Seniors village turmoil

07NEWS SeniorsA BROKEN garden tool sparked a feud between tenants at Fremantle’s Tapper Street Mews retirement village in White Gum Valley.

The ugly spat has escalated into a six-year dispute involving police, council rangers and the courts, which have issued violence restraining orders to keep the senior citizens apart.

The village consists of 11 single-bedroom units owned by Fremantle city council. Managed by Village Support, the village is open to residents aged over 55 and capable of looking after themselves.

Retired North Fremantle upholsterer Alf Davies, 71, moved in six years ago, having bought his 30-year “lease for life” for $90,000.

But a year after moving in, his quiet retirement was shattered by a new resident he says he’d initially tried to help: “I lent her my garden tools, she was doing her gardening. She returned one of the tools damaged but denied doing it.”

After that, relations deteriorated.

Flicking through photographs and video of damaged property, bleach spilled over his car, broken glass and twisted taps outside his unit, he recounts a tale of suburban sufferance.

He’s spent $9000 seeking the woman’s eviction and has installed security cameras and had a second violence restraining order reinstated. He blames the council for the dispute dragging on.

Jean Williams, 90, who has lived at the village 18 years, is firmly on Mr Davies’ side: “We never had any trouble until she moved in,” she says.

“It’s not a pleasant situation.”

Village managers offered to relocate Mr Davies, which he refused, and the council has since declared the feud to be a personal dispute that is not serious enough to warrant eviction. Under conditions of occupancy, residents must “do nothing to interfere with the quiet enjoyment of other residents”.

Other complaints include damaged security lights, plants and vehicles.

Even neighbours to the village have asked the council to intervene. Three years ago a Yalgoo Avenue resident reported, “at 6am today, not for the first time, we were all rudely awakened by the shouting, ranting and raving of one of the residents”. “These are all genteel elderly people who are terrified to come out of their homes.”

The woman at the centre of the dispute could not be contacted for comment. The council would only say, “it does not comment on the cases of individual tenants”.

by CARMELO AMALFI

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