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Sunday, 26 October 2014

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Don’t shift us to Carlisle, say Longtown home residents

A man who has lived in a sheltered housing scheme in Longtown for almost 30 years is determined to stay in the town when it is closed.

Terry Lytollis photo
Terry Lytollis

Terry Lytollis, 65, is one of 12 residents of the Ladyseat building, off Lochinvar Close, who will have to move when it shuts, scheduled to be by the end of March.

The residents were told of the closure at a meeting called by landlord Riverside Housing Association this week. Residents were told that there was a lack of demand for the accommodation offered at Ladyseat.

The residents will be given priority status for other housing in Longtown but they may have to move to Carlisle or elsewhere before this becomes available.

“I won’t be shifted to Carlisle,” Mr Lytollis said.

He pointed out that two of his brothers and a sister all live within walking distance of the building, which houses a mixture of bedsits and one bedroom flats.

Ladyseat, which opened in 1977, has capacity for 21 people but currently only houses 12. The residents are in their 60s, 70s and 80s and many of them have disabilities – but they are all very supportive of one another.

Mr Lytollis moved to Longtown at the age of five.

He had to give up his job as a road sweeper in Carlisle in the mid-1980s because of ill health and has lived in Ladyseat since he was 38.

“I don’t want to leave Longtown and I don’t want to leave here either,” he added.

Mr Lytollis has difficulty walking because of a knee caliper and has also suffered a heart attack. His accommodation at the building includes furniture which is tailored for him.

Ann Robb, a Longtown resident, spoke to The Cumberland News about her concern for her 81-year-old mother Joanna, who lives at Ladyseat. She is especially worried about the effect moving to temporary accommodation and then back to Longtown could have.

“Two moves for an older person is absolutely disgusting,” she said.

She believes residents and their families should have been given more time to come to terms with the situation – and earlier warning would have given them more chance to apply for new properties.

“How often does a suitable flat or bungalow come up in Longtown?” she added.

She is determined to keep her mother, who suffers from arthritis, in Longtown, where she was born and has lived for all of her life.

Paul Brown, the chairman of Arthuret parish council, was appalled at the situation, and that his group were not informed beforehand.

“We are very concerned and also surprised at the lack of communication,” he said. He said his group would fight to help the vulnerable residents.

Mr Brown was due to meet representatives from Riverside today.

A spokeswoman for the housing association said the agency recognised the residents’ strong ties to Longtown and wanted to rehome them within the community.

But she said the building is in need of major modifications, which would cost around £900,000.

Funding for this would come from the Homes and Communities Agency – but that only makes grants to projects with a proven demand and Ladyseat would not qualify.

Once emptied, the building is set to be demolished with Riverside consulting on what it will then be used for.

The spokeswoman added that an “administrative error” had meant the parish council was not told about the decision in advance but that the association had since spoken to its clerk.

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