Pensioners in tent row

ALL these elderly people wanted was for a place where they could chat, play games and ward off loneliness together.Instead they have found themselves in a David and Goliath battle with a housing association which has ordered them to take down the tent where they gather each afternoon in the communal garden of their Ipswich housing scheme.

ALL these elderly people wanted was for a place where they could chat, play games and ward off loneliness together.

Instead they have found themselves in a David and Goliath battle with a housing association which has ordered them to take down the tent where they gather each afternoon in the communal garden of their Ipswich housing scheme.

The residents of Hanover Housing Association's Black Horse Lane sheltered housing complex pitched together to purchase the £129 tent from Argos so that they could while away their days enjoying each others' company rather than spending them alone in their cramped flats.

Their housing complex, which is overlooked by Ipswich police station and Ipswich Borough Council's Civic Drive headquarters, has no communal space and nowhere for the residents to spend time together.


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Instead of asking the housing association to spend money creating one, the residents paid £26 each to purchase the tent and they erected it on the lawn last Friday.

One resident, Kenneth “Happy” Sewell, 78, today described the afternoons that have followed as some of the best of his life but the neighbourly spirit has not been matched by some, including the warden at the flats, who want the tent removed from the lawn.

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Mr Sewell said: “I come here for the friendship. It's lovely.”

Another resident, 86-year-old Florrie Stalley, had barely left her flat since Christmas until the tent went up last week. Today she appealed for the housing association to allow it to remain.

She said: “We look forward to coming out. Please let us keep it up.”

In the days since the tent was erected the residents have gathered to talk, sing songs together, play draughts and listen to music.

Jimmy Evans, 74, said: “The tent is fantastic. We come here for company, not to argue with people.”

Eileen Craven, 79, added: “We have our lunch at home and come out to the tent afterward. Some of us want to go in to see Coronation Street and then come back out. We stayed out until 9pm one night!”

HANOVER Housing Association said it was “very concerned about the situation which has developed” at the Black Horse Lane retirement complex.

A spokesman for the association said the residents who erected the tent had been told that it had to be taken down for two reasons.

The spokesman said: “Firstly it is placed in an area which is for communal use by all the residents and secondly it could be a health and safety risk and if an accident occurred because of its erecting, it would be the responsibility of those residents who put up the tent.

“Hanover acknowledges that residents wish to entertain and enjoy themselves outside, particularly during the recent spell of hot weather.

“However the estate facilities are there for all residents to enjoy and we have to put the safety and security of all residents first.

“We have asked the residents to propose an alternative to the tent which could then be considered and voted on by all residents.”

Weblink: www.hanover.org.uk

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