Outrage over plans to rehouse evacuees

PUBLISHED: 07:43 17 August 2006 | UPDATED: 21:15 29 May 2010

Front from left: Irene Perry, Joan Francis, Marie Wimpress, Linda Chilver, Hilda Newton. Back from left: Jean Cummings, Brenda Grebol and Anne Hempenstall - Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

Front from left: Irene Perry, Joan Francis, Marie Wimpress, Linda Chilver, Hilda Newton. Back from left: Jean Cummings, Brenda Grebol and Anne Hempenstall - Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

ELDERLY people are up in arms over plans to house Lebanese evacuees at their sheltered housing complex. Holloway Crescent in Leaden Roding houses people over the age of 60 who need extra help from housing officers. Because the residents are vulnerable Ut

ELDERLY people are up in arms over plans to house Lebanese evacuees at their sheltered housing complex.

Holloway Crescent in Leaden Roding houses people over the age of 60 who need extra help from housing officers.

Because the residents are vulnerable Uttlesford District Council has a strict policy for new residents and there is an intercom system for visitors.

But last Saturday Ann Hempenstall whose 83-year-old mother lives in the housing block said: "A man came to the gate asking to be let in but the residents didn't want to let him in as they had no idea who he was.

"He explained the council had sent him to look round the property to see if it was suitable for him."

The confused residents were left feeling vulnerable and afraid, unsure of what was planned for their complex.

Mrs Hempenstall added: "I understand Uttlesford District Council has an obligation to rehouse evacuees, but not to be palming people off into sheltered, and secure accommodation, just to fill spaces.

"My mother and the other residents are now worried about their security and some have lived here almost 10 years. They're the friendliest bunch you'll ever meet when new residents move in, but not when the flats are being filled with people under 60 and who could compromise their safety."

The flat earmarked for the new tenant, has been left unoccupied for almost three years and concerned friends and relatives feel the council may now be trying to fill the existing eight vacant properties.

Uttlesford District Council held a meeting on Tuesday morning to "convey some important information" to residents. However they were not informed of the imminent meeting until the evening before when they were sent a letter.

Resident Hilda Newton, 83, said: "Many of us had things planned but we had to cancel everything to attend the meeting. I've lived here for seven years but now feel worried about living here with these plans."

Mrs Hempenstall added: "Although the proposed couple would be moving into the old warden's house within the complex there is no doubt that security could be compromised as you have to either have a key or know the number to gain access to the grounds.

"It just wouldn't be safe any more. There are eight vacant flats here at the moment, and we just feel this is the tip of the iceberg. Who will they be moving into this vulnerable community next?"

Rod Chamberlain, executive manager for housing at Uttlesford District Council said: "Following the government's decision to evacuate British citizens from the war zone in Lebanon many hundreds of people arrived in the UK. Under the homelessness law UDC has a duty to find these people accommodation.

"Residents have had the position explained to them and we will be doing work to the dwelling to overcome concerns expressed at the council meeting.

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