Kids facing ‘eviction’ from tent set up by parents

Tent eviction, Laurel Walk, Horsham
Tent eviction, Laurel Walk, Horsham

YOUNGSTERS are facing ‘eviction’ from a tent put up by parents who want to ‘give the children something to do’ throughout the summer holidays.

Over ten youths had flocked to the canvas each day since it was put up in Laurel Walk, Horsham, on Tuesday July 26.

It was erected by resident and parent Lorenzo Iebba, aged 40, in a bid to ‘bring together the community’ and ‘give the kids a chance to play’.

But their fun was cut short when Saxon Weald social housing company - which owns the land on which the five-person tent had been set up - told families it must be removed.

The company said the move had been prompted by phone calls from disgruntled neighbours who described the tent as an ‘eyesore’ and complained of ‘noise level’.

A notice of removal was pinned to the canvas on Thursday July 28, reading: “This structure has been erected on land owned by Saxon Weald without permission.

“Please remove it by Thursday 4 August or we will remove it and dispose of it.”

Mr Iebba, resident for three years, said: “The plan was, keep it up for two days, take it down and put it up again later on in the holiday for the kids.

“But the council came round on the second day of it being up at 5pm, asking if we had permission.

“Of course, we didn’t ask for it because we didn’t know that you needed it, given it’s outside our house and no one uses the ground for anything.

“They said we had had complaints and the kids said, ‘we don’t have to take it down do we?’.

“We have kids in the estate who had never been under canvas, and it was absolutely unbelievable to see all their faces appearing from the tent.

“I don’t want to be a pain for anybody but at the end of the day if they’re all here playing together and not out scratching cars then I don’t see the problem.

“We’re not out here having a party, we’re out here trying to encourage the kids to play together and have a happy holiday.

“The other thing is it’s really safe - they’re literally yards away from our house.

“It’s just such a shame that a very small minority can have such an impact about what goes on in the road.

“It’s an estate - there’s going to be children and there’s going to be older people, but don’t create a divide, stick together.

He added: “All I want to do is give the kids something to do, it’s a summer holiday plan gone wrong.”

The youngsters have since passed round a petition to residents in a bid to keep their haven of fun.

Support was received from 26 people out of the 31 asked.

Dean Tilley, 16, said: “The tent is great - we can all sleep out and have a lot of fun.

“Half of these people we never really spoke to and now we all know each other, so there’s a great community atmosphere.

“There’s not a lot to do without it, and we can’t go round Bennetts Road field because you got all the older kids there and it’s not really safe for us as they’re all drinking and stuff like that.

He added: “If this wasn’t here I would be spending the summer doing nothing and playing on my Xbox.

A spokesperson for Saxon Weald said: “There is not much of a story here - a family has put a large tent on a piece of communal land, which they did not ask permission to do.

“We have had complaints about the tent from two other neighbours and it also poses a grounds maintenance problem for us (mowing grass etc), so we have asked them to remove the tent.

“This seems fair enough given that it should not have been there in the first place.”