Row over wrong roof tiles in Pittville descends into chaos with one man arrested and another taken

The rooftiles in question

Residents upset about the tiles pictured in May. Dennis Parsons is in the blue sleeveless sweater

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A meeting over the wrong roof tiles in a Pittville street descended into chaos with one man arrested and another spending the night in hospital.

Residents led by Liberal Democrat activist Dennis Parsons had invited Cheltenhams MP Martin Horwood and Stephen Williams MP, a minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government, to see the controversial roof tiles on a house in Cleevemount Road.

The tiles had recently been put in by the owner of the house, Cheltenham Borough Homes (CBH), and the residents say they are out of keeping with the area.

However, before the two MPs arrived, the tenant at the house in question, 64-year-old Stephen Hagan-Smith — who was unhappy about people gathering outside his home — got into an argument with one of the residents.

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It ended with one neighbour, 79-year-old Dennis Brickwell, allegedly being pushed over.

Mr Hagan-Smith was detained by police officers on the scene, and officers are now investigating an allegation of common assault.

Mr Brickwell was taken to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, where he spent the night as a precautionary measure.

Speaking to the Echo yesterday, he said: Ive bruised my face and hurt my hand and damaged my glasses.

My hip also hurts where I fell down.

Mr Hagan-Smith also spoke to the Echo and said he was sorry for what had happened.

I was arrested and I am now on police bail, he said. Im very sorry about what happened. I am going to write a letter of apology to Mr Brickwell and also offer to pay for the repairs to his glasses.

Both Mr Hagan-Smith and Mr Brickwell agree that the former pushed the latter, but they disagree over the reason.

Mr Hagan-Smith was standing on his driveway and Mr Brickwells partner, Glenda Combe, was talking to him, standing on the public footpath.

Mr Hagan-Smith claims that Mr Brickwell then became confrontational, but Mr Brickwell denies this.

Mrs Combe told the Echo: I was trying to tell him that it wasnt a problem with him, just that the tiles are wrong, and that Cheltenham Borough Homes were in the wrong here and had, in a way, made him the victim, because he couldnt do anything about the roof.

Mr Hagan-Smith told the Echo he was angry with Dennis Parsons, who has led the residents campaign against the tiles.

There have been three letters circulated by Dennis Parsons about my roof, he said. The last one suggested that I was the owner of the house and that I had refused to change the tiles, but its nothing to do with me.

To have people protesting outside, and letters being put through everyones doors, and MPs and ministers coming to look, I feel very picked on.

He added: If you think whats going on in the world, with people being beheaded and the RAF fighting again, and the NHS and schools and immigration and the economy, I think politicians should be spending time on that, not on the tiles on my roof.

Dennis Parsons, who unsuccessfully stood as a Lib Dem candidate for Pittville in the last borough council elections, said it was necessary to bring a minister to the estate of 1930s houses off Prestbury Road.

He said: The issue is that the planning laws allow someone to put tiles on their roof of any sort and as long as it doesnt change the shape or size of the roof then nothing can be done about it.

I wanted him to see the difference, where all the roofs in this estate are all the same, all with 1930s tiles, except for this one, and how it isnt in keeping. And how the law as it is allows that.

Police confirmed that a 64-year-old man was arrested in connection with an investigation into alleged common assault and has been bailed until October 14.

CBH, which manages properties for Cheltenham Borough Council, declined to comment on the matter.

The councils cabinet member for housing, Peter Jeffries, said: The current roof replacement programme being undertaken by CBH across the town is having a beneficial impact for residents by bringing these roofs up to current and future standards.

CBH has previously said that re-tiling roofs with the more modern tiles saves up to £2,000 per property.

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Cheltenham Borough Homes (CBH) started work to replace the tiles on Mr Hagan-Smiths roof in April this year and finished in August.

Mr Hagan-Smith said he told the contractor that the tiles were wrong when they arrived, and that the contractor then called CBH and was told to use the new tiles anyway.

A protest was first organised against the roof tiles by residents and Mr Parsons in May.

CBHomes said that using the tiles was much cheaper, and it could repair more properties using them for the same budget.

Mr Parsons asked Martin Horwood to invite the minister, Stephen Williams, so he could see the issue for himself. Although Mr Williams could not comment on this individual case, and had no power to act because the tiles are allowed in law, Mr Parsons wanted to lobby him to make a change in the law regarding roofs.

Mr Williams, the Lib Dem MP for Bristol West, said that local communities can make changes to the planning rules in their own area using neighbourhood planning regulations which came into force in 2012 and allow communities to develop their own neighbourhood plan.

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