Portsmouth residents told their eye-catching displays are 'excessive' by housing charity

A ROW has broken out after residents who entertain passers-by with colourful seasonal displays have been told their work is ‘excessive’.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 4:01 pm

People living in two flats in Highland Road, Southsea, delight pedestrians and businesses nearby with their Christmas, Halloween and all-year decorations. They have been doing so for at least 13 years.

But now the charity in charge has warned they have become too much, and fear they could fall and hurt someone.

Armed forces charity Haig Housing Trust provides homes for veterans, and their widows or widowers.

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Flats in Highland Road near Andover Road in Southsea in 2020. Picture: Alan Cooper

Portsmouth City Council armed forces champion Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, told The News: ‘I’m completely on the side of residents, they make the place look fun - they have pride in the community.

‘Why would a housing association which is there to support former services personnel be so difficult?

‘It’s a positive for the community, not a negative. If people want to cheer the place up and make things look good why would anybody object?’

The flats’ occupants, who put out a pro-NHS display last year, have not spoken to The News for fear they will be chucked out.

A lovely colourful photo a display of flowers at 51/53 Highland Road, Southsea in 2018. Picture: Irene Strange

Phil Wicker and Les Carstairs previously told this newspaper of their pride in putting out D-Day commemorative decorations in 2019.

Such are their efforts that Les has previously won awards from Hampshire in Bloom and the South Coast in Bloom, as well as claiming the gold and silver gild at Portsmouth in Bloom.

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A spokesman for the trust said it had ‘not told any of our beneficiaries that they cannot cannot put out things on their balconies/building’.

The flats in Highland Road, Portsmouth on April 13, 2021. Picture: Habibur Rahman

But the charity confirmed prior written permission is needed and nothing is allowed that would pose a hazard, breach local bylaws or affect neighbours.

The spokesman said: ‘We do not – nor have not – any concern regarding the hanging of external flags, seasonal displays such as at Christmas or at Halloween, external flower baskets and the like, so long as the criteria I have mentioned above have been met.

‘However, in recent years some of these displays have become excessive, with fixings that are difficult to check and that appear top heavy, constituting in our professional judgement a topple or fall hazard, especially where, for instance, young children may be tempted to reach for or handle these.

Phil Wicker (left) and Les Carstairs outside their D-Day garden in Highland Road, Southsea

‘We work incredibly hard to maintain a fair, proportionate and considerate balance on these occasions’

Anyone in breach of their tenancy is written to first in a bid to find a solution, including removing the items, he added.

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