Pensioner power sees Howard Cottage Housing Association plans scrapped

PROTESTING pensioners forced their landlord into a U-turn today (Wednesday) after they threatened to withhold their rent over plans to use their lounge area for an adult care group. Within an hour of their protest meeting, landlord Howard Cottage Housing

PROTESTING pensioners forced their landlord into a U-turn today (Wednesday) after they threatened to withhold their rent over plans to use their lounge area for an adult care group.

Within an hour of their protest meeting, landlord Howard Cottage Housing Association had backed down and scrapped its proposals.

Angry residents at MacFadyen Webb House in Norton Way North, Letchworth GC walked outside in support of two Comet staff who had been asked to leave the building by officials from the association.

The officials had turned up uninvited to a meeting by residents to discuss plans to use their communal area as a satellite for adult day care services.

Michael Slattery, 74, a resident who had convened the meeting, immediately confronted John Welch, the association's operations director, calling him a "whippersnapper" and that the Comet had been invited and not him.

Other residents joined in airing their anger and within minutes every resident, some in wheelchairs and on Zimmer frames, left the building and carried on their protest meeting outside.

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"Their behaviour was disgraceful," said Mr Slattery, a former driving instructor who has lived in Letchworth GC all his life.

"The news they are not going ahead with these plans is great and will be a great relief to all the residents who will so happy. I am sure the Comet coming today has helped them change their minds.

"The association was just steamrolling over us and trying to force us to accept something we did not want.

"They thought we would just accept their plan. Instead, we were going to fight them and everyone promised not to pay their rent until they got satisfaction and this plan was thrown out."

One woman who did not want to be named said: "What they have tried to do was an insult to all of us."

In a statement about scrapping plans to use the centre for between six and 10 people with low support needs for two days a week, people who would have been transferred from the Kennedy Gardens Day Centre at the Old Grammar School where the lease has not been renewed, the association said: "After consulting with our residents at MacFadyen Webb House, we have decided not to go ahead with inviting the Kennedy Gardens Day Centre group to use the lounge.

"We have come to this decision because the majority of residents we consulted with individually were not in favour of sharing their communal facilities with the group. We are still keen to stay involved with these important community groups.

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