked hard with all applicants to make sure every consideration is taken into account”.
It comes as new figures show that 205 pensioners are on St Edmundsbury’s waiting list for social housing, the oldest of whom is 76.
Mrs Adams said: “I’m just making a stand because I can’t put up with it. I’ve had nine or 10 people coming into my house and looking around because it’s for sale.
“What I want is a two-bedroom property, preferably on The Priors, but if I have to move to another estate then so be it.
“I just feel dreadful – all the stress of it is making me ill. I feel like the council have treated me awfully, they’ve got no compassion at all.”
Mrs Adams, who has suffered two heart attacks, says she and her husband cannot sleep in the same bed due to their illnesses, while moving into sheltered housing would mean giving up her cat Misty and dog Annie.
Four generations of Mrs Adams’s family live on the Priors Estate, and provide regular care for her and Brian. In all, she has six children, 19 grandchildren, 41 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.
The St Edmundsbury spokeswoman added: “The limited accommodation available is offered on a needs basis, so this information is important in assessing need. We continue to work with those on the Housing Needs Register until they are housed.”
Figures obtained by this newspaper show that 205 of the 1,551 people on St Edmundsbury’s social housing register are 65 and over. Last year three people aged 75 or over joined the list.
Councillor Bob Cockle said that many older people were finding it hard to make ends meet due to welfare reforms,
He added: “People often say to me ‘where can I go? This is my home, I’ve been here 40 years’. Secondly, although they have a choice of where to move to, the facilities they need aren’t there.”
A spokeswoman from Age UK Suffolk said: “Older people often face financial challenges managing their living expenses on a fixed income, and the cost of paying for care and support at home can be an additional financial burden that older people are more likely to experience.”