Blooming spoilsports

11:24 03 September 2012

Bronte Court, Exmouth

Bronte Court, Exmouth

Archant

A group of Exmouth pensioners living at a residential complex are fighting for their rights to lift a ban on gardening made by the home’s management company.

Pensioners from Exmouth - embroiled in a war of the roses after being banned from gardening at a residential home - are fighting for their rights amid claims they are ‘too old’.

A group of Bronte Court residents in previous years have scooped several Exmouth in Bloom awards for their green-fingered community spirit, tending communal gardens.

This year, the trophy cabinet stands empty because the gardeners were told by Bronte Court’s management company, Peverel Retirement, ‘resident participation in gardening needs to cease’, claiming it had received ‘numerous complaints’.

The management company denied its house manager banned residents because they were ‘too old’ to tend the communal gardens.

It said he told residents ‘we are all getting older now and need to be careful in the areas we are working in the garden’.

A letter from developer McCarthy and Stone originally told those moving into the complex ‘residents may be invited to ‘lend a hand’ should gardening be one of their interests’.

Concerned families of residents have contacted the Journal, claiming a U-turn decision has affected their loved-ones’ well-being and physical health.

A son-in-law of a Bronte Court resident, who did not want to be named, said: “It leads me to believe they don’t really care about the residents.

“I feel my only course of action is to make the local public aware of how the elderly residents are being treated.

“The residents just wanted a quiet, peaceful life in their retirement. I am concerned as to why, after a number of years, the residents were suddenly being barred from actively contributing to their own gardens.

“They did not enter Exmouth in Bloom this year and their gardens are not a patch on 12 months ago. Needless to say, this is not of their own choosing.”

Another family member said their relative had ‘been in tears’ at the decision and was receiving counselling.

Antidepressants were prescribed to another resident on learning that gardening was outlawed. Their relative said: “It is supposed to be their home. They feel like they have no rights. They feel like everything they bought into is a lie and the community spirit has been killed.”

Peverel Retirement said it was ‘committed to consulting residents on decisions which affect their homes’, ‘appreciated’ the residents’ gardening efforts, said the ‘majority’ it spoke to had expressed a wish for a professional gardener, adding the matter was now in the hands of an external mediator.

McCarthy and Stone was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

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