'Desperate' couple 'not in priority need'

A HOMELESS Exmouth butcher and his disabled wife staying in emergency accommodation have accused district council housing chiefs of discriminating against them - and turning them out onto the street.

A HOMELESS Exmouth butcher and his disabled wife staying in emergency accommodation have accused district council housing chiefs of discriminating against them - and turning them out onto the street.Peter Flanders, 59, a butcher by trade and the former owner of the burger bar in the Dinan Way Trading Estate, and his wife Marylyn, 54, have been told to leave Blenheim House in Morton Road by March 23.Mr Flanders - he says he has had four heart attacks - and his wife moved to Murciain Spain just under five years ago, after living in Exmouth for 20 years, on the advice of her consultant.The move followed an operation to fuse her spine that went wrong, leaving her unable to walk without a stick.Her doctor said she needed warmer weather to recover, but when they returned a few months ago, they had nowhere to go."We are down to our last �20," said Peter. "We are desperate. We were told we were not a priority because she isn't disabled."But she is epileptic and can't get around without a walking stick; I am my wife's carer."She has been crying, really worried about what is going to happen to us. We have been treated disgracefully. They are kicking us out on the street; we have nowhere to go."I'm angry and feel we have been discriminated against."A spokesperson for East Devon District Council said: "Mr and Mrs Flanders approached EDDC as homeless, having returned from living in Spain, and we placed them in temporary accommodation whilst we investigated their case, pending a decision. "The decision was that they were not in priority need. They appealed against that decision and our housing needs manager carried out a review, meeting with Mr and Mrs Flanders on 16 February to discuss their homeless situation. "The housing needs manager did not believe their health or mental health issues were of a level that made them vulnerable under the Housing Act 1996, and upheld the council's decision that they were not in priority need. They were given a further 28 days in council accommodation to find alternative housing for themselves."We regret we are unable to help Mr and Mrs Flanders, but with 4,381 applicants currently on our housing waiting list, we have to prioritise to ensure that the most vulnerable amongst them receive support.


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