ACHA residents forced to remove outdoor seating

The additional seating, which has now been removed, that residents purchased for a communal area at Meadowburn. 
The additional seating, which has now been removed, that residents purchased for a communal area at Meadowburn. 

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A group of residents who clubbed together and purchased outdoor seating for a communal area at Meadowburn have been left ‘gobsmacked’ and ‘devastated’ after Argyll Community Housing Association (ACHA) instructed them to remove it.

When lockdown came into effect and people were no longer allowed to enter each other’s homes, the neighbours purchased a second-hand wooden seating table for the outside area to encourage all neighbours, especially those who are elderly and on their own, to chat to each other at a safe distance.

George Harrison, one of the residents who contributed, said: ‘It created a resurgence in neighbourly spirit and a sense of close community which was lacking before lockdown. We then decided to chip in and purchase some more seating for the outside communal area for more neighbours to have the opportunity to enjoy company and have a chat.

‘However we recently received a letter from ACHA, instructing us to remove all furniture from the square.’

The letter from ACHA requested that ‘all items of furniture’ be removed from the front of the building as it ‘restricts other residents from using the area’ and ‘can cause a disturbance with gatherings in the area’.

In response to ACHA, Mr Harrison wrote: ‘Previously no one went near the ant-infested square until we began to weed and cut the grass at the close, put out very nice pot plants, purchased a seating area, and kept the close and outside area immaculate.

‘Obviously you do not encourage neighbours trying to improve the outside area that you own.’

ACHA said that although the garden furniture ‘may be beneficial to some residents’, it ‘can cause a disturbance and be intimidating for others’.

The housing association also pointed out that it does not generally carry out pest control in common areas and suggested that concerned residents carry out pest control measures themselves.

Mr Harrison said: ‘We all understand there are rules and regulations, but surely ACHA could have approached the situation in a more sympathetic and supportive way.

‘An ideal outcome would have been some sort of communication and negotiation between neighbours and ACHA to try and achieve a communal area to which all neighbours could have contributed and could utilise, with assistance and guidance from ACHA.

‘We are all devastated that we are unable to meet, chat and have a cup of tea with our neighbours in the seating area anymore. We started to create and build a closer and friendlier neighbourhood, which was never the case before. People used to walk by without saying hello, but that changed with the creation of that outside seating area.

‘I wish ACHA would have been more impartial and had seen that there was a great opportunity to build on what we were doing here at Meadowburn.’

An ACHA spokesperson told the Courier: ‘ACHA is always delighted to see tenants and residents taking pride in their local area and making improvements. In this instance, ACHA had been made aware of concerns raised by a number of tenants who indicated they were being disturbed at night.

‘ACHA sought the views of local residents. Although the majority of those contacted were in favour of retaining the seating, there remained a proportion of those contacted who were opposed to it.

‘On reflection we felt it would be appropriate to ask for the seating to be removed. The area in question is common ground and we felt, on balance, this was in the collective best interest of all residents. The residents at Meadowburn comprise a mix of ACHA tenants and also private owners.’