Elderly residents fight to keep homes

ELDERLY residents offered thousands of pounds to hand over their cherished homes to the homeless have warned housing chiefs they will have to physically drag them from their flats if they want them to move.

Laurence Cawley

ELDERLY residents offered thousands of pounds to hand over their cherished homes to the homeless have warned housing chiefs they will have to physically drag them from their flats if they want them to move.

Northgate Lodge in Bury St Edmunds is currently home to a tight-knit elderly community who team up for days out, celebrate each others' birthdays and look after one another in ill-health.

But Havebury Housing Partnership, which owns the building, has proposed dividing it up and handing one part over to St Matthews Housing Society which looks after homeless and unsuitably housed people. Havebury claims leasing part of the building will help pay for improvements to the complex.


You may also want to watch:


But to make way for the proposed newcomers, existing residents would lose their communal lounge and laundry facilities and the two wings of the complex would be divided off by walls, which occupants claim would cut their community in half and force them to walk around the building to see friends.

The 26 residents have been offered a cash reward of nearly �5,000 if they volunteer to leave.

Most Read

Stan Clover, 81, said: “We've got something here that money can't buy. We are happy and we've got a community here.”

His 96-year-old neighbour Frank Maltings, a former Royal Artillery gunner who served in Rhodesia, North Africa and the Middle East, said: “This place is alright just as it is - it is the best place I've been and the people here are remarkable.”

He said if the building was partitioned off as proposed, he would struggle to get out of the building because of the change in where the exits would be.

Another resident, an 85-year-old woman, said: “They will have to throw me out physically, and I will be clinging to the door handles if they do. They should not be closing this place, they should be making more places like it.”

John Pask, 83, is the chairman of the Northgate Lodge Social Activities Club, criticised Havebury's handling of the consultation and accused them of being secretive.

Risbygate ward councillor David Nettleton said most of the Northgate Lodge residents he had spoken to were not concerned about the cash payout and claimed they just wanted to remain where they were.

He said: “People are stopping me saying I've got to stop this. What I want to know is how they are going to shift people who do not want to go? I hope this recommendation will be shelved and I only want people to go if they want to go by their own consent.”

Karen Mayhew, director of operations for Havebury, said: “We can't make Northgate Lodge what it needs to be, so we are taking a responsible but difficult decision to plan some changes which will improve the single storey part of the complex and make it appealing for our elderly residents now and into the future.

“We also have to consider that there is a current over capacity of sheltered accommodation and that by leasing part of the complex, we are helping to meet some of the general housing needs which exist.

“The residents are understandably loyal to their community and we are consulting with each one individually to understand fully their needs and concerns. The feedback we receive will be considered by Havebury's Operations Committee which will meet in February.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus