‘Outraged’ – this is how residents of a Lancing estate have been left feeling after council staff removed their personal belongings from the communal gardens.
Residents of Beachcoft Place said they were ‘astounded’ to find council staff removing benches, garden furniture and cutting through chains to remove bikes in their gardens on Friday.
Resident Gloria Eveleigh, who is chair of the residents’ association as well as the chair of Lancing Parish Council, said: “It was like a police raid.
“This is an act of theft as I see it.”
Items from the estate, which has a mix of Adur Homes flats and privately owned flats, were taken away in a council van, leaving residents demanding their return.
Gloria said staff told her that residents had been warned in a letter that any items which did not have permission to be in the gardens would be removed.
I am dismayed and disappointed that this one heavy handed act has destroyed all the positive work we have been doingGloria Eveleigh, chair of the residents’ association
Yet many of the residents in the estate had permission to have benches and garden furniture – as long as they were for communal use, according to Gloria.
She said: “It seems to me that Adur Homes changed the goal posts for obtaining permission regarding garden furniture, but then failed to communicate this.”
Residents had been working hard to improve community spirit at the block, she said, adding: “The garden furniture enabled residents to sit outside together to have some social interaction.
“I am dismayed and disappointed that this one heavy handed act has destroyed all the positive work we have been doing.”
Resident Neil Robinson, 52, was ‘extremely annoyed’ to find his trailer, which he has kept in the gardens for more than three years, had been taken away.
He said the actions ‘lacked common sense’ and had ‘completely ruined any good feeling’ towards the council.
An Adur District Council spokesman said its policy, agreed by a tenant-led forum, is that personal items cannot be left in communal gardens other than when they are being used.
“The policy is designed to balance the health and safety of residents and visitors to buildings owned and managed by Adur Homes with accessibility to, and the opportunity to enjoy, communal gardens and outdoor spaces,” the spokesman said.
“Sometime this means there can be a tension between those who wish to have a number of personal items in the gardens and those who do not.”
The spokesman said that ‘usual practice’ was to write to residents ahead of any clearance, but said: “Unfortunately this didn’t happen on this occasion, and we are very sorry for this omission and for any distress our actions have caused.”
The removed items will be returned in liaison with staff, the council said.
The spokesman added: “Moving forward, we are keen to work with our residents to review any suggestions for the development and improvement of our communal areas.
“This can include the joint applications from residents for items such as communal seats, which, if requested by a majority of residents for the use of all, can certainly be considered.”