Widow begs: Don't bulldoze my home

CHRIS HAVERGAL Local government correspondent, Cambridge Evening News, 25 October 2012

A WIDOW who is facing eviction under council plans to bulldoze and rebuild her home fears she won't survive the upheaval.

Frail Joyce Ablett, 74 said being forced to move out of her one-bedroom flat in Water Lane, East Chesterton, would be “devastating”.

She was speaking ahead of a debate tonight where council chiefs will face calls to review the city wide project.

At least three-quarters of the elderly residents at Water Lane opposed demolition of the properties and there were fears about limited consultation but the city council gave the scheme the green light earlier this month.

Tenants will be rehoused, but Mrs Ablett doubts she could live elsewhere.

She said: “I'm not saying people should feel sorry for me, but I don't think I could last anywhere else.

“I like being independent and I like being here. They've put us in a horrible position and it has been like a nightmare. I hope and pray they think again.”

Mrs Ablett said Water Lane had been her “first real home” because she spent much of her youth in children's homes, following the death of her mother. She has lived in her flat for 33 years, having spent three years in a property round the corner.

Mrs Ablett said: “It's a community here. We've seen people come and go but we've always been here for each other. My husband died here 15 years ago, and my father died here in my arms before that.

“I can take my memories, but I would be leaving their spirits because I can't take them with me.”

The council has agreed to replace the 24 properties in Water Lane with 14 new council properties and nine which will be sold on the open market, but a Labour motion which will be considered tonight calls for a full review of the city-wide programme.

Cllr Kevin Price, the party's housing spokesman, said new council houses were needed, but not at the expense of existing tenants”.

Cllr Catherine Smart, the executive councillor for housing, said: “I accept people are angry and upset but I believe their fears are unlikely to be realised.

“I don't like upsetting anybody but, if I have the responsibility for housing in the city, I have responsibility to get good stock of the type we need, for the long term.”

What the council wants to build

THE council wants to build 650 new homes over the next 15 years in a £95 million project.

Redevelopments of council properties have also been approved recently in Aylesborough Close, Arbury, Campkin Road, King's Hedges, and Barnwell Road, Abbey, as well as Colville Road and Augers Road in Cherry Hinton.

The council says the properties are small, outdated, and not of the type that tenants want nowadays. It also wants to provide a broader mix of properties, ending the current dominance of one-bedroom units.

Related