‘One rule for one’ row in flats furore

Friends Margaret O'Neill and Agnes Slevin are being told they have to leave their home in Somerset Avenue by Blackpool Coastal Housing.

Friends Margaret O'Neill and Agnes Slevin are being told they have to leave their home in Somerset Avenue by Blackpool Coastal Housing.

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Elderly pensioners have been left distraught after being told they have to move out of the homes they have lived in for years.

Maggie O’Neill, 78, and Agnes Slevin, 81, have been told by Blackpool Coastal Housing they will be re-located to allow redevelopment work to convert their flats into family homes.

And the pair, who live on Somerset Avenue, Blackpool, are querying what they call a “one rule for one, and another for another” after realising their neighbour and friend, Pam Alty, 83, of nearby Park Road, was told she is exempt from the move. Her flat will not now be altered.

Mrs O’Neill, who has emphysema, a lung disease, said her health problems will make it very difficult for her to move home.

She said: “I don’t feel, at my age, I want to be gallivanting around. I’ve not got the breath to do it. With Pam they had an emergency meeting and she got the letter the next day but we don’t know when we’re going to move.”

Mrs Alty was sent a letter from Blackpool Coastal Housing in April 2012 stating: “Due to your individual circumstances you... will not be required to move.”

She said: “I was over the moon when I got it. I wouldn’t have survived a move.”

Coun Gillian Campbell, cabinet member for housing, said: “Blackpool Coastal Housing will be managing the process with those residents affected. We look at every case on an individual basis and are always sensitive to the needs of elderly residents who, at times, need stability for health reasons.

“We are currently in discussions with residents in this area and we will continue to look for mutually acceptable solutions.”

Norma Hardman, 72, a friend of the three women, said: “If they can do it for one why can’t they do it for two more? We’ve got a little community here.”

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More homes on cards to be developed

Work is being carried out after Blackpool Council secured funding, from the Homes and Community Agency, for a three-year project to develop affordable housing in the resort.

Coun Gillian Campbell, cabinet member for housing, said: “This is an important programme as we have a significant oversupply of flats and are lacking in quality, affordable family homes.”

Already 38 flats have been converted into homes, with a further 30 proposed to be converted into 15 homes in the next year.

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