News

We don't know s***: frustrated Pioneer Cottage residents

Pioneer Cottages residents Wal Baker, Raymond Kelly, Danny Murphy and Ray Britton are frustrated at the communication from the council on the future of pensioner housing in Warwick.
Pioneer Cottages residents Wal Baker, Raymond Kelly, Danny Murphy and Ray Britton are frustrated at the communication from the council on the future of pensioner housing in Warwick. Jayden Brown

FEAR of homelessness has made the past 12 months a far cry from the peaceful, comfortable life Pioneer Cottage residents had hoped for.

It's been a year since the residents were sent a letter from the Southern Downs Regional Council, informing them the units they call home would be sold.

Not a day has gone by since without the residents questioning their future.

Now they're faced with silence, not knowing what the future holds.

Resident Wal Baker said the last he had heard about the future of the units was in August.

The 78-year-old was told by the council a decision would be made in October.

Like his neighbours, he is frustrated about not knowing what's happening.

"I wanted to hear something yesterday," he said.

"God damn... it's been 12 months.

"The council have a real cheek keeping us in limbo."

The residents are determined to "bang down the door" to have their voices heard.

With an election just two months away, the residents want to make sure their plight hasn't been forgotten.

Ray Britton moved into his unit nine years ago.

He's lived through floods, but nothing has left him as insecure as this issue.

"We came here to grow old and die... that was the plan, to have somewhere comfortable to live out the rest of our days," he said.

"If they sold this place, where the hell would I go?"

Mr Britton said he hadn't heard anything, except what he had seen in the paper.

"They send us a little newsletter that tells us nothing," he said.

"None of us know s***.

"They (the council) need to be poked and prodded - they should be answerable to us residents."

In August, the then Director of Business and Community Services David Tuxford informed the Daily News negotiations with the State Government were under way.

Mr Tuxford said at the time a decision would be just weeks away.

Fast forward five months and those negotiations are still going, CEO David Keenan has confirmed.

"The SDRC and Minister for Housing and Public Works are still negotiating the details pertaining to the pensioner housing," he said.

Questions about the council's plans for the units in 2016 and what communication and consultation it had undertaken to keep the pensioners informed were left unanswered.

In January last year the council held a closed meeting with the residents to discuss the issue, promising to keep them updated. Resident Raymond Kelly said the council had failed in its promise to keep residents informed.

"We want to know what's going on," he said.

"They said if the place sold they'd give us 12 months' notice."

The residents, who are a mix of older, disabled and retired pensioners, said they felt let down by the council and would vote accordingly in March.

Topics:  community housing, pioneer cottages, southern downs regional council, warwick



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