Soldier: council is ignoring us

A SOLDIER who risked his life in Iraq and wants to return home to Exmouth after being medically discharged, has accused the district council's housing department of 'ignoring him'.

A SOLDIER who risked his life in Iraq and wants to return home to Exmouth after being medically discharged, has accused the district council's housing department of 'ignoring him'.Former Community College student Lance Cpl Paul Baker, 25, wants to return to Exmouth where he married his wife and where his family live.He, his wife Michelle and 14-month-old son Owen, are currently living in army barracks in Wiltshire.He had until May 1 before being evicted - but following an article in the Journal the Royal British Legion secured him more time.But despite being on the district council's Gold Band priority list he says he has not been contacted since an initial call three weeks ago.He said: "I call and they always say that they will get a senior officer to ring me back, but they never do."If they could call at least once a week it would help but I haven't heard a thing since the day after the article in the Exmouth Journal."He said they promised to email him last Thursday - but says he hasn't received it: "I feel ignored, that they don't want us."I'm upset but it's affecting my wife more, she has been distraught. We are really worried. "We feel they are doing it on purpose."He added that the Royal British Legion have been 'a great help' and thanked Journal readers for their 'kind' letters of support."I thought I was a one-man band and nobody cared," he said. "It's great to see the support the armed forces have in Exmouth."A spokesman for East Devon District Council said: "...our officers have responded to every message that has been left for them by Mr Baker."Council-owned homes in East Devon which become vacant are advertised and people on our waiting list may bid for any of the properties on offer. "With 700 people in our priority band, there is great demand for these properties. Mr Baker and his family are entitled to bid for them but, as newcomers to the list, are unlikely to be housed in the very near future. "Our officers have explained the position to Mr Baker and suggested that he finds a property of his choice in the private sector. We have offered to help him with a deposit and rental advance but so far this offer has not been taken up."Mr Baker and his family will not be homeless in ten days. His notice from the Ministry of Defence runs out in ten days but the MOD will allow him to stay for an extended period whilst he secures alternative accommodation.


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