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Labour council branded 'hypocrites' over South Norwood homeless families row

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ELDERLY residents have labelled the Labour council "hypocrites" after it moved homeless families into their block – despite campaigning against plans to do so months before.

Residents of the sheltered accommodation block Tonbridge House in Penge Road, South Norwood, expected the council to reverse the Conservative administration's plans to move homeless families into their block.

A number were so convinced, they even took to beating the streets banging Labour's drum in the run-up to the election campaign.

But Labour councillor Alison Butler, cabinet member for homes and regeneration, moved in homeless families just weeks after the party's return to power in May.

This has sparked fury from residents, including Bill Ramsey, who said: "This lady does turn. It's a blatant U-turn which oozes hypocrisy and openly displays her lack of integrity, loyalty and any sense of honour to her colleagues."

South Norwood's three Labour councillors attended a scrutiny committee meeting in January where Mr Ramsey, 81, vociferously spoke out against the plans to move homeless families into the house.

Tonbridge House and Gillett House, in Thornton Heath, were two blocks for which the previous council pushed through plans to house homeless families. Tonbridge House has five flats filled while Gillett House has 23.

But Cllr Butler said although it was a tough decision and understands the concerns of the residents, it had to be made due to the homelessness crisis in the borough.

She said: "We did have a long and frank discussion with the residents and most of the issues they mentioned did not have anything to do with the actions of the families."

Cllr Butler also said a lot of the housing problems the new council is facing are related to coalition Government policy. "I think the residents of Tonbridge were disappointed we haven't reversed the decision but I just don't see how we can," she added.

"Is this an ideal decision? No it's probably not but is it better than seeing families in bed and breakfast accommodation? Yes it is."

Mr Ramsey claimed a front entrance intercom door had been vandalised by some of the block's new residents.

Although it was fixed nine days later, the timing mechanism was changed and the door swung closed too quickly for an 88-year-old lady, causing it to be jammed between a door and her mobility carriage.

The lady, who used to go out every day, has brittle bone disease and is now housebound after the leg became infected and five weeks in the AMU unit of Croydon University Hospital.

Mr Ramsey said: "Her whole quality of life has been taken away. She used to go out with a blind man in the block on dial-a-ride trips and they depended on each other. But she is really going downhill now and needs round the clock care.

"He's really suffering as well now. We are very worried."

Labour council branded 'hypocrites' over South Norwood homeless families row


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