Great Blakenham: Police in attendance at heated public meeting as residents hit out over new council homes plan
12:52 04 September 2014
Assurances were given last night that people with “three heads” would not be living in new proposed council homes.
Mid Suffolk District Council’s move to build some of the first new council homes in decades was met by anger at a public meeting in Great Blakenham.
The council wants to build up to 23 homes on land it owns between Chequers Rise and Chalk Hill Lane in the village near Ipswich.
But at the meeting called to discuss the initial plans residents had concerns over a range of issues including flooding, lack of infrastructure and the would-be tenants. Such was the predicted hostility a policewoman and police community support officer were stationed at the Parish Room’s entrance.
District councillor, John Field, looked dismayed at some of the comments and asked if anyone in the room had ever lived in a council home.
In response he said: “You have not got three heads. It’s totally wrong to suggest that about all council tenants. No-one is here to deliberately do something that you do not want, there is no intention to harm the community.”
Several people had concerns about who would be living in the homes. The meeting heard how Mid Suffolk is to give preference to people who already live in the village or have connections to the area.
But many residents were not moved by this, one woman said: “My husband and I were told we were not eligible. He has served 12 years for the British Army, for this country and we could not get a house. People come off the streets and get houses in seconds.”
Julie Abbey-Taylor, Mid Suffolk’s corporate manager for strategic housing, said: “There are always sweeping statements about stereotypical council tenants in any place, about people who do not care about their neighbours, but you cannot say that about all council tenants.”
A drop-in session will take place later in the year to further discuss the plans. The earliest building work could start would be in the spring, subject to the approval of planning permission.