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Elderly residents' anger at parking permit changes

PUBLISHED: 07:33 30 April 2019 | UPDATED: 09:59 30 April 2019

Elderly residents are unhappy at the permit changes  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Elderly residents are unhappy at the permit changes Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Elderly residents are considering moving from their East Suffolk village after their parking permits were removed.

Residents living in Richard Kitson Court will now have to park at the Hill  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNResidents living in Richard Kitson Court will now have to park at the Hill Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

People living in Richard Kitson Court, Wickham Market are concerned at the impact of the removal of the permits, which comes into force at the start of May.

The court is home to 36 social housing flats owned by retired or elderly residents.

To qualify to live at Richard Kitson Court, residents need to be over 60 years of age or 55 with a disability.

Until recently the flats were considered to be sheltered housing until a loss of state funding saw this status removed.

Those living on the site had previously been given permits to park their vehicles in the Chapel Lane short stay car park which sits next to their homes.

Since the changes to the site's status, however, residents have been told that they cannot renew their parking permits.

They will instead have to pay to park in the long-stay car park on the Hill, a five-minute walk across one of the village's main roads.

A spokesman for East Suffolk Council said: “The permit agreement between the council and the residents of Richard Kitson Court was based on the facility providing sheltered accommodation.

“Given that the scheme has now changed, and there is considerable demand for parking spaces in the location, we believe that the fairest solution is for those with genuine mobility issues to apply for the blue badge scheme.

“Providing allocated parking on a case to case basis is much fairer to everyone in the area – particularly visitors to the nearby surgery who may also have mobility issues.”

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67-year-old Stephen Day, who lives in Richard Kitson Court, said: “I took on the flat knowing I could park in the car park.

“I have lived here for three years and I am thinking of moving out.

“We are all old. I have been retired for three years and have health issues. I cannot go walking miles for a car park.

Neighbour Dorothy Duffin added: “There are five of us looking for another place.”

Mrs Duffin said residents would ultimately prefer a new parking area built to the rear of the court.

A spokesman for Wickham Market Parish Council said it was aware of the changes and had raised concerns about elderly residents.

A spokesman said: “The parish council was informed by Flagship Housing last year that Richard Kitson Court is no longer classed as sheltered accommodation.

“The change of status happened without any communication via Flagship and the parish council did raise concerns over this change as they are aware there are some very elderly and vulnerable residents.”

Sam Greenacre, head of housing at Flagship Homes, said: “In April 2018 Suffolk County Council withdrew all funding for support services across Suffolk.

“As the landlord, we informed customers of this change in January and March 2018.”

“Our housing officer, who is there to support with any tenancy related issues, is in regular communication with customers at Richard Kitson Court.

“Suffolk County Council provides care packages for those with care needs on an individual basis and continue to do so.”

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