I was most interested to read the article by Tony Souter on the difficulties he experienced in trying to arrange accommodation at Alton Abbey for Ukrainian refugees, since this was exactly the reaction I got when I suggested Bulmer House in Petersfield could be used for the same purpose.
There was much talk of how we would love to help – but there was, it seems, always a but.
Bulmer House has now been empty for the better part of ten years while council and South Downs National Park Authority officials engage in an apparently endless exercise to develop the site in a manner which is appropriate for a national park, while at the same time meeting the need to provide accommodation for local elderly and frail residents.
It is currently bogged down (excuse the pun) in a debate on drainage.
It is worth noting Hampshire County Council has had to maintain the house and grounds at considerable expense during the whole time it has been unoccupied.
I fully understand landlords of whatever nature are wary of allowing tenants in their property for fear they may be difficult to evict once their lease has expired, but this should not be beyond the wit of man. It is ironic that a commendable desire to protect tenants has resulted in a lack of available accommodation for those, like Ukrainian refugees, who are most in need of it.
As Tony rightly points out, our zealous concern for the legal niceties has led to a lack of compassion and consequent moral bankruptcy.
By Rodney Clark
Bell Hill Ridge, Petersfield