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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 8 April, 2003, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Hermit receives new home
Josef Stawinoga's new tent in Wolverhampton
The old tent posed a health risk
An 83-year-old hermit, who has lived in the middle of a ring road in Wolverhampton for 35 years, has received a new tent.

In an operation involving the army, the police, social services and environmental health, Josef Stawinoga was re-housed on Tuesday.

The Polish war veteran, who lives alone on the central reservation, had to have his tent replaced because it posed a health risk.

Social services and the Territorial Army had to replace the tent as well as clear a lot of rubbish that Mr Stawinoga had collected.

Look after

Juliusz Leonowicz, who worked with Mr Stawinoga at a steel works in Bilston in the 1950s, said before the tent was removed "sparks would fly".

"He doesn't appreciate anyone in uniform," he said.

"He's not going to be happy about his rubbish being cleared either because he believes a lot of this rubbish is in his care.

"He thinks people bring it to him to look after."

Josef Stawinoga
Mr Stawinoga has lived under canvas for 35 years
Although the city council does not normally tolerate squatters, officers have made an exception for Mr Stawinoga due to his phobia of confined spaces, thought to have been caused by his ordeal as a prisoner of war during World War II.

In a statement, the council said: "Mr Stawinoga has lived on the ring road in Wolverhampton for over 30 years and although this is not an ideal situation, it has been accepted as the best option for him.

"We have taken into account his personal history and the fact that whilst located there, he can be visited daily by the city council's meals on wheels service.

"Mr Stawinoga is a very private person and does not like attention from people he does not know.

"The replacement of his tent has been done as quickly and efficiently as practicable so as not to unduly distress or agitate him, so that he can continue to live quietly and peacefully as he chooses."

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