Pensioners 'stand guard' and prevent homeless man being moved into their Southsea apartment block

PENSIONERS of a private residential home ‘stood guard’ after being irritated when attempts were made to move in a homeless man before an elderly lady was allegedly ‘barged’ into railings.

Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 4:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 5:17 pm

Police were called following the melee at Southsea apartment block Eastfields on April 20 as tempers boiled over following the bitter stand-off.

Residents from the Victoria Road North block - which includes people with serious health conditions and a frail 102 year-old woman - were incensed a stranger could be allowed into the block where vulnerable people have been self-isolating.

Eastfields residents, which only houses people aged 60-plus, vented their fury that the homeless man had not been properly vetted whilst having concerns whether he was old enough to live in the tight-knit community. The male turned up with a property owner, their entourage, and Portsmouth City Council officers .

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Picture: PA

Resident Malcolm Carson, 79, who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, described how events descended into disarray outside the front entrance as residents refused to let the homeless man move in.

He said: ‘All of a sudden a man came charging towards us before barging through about seven of us knocking a lady against railings and leaving her with a bruise. I got pushed out the way.

‘I went inside after him to make sure no one else could get inside. The man came up to me and said: “Are you threatening me?” I just told him to go away and he went up to the flat and took all the homeless man’s bags.

‘He tried to bring the man in and I said: “You can’t bring him in.” I asked the homeless man to wait outside and he did.’

He added: ‘I’m very annoyed about it all. The (homeless) man has to go to hospital three times a week for treatment. He could end up bringing coronavirus here. If one of us gets it then the whole block could get it.’

The homeless man’s items were retrieved after attempts to move him in were abandoned following the residents’ revolt.

Another pensioner from Eastfields, who did not want to be named, said: ‘It was not appropriate to have the homeless man here. We have vulnerable people here and have been in lockdown for eight weeks.’

Residents said they were told the male was being moved from the Ibis Hotel in Fratton, where, as reported, there have been problems with rough sleepers temporarily placed there.

But a council spokeswoman said the homeless man had not been staying at the hotel but was ‘not sure’ where he was before.

A police spokesman said officers attended an ‘altercation’ which was deemed a civil dispute before a subsequent incident.

‘A short while later, police received another report of a common assault at the block in which it’s alleged a woman in her 70s was shoulder-barged,’ the spokesman said.

‘Enquiries into the common assault remain ongoing.’

A spokesman for FirstPort, which manages the block, said: ‘Leases allow for apartments to be sub-let by their owner. As a retirement property the lease stipulates a minimum age criteria which must be the case both for owner occupiers and any tenants.’

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