Anger at health and safety seat snub

RESIDENTS who were told to remove seats from outside their homes for health and safety reasons have staged a protest.

Naomi Cassidy

RESIDENTS who were told to remove seats from outside their homes for health and safety reasons have staged a protest.

The tenants are furious the housing association at Horseman Court in Martlesham has demanded the removal of the seats.

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

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.

“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. We are good people.”

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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, now the housing association, Sanctuary Hereward Housing, has told everyone that the tables and chairs must be removed by the end of the month as they pose a safety risk.

Mr Mison said: “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.”

One of the residents, known as Bling, who has lived at the complex and had a bench outside his flat since 1994, said: “When everyone's kitchen was being refurbished, I used some money that I had saved up for a holiday and bought a gazebo and a few chairs so that everyone could sit out there together and have their dinner. Sanctuary Housing obviously don't want us to have a community.”

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.”