Anger over moves to scrap seating area

ANGRY residents remained defiant today following a protest to stop their social area being taken away.

Naomi Cassidy

ANGRY residents remained defiant today following a protest to stop their social area being taken away.

They fear that their community will be ripped apart as the housing association at Horseman Court in Martlesham has demanded that they remove the seats outside their properties for health and safety reasons.

Dozens of residents staged a 'sit-on' outside their homes yesterday as part of their Save Our Seats (SOS) campaign.

The sun was shining and the atmosphere was jovial as people gathered outside and enjoyed each other's company but they all had a serious message to get across.

Jill Carter, a member of the Horseman Court Tenants Association, said: “My daughter lives in America and she gave me a bench for Mother's Day about three years ago. I love it. I would be really upset if it was taken away.

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“Very few places have a community feel like this. There is no drinking or drugs here. It is just cups of tea and coffee and chat.”

The tenants association was launched two years ago by Dave Mison, who had moved into the area and wanted to make it a friendlier place.

As more people have put seats or benches on the strip of land outside their properties, there has been more socialising with regular coffee mornings and fundraising events organised.

However as the Evening Star revealed on Saturday the housing association, Sanctuary Hereward Housing, has told everyone the tables and chairs must be removed by the end of the month as they pose a safety risk.

Mr Mison said: “I'm really pleased with how many people turned up for the protest. Most of the time people have got something else to do so it was really nice to see so many come out for this.

“They have also said we can't have doormats because of the safety risk. We are hoping common sense prevails. We just want to have a dialogue with Sanctuary Housing.”

How do you think this row can be resolved? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Asha Baldwin, area housing manager from Sanctuary Hereward Housing, said: “The safety of our residents is paramount which is why we have asked some of them to remove personal property from communal areas in Horseman Court as they pose a potential hazard to other residents.

“For example, should there be an emergency evacuation in the event of a possible fire, these obstacles could hinder their efforts to leave the scheme quickly and safely.”