Surrey towns have always been known for being a bit lacklustre, but one is taking on the distinction of being heartless as well.
In an act that would’ve made Jerry and Margo proud, more than 100 residents of Ashtead, near Epsom, have objected to a request by the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) for planning permission to convert a local property into a six-bedroom guest house. The house would be used by relatives of servicemen injured in Iraq and Afghanistan who are being treated at nearby military rehabilitation centre Headley Court.
Reasons for the objections range from increased noise and traffic to the proposed wheelchair ramp taking away from the “unique charm” of the neighbourhood. Well known blogger Dr John Crippen (NHS Blog Doctor) has written a scathing attack on the residents and published the original letters of objection for all to see here.
SSAFA spokesman Athol Hendry said:
"We were genuinely taken aback and hugely disappointed by the amount of hostility. It has been proven that having family support is an important part of the healing process, and there is a huge need for a facility such as this.
"The objectors clearly don't understand what it feels like to have your life changed in a second by a bomb blowing up in Basra."
Outraged campaigners fighting to quash the objections added a bit of cheekiness to this saga when they put Ashtead’s self-respect up for sale on eBay. Though the auction was taken down, the town’s ethics were snatched up for the low, low price of £48, including VAT. No word on whether that includes postage.
Suburban snobbery is an ugly disease and one that we’ve all encountered at some time or another but this may take the Victoria sponge cake.
Image courtesy of _saturnine's Flickstream