Pensioners fear loss of popular garden meeting place
Saul Cooke-Black, local democracy reporter
A group of pensioners fear they will lose a key part of a cherished garden after a housing association said it will not carry out repairs.
The garden at the Belle View retirement housing scheme in Cwmbran is well used by residents across 24 flats and has won two Green Flag Awards and a Keep Wales Tidy award over the years.
Residents say they have looked after the garden and spent more than £2,000 out of their own pockets on maintenance and repairs, despite the housing scheme being run by Bron Afon community housing.
But now they say they cannot afford to spend any more money on the pergola and planter within the garden which is in need of further repair.
Bron Afon housing association has said it will not carry out repairs and that the pergola will need to be removed.
Ricky Edwards, 76, said fully repairing it would cost between £5,000 and £9,000, but that a less expensive option could make it last for up to 15 years.
“I have mixed emotions”, Mr Edwards said.
“I would hate to see it go because of the work we have done on it, but it’s getting hard work for us.
“Half of me is saying take it away, because I’m getting older, and half of me is saying we will lose a lovely garden.”
Joan Lambert said it would be ‘sad’ to lose the structure, and that the garden – and meeting with others there – helped her after she had a stroke.
“I had to learn to walk again,” she said.
“It was a lifesaver for me because I could come over here. It was better than medicine.”
The pergola in the garden is a popular meeting place for residents in the area, particularly during the summer.
June Joseph said residents want to keep it but that they need support from Bron Afon.
“They did not tell us we would have to repair it,” she said.
“We are pensioners, and we can’t afford it.”
Mark Doubler, head of customer and community services at Bron Afon, said: “We know how much the pergola and planter enhanced the communal garden at Belle Vue when it was first installed and has been enjoyed by residents over the years.
“However, we did explain to residents that we would not be able maintain the upkeep of any repairs it might need and that we would have to remove it once it became a health and safety hazard.
“Members of our community development team will meet with residents next week to see how we can support them to find funding for fixing the pergola.”
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Any local carpenters in the community with a couple of hours to donate and garden centres with a tin of shed paint they could part with…bob a job week for the cause…