A mum-of-five claims a “cliquey” residents association has divided her street and hit back at claims tenants in shared houses are turning the cul-de-sac into a slum.
Malm Street off Boulevard in west Hull has become shrouded in controversy after long-term residents accused houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) of tarnishing the family-friendly spirit of the street.
The group, which has formed a residents association to protest against HMOs, say rowdy house parties and drug-taking are turning the street into a “slum”.
However, not everyone shares their strong views, and one homeowner has gone as far to say that they are creating unnecessary friction down the street thanks to their campaign.
Catherine McNamara, who has lived on the street for four years, labelled their crusade against HMOs as “terrible” and said she has unsuccessfully tried to reason with members of the residents’ association.
‘They’re an intimidating clique’
The 41-year-old said: “They have always got a campaign against somebody in the street and they are like a little clique.
“We have had one HMO that did cause problems because they had a few big parties in the street and that was two years ago. That wasn’t down to it being a HMO – it was just inconsiderate young people.
“I find it intimidating what they’re doing and I’ve spoken to them about what is happening.
‘Their campaign upsets me’
Two members of the group who have spoken out about the perceived rowdy nature of the street are Colin Feve and Lynn Smith, who is chairwoman of the residents’ association. Mrs Smith, 64, who has lived on the street for more than half her life, said she has spotted boisterous residents swig vodka in the street and take cannabis openly.
Mr Feve, 55, has expressed similar concerns and says he was forced to take time off sick from work after fatigue from lack of sleep led to him becoming depressed.
The pair claim the influx of HMOs has directly impacted the street’s close knit community spirit. However, Mrs McNamara says the street is more divided than united because of the group’s campaign against HMOs.
“It’s not a community – it’s horrible, and what they are doing is upsetting me,” Mrs McNamara said. “They are preaching to the converted and they have got their little group and those signs have been up for ages which has caused more people to jump on the bandwagon.”
‘The campaign is putting off families’
The concerned mum has said the “hostility” in the street has made her want to move and she has looked at putting her house on the market. However, she says the campaign against HMOs has made it harder than ever to sell because families do not want to move to the street.
“We have been tempted to move and we’ve had estate agents round here already. But the signs put people off and the only people who will want to buy houses are more landlords.
“They are highlighting the hostility down the street and families don’t want that. All they are doing is embellishing the bad points and their campaign has gone completely the wrong way.”
What the residents’ association says
Mr Feve, who also complained about lack of sleep from raucous parties and the smell of cannabis causing migraines, said Mrs McNamara was given the opportunity to join the residents’ association. She decided not to accept this invitation but according to the dad-of-four her decision is not held against her.
He said: “She chose to segregate herself. I’ve offered to talk to her and she seems to think we hate HMOs but we don’t hate them – we just don’t want too many.
“A lot of people are getting confused about what the actual issue is. It’s not about HMOs as such, it’s just unfortunate that they have been causing problems, such as lack of parking.
“One HMO down our street has 11 people in it and they’ve got several vehicles parked down the street when there is only space for 49 cars. The HMOs are flouting the rules but some can’t see that.
“There is no segregation. If somebody chooses to separate themselves then that is entirely up to them. Everybody has got their own opinion.
“I can’t see how we are intimidating because the notices are not saying ‘HMOs get out’ or ‘we don’t you here’ but it’s just saying ‘no more.’
“We don’t want anymore and I wouldn’t class that as being intimidating.”
Mrs Smith claims Mrs McNamara signed a petition against parking problems in Malm Street and said she does know the horror of what it is like to live directly next to loud HMOs.
“Colin has lived next to one and so did I for a couple of years and it was horrendous so people who live next to them know what it is like,” she said. “We are not against her but for this little street we just don’t want any more HMOs. We have got them down this street, we have Rosedale Mansions and we have flats too.
“We feel they should be more spread out and it’s the same down Boulevard.”