Imagine you’re a sailor or soldier returning after a period away serving Queen and country. You’re looking forward to seeing your loved ones again and being back in familiar surroundings.
But when you get home you find the Ministry of Defence housing estate where you live is in a shocking state. That must be galling.
So much for the government’s claims that the welfare of servicemen and women is a top priority in upholding the military covenant. Those who live in Matapan Road, Normandy Road and Narvik Road would beg to differ – and who can blame them?
Today The News reveals how the estate in Hilsea has not been properly maintained, meaning that grass has been allowed to grow almost waist-high, mould covers house walls and dead flies litter communal areas.
Service personnel who rent homes there and pay £200 a year for grounds maintenance claim numerous complaints to the MoD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation have fallen on deaf ears.
Some have got so fed up with the lack of action that they’ve bought their own mowers to tackle lawns that have come to resemble meadows.
This is no way to treat any tenants, let alone those in the services.
It isn’t just about aesthetics. The DIO’s failure to ensure the estate’s upkeep is satisfactory has caused understandable safety concerns among residents.
As one sailor, who has just returned from sea, said: ‘It’s worrying for me because of my kids.
‘There’s all weeds and nettles and someone might have thrown some broken glass in there.’
Meanwhile, a soldier added: ‘The cleaners hardly ever turn up and when they do come, my five-year-old could do a better job.’
When The News contacted the MoD, contractors were swiftly dispatched to cut the grass.
But there are clearly bigger welfare issues here that need sorting out.
Soldiers and sailors deserve much better. While the DIO says living accommodation is a priority, the evidence in Hilsea suggests otherwise.