ELDERLY residents in Groomsport say they feel like ‘second class’ citizens after continually being denied their £600 energy payments.
While the £600 payments simply dropped into the bank accounts of most of the UK population, ten residents of Seahaven have faced obstacle after obstacle to receive theirs, with one 92 year-old’s application being rejected for a variety of reasons.
The development’s householders have to apply for their £600 payments because they do not receive their electricity through the standard grid, as homeowners in traditional houses and apartments.
Instead, they receive their power from Seahaven operator, Encore Parcs, which purchases energy and supplies it to Seahaven residents, who then pay them.
Alison Coyle, former secretary of the Seahaven Residents Association, said residents are ‘at the end of their tether’, revealing that when people enquire about delays in their payment, they find out they were rejected ‘and are given different reasons every time’.
She said the problem has been compounded by the lack of communication with the department rejecting their claims.
“Our Seahaven residents apply, then phone up to ask if everything is in order, and they are told, yes, it is, but then when they hear nothing for weeks, they ring up again and are told, ‘it’s been rejected’,” she said.
“One said they couldn’t see the date on the rates bill someone submitted, yet they could have contacted them to inform them of this, but didn’t, and just left the resident waiting – and having to apply again.”
She said 10 people are known to still be without their payments but the actual number could be more.
The situation facing resident John Forsythe – who still hasn’t received his payment – illustrates the common hurdles facing Seahaven residents.
Mr Forsythe, a widower in his 80s who has lived at Seahaven for 12 years, said he was told his application would be processed in six weeks.
“I phoned them again, and they said ‘oh yes, it’s been rejected’ and when I asked why they said ‘because no one lives at that address’.
“We all first applied on March 1st and still nothing, and it’s May. At the time all they were asking for was two utility bills not older than three months.
“Then they asked us for more – for proof of residency from Encore Parcs, ID and rates bills,” he said. “They keep putting all these obstacles in our way.”
Mrs Coyle confirmed that in terms of providing proof of residency, officials are now not accepting an email from Encore Parcs to say the residents are homeowners. It must come on their headed notepaper and be handwritten.
Mr Forsythe also highlighted the plight of his elderly neighbour, Shirley Cunningham, who is 92.
Stating that because she is not computer savvy, he has done all her applications for her, he said her application was rejected because, like him, she was said to not live at the Seahaven address and that it was her second residence.
“Then they said it was because they had the wrong email for her and I asked if it was wrong, how did you email her to inform her she was rejected?’
“Then they said she rang them up on April 24 to say she was cancelling her application,” he said.
“They are just making it up as they go along” he declared.
Mrs Coyle said she has appealed to local representatives for help, including North Down MP Stephen Farry.
“All credit to Stephen Farry and his people, who have been trying to help,” she said.