Christ­mas has come early for res­i­dents of a Port Hed­land re­tire­ment vil­lage, who will stay put after their homes were deemed a cy­clone risk and were told to live else­where. Pic­tured are res­i­dents with fam­i­lies and sup­port­ers.

North West Telegraph - - Front Page - Sy­narah Mur­phy

Se­nior cit­i­zens who faced be­ing kicked out of their long-term homes in Port Hed­land have been given the best Christ­mas present they could wish for by be­ing told they can stay put.

North West Tele­graph high­lighted the plight of peo­ple liv­ing in the Port Hed­land Re­tire­ment Vil­lage on Novem­ber 8, after the the Town of Port Hed­land sent them a let­ter telling them they had to move be­cause of con­cerns about the safety of the build­ings.

The Town of­fered al­ter­na­tive hous­ing 20km away at Osprey Vil­lage in South Hed­land but the de­ci­sion was re­versed at a spe­cial meet­ing last week after pub­lic out­cry and protests from res­i­dents.

More than 100 peo­ple crowded the coun­cil cham­bers, many of which voiced their con­cern in pub­lic ques­tion time.

Mayor Camilo Blanco threat­ened to ad­journ the meet­ing a num­ber of times be­cause of heated dis­agree­ments and ar­gu­ing be­tween coun­cil­lors, as well as at­ten­dees.

The mo­tion for res­i­dents to con­tinue liv­ing on the premises un­til their lease ex­pired next year was passed five votes to four.

Mayor Blanco said he was not happy with the de­ci­sion and hoped coun­cil mem­bers con­sid­ered their votes care­fully.

“It is cy­clone sea­son and in an event of a cy­clone, this de­ci­sion will now re­flect on the Town of Port Hed­land if there are any se­ri­ous safety con­cerns or dam­age at the Port Hed­land Re­tire­ment Vil­lage,” he said.

“What­ever we do as a coun­cil will af­fect the town’s growth and im­prove­ment.

“Res­i­dents do not have to move to Osprey Vil­lage, al­though this is the best al­ter­nate ac­com­mo­da­tion iden­ti­fied in Hed­land — Osprey units can­not re­main va­cant past the Jan­uary date.”

Res­i­dents spokes­woman Chrissie McDow­ell said she was ap­palled with the Town and how el­derly res­i­dents were treated.

She said many res­i­dents were happy their voices had been heard and would con­tinue to fight back with the help of the com­mu­nity.

“These res­i­dents have a right to be treated hu­manely as ten­ants,” she said.

“The Town did not give us the op­por­tu­nity to make a de­ci­sion when they planned to re­move res­i­dents. They were not con­sid­ered in this de­ci­sion and we’re send­ing them to a strange part of town with no plan on bring­ing them back.

“Why was the mat­ter not open for dis­cus­sion be­fore re­ceiv­ing the let­ter from ToPH?

“I am happy the res­i­dents are not go­ing any­where. They can stay in the com­fort of their homes for Christ­mas. Res­i­dents are over the moon about the de­ci­sion and will con­tinue to fight for their hu­man rights.”

Pic­ture: Sy­narah Mur­phy

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