Elderly residents living in a sheltered housing complex in Preston were left shocked when they were told to remove their religious items to promote ‘diversity’.
But the housing company that manages the properties, Places for People, issued a swift apology today and lifted the ban.
Residents in the 40 flats at St Paul’s Court were sent a letter warning them that religious items had to be removed from communal places, including letter boxes and number plates on doors.
Some residents were left upset by the letter, which also called for volunteers to become ‘equality and diversity’ champions.
The move was criticised by local religious leaders with one warning: “Political correctness is getting silly.”
But a statement from Places for People, issued today, said: “We apologise for any insensitivity and concern this may have caused. It was a local decision not reflective of the group’s national policy.”
It added: “We have written to customers of the scheme that we have withdrawn this action. We have launched an urgent inquiry to see how we have arrived at this situation.”
In a previous statement Places for People had defended the decision, saying: “St Paul’s has a long tradition of embracing and promoting cultural diversity both within the scheme and the local community.
And added: “Following a number of meetings with residents we asked people to remove artefacts from communal areas such as the lounge – this does not affect individuals’ right to display religious artefacts within their own home, or in the immediate vicinity.”
When asked if they intended to change the name of St Paul’s Court, which is named after a local church, Places for People confirmed they had no such plan.
In 2008 a Brighton care home for elderly Christians had thousands of pounds of funding withdrawn by the local council, after it refused to question residents about their sexual orientation every three months.
The care home launched a legal action, backed by The Christian Institute, leading to Brighton Council restoring the £13,000 funding.