Frustration as residents ‘always told no’ in bid to improve council estates

Bexhill Road where houses need fencing and lighting in Woodingdean
Bexhill Road where houses need fencing and lighting in Woodingdean

Money to improve council estates seems to be unavailable for those living in houses, according to a tenant representative.

Woodingdean Tenants and Residents Association representative Janet Gearing was told that the cash was for publicly accessible housing land and shared community facilities owned by Brighton and Hove City Council.

She said that she was frustrated with her unsuccessful attempts to bid for cash from the ‘estates development budget’.

Tenants and communities are encouraged to bid for a portion of the cash for improvements.

Mrs Gearing was particularly frustrated that the money cannot be used to pay for fencing, despite being available in the past.

She told the council’s East Area Housing Panel that when she went around the area to find other ways of using the cash for improvements, she was always told no.

She said: “We’ve got so many individual houses in Woodingdean and they need fencing.

“Every time we put other bids in for lighting (and) hard-standings, the answer is always turned down.

“I get told, ‘yes, you can have that’ and then in the next breath told no.”

She told the panel that residents had asked for lighting on the steps down to houses in Bexhill Road and the grass verges fixed but without any success.

A request for benches by the shops was refused as it was not on council land.

Woodingdean Conservative councillors Steve Bell and Dee Simson backed Mrs Gearing’s plea for some idea where the money could be spent.

Councillor Bell said: “It’s not communal. We have lots houses there which are council tenants.

“We have a duty of care because fences are broken, falling down and dilapidated.”

He described fencing as picked up in a piecemeal way.

Councillor Simson was particularly concerned about an elderly resident whose fence was broken, allowing the neighbour’s dogs into her back garden.

The council’s assistant director of housing Martin Reid offered to go around the area with Mrs Gearing and her local councillors to look at what could be done using the estates development budget.