Hung out to dry: Disabled pensioner’s washing post taken away after long-running row in Hartlepool

A disabled pensioner says she is ‘devastated’ after a washing post was removed in a long-running dispute with her resident’s association.

Friday, 29th March 2019, 5:00 am
Updated Friday, 29th March 2019, 6:28 am
Patricia Brown from The Sycamores next to the spot where her washing pole was removed by the residents association. Picture by FRANK REID

Patricia Brown, 73, who has metal plates in both arms and shoulders as a result of previous injuries, had the metal post installed near her home on The Sycamores private estate in Hartlepool three years ago.

But the estate’s resident’s association told her it was in breach of the terms of her lease and instructed her to take it down.

Mrs Brown with three letters from the residents association. Picture by FRANK REID

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Mrs Brown refused and following years of wrangles with the association, she recently returned home to find the post had been removed and taken away.

She said: “I didn’t think they would ever do it. I went in the town to the bank and came home. I had a load of washing to hang out. I went round the corner and my post was gone.

“I was devastated. That was my property.”

The washing post was erected on an area of common land a few feet from her apartment and could have a line attached to it when needed.

The washing post that was removed from outside Patricia Brown's home in a dispute with the estate's residents association.

Mrs Brown added: “It was specially made for me. It was a low one so I didn’t have to put my hands up too high.

“They took my post down because they said when people walk past they could see my washing.”

About five years ago she suffered a broken right shoulder and elbow after she was knocked over by a drink driver and later injured her other arm when she fell over on ice.

It led to her selling her home and moving into a downstairs apartment at The Sycamores in Rift House.

Shortly after Mrs Brown moved on to the estate in June 2013 she bought a rotary washing line but says she was told to take it down as it was on common land which she did.

The properties on the estate are leasehold. A clause of the lease is that residents must not hang clothes or other articles on the outside of their properties apart from in their gardens.

Mrs Brown took legal advice on the post and claimed removing it would be against the Disability Act.

At the end of January a property management company, which acts on behalf of the resident’s association, wrote to Mrs Brown giving her seven days to remove the washing pole.

It said it contravened the terms of the lease adding: “Failure to do so within the given time will result in us sending out our maintenance team to remove it on your behalf.

“There are alternative drying areas available for your use.”

On February 8, they wrote again stating: “After due consideration, the committee have decided that the washing pole will come down, with the option for yourself to use a small rotary dryer.

“This would be required to be brought in after use as it would be in public view.

“The committee are offering you a genuine compromise.”

A rotary washing line has since been installed, but Mrs Brown says it is too high for her to use due to her disability.

The managing agent of the property management company, and secretary of The Sycamores Resident’s Association, both declined to comment.