Council defend

A LOCAL authority yesterday hit back at claims it was heartless after telling a tenant he must quit his north Suffolk home just days after the death of his elderly mother.

By David Lennard

A LOCAL authority yesterday hit back at claims it was heartless after telling a tenant he must quit his north Suffolk home just days after the death of his elderly mother.

Colin Pope, of Tedder Road, Lowestoft, was still mourning the death of his 83-year-old mother Hazel when Waveney District Council told him he had no legal right to the property and would be evicted shortly after Christmas.

Mr Pope was given the news when he went to pay the rent five days after his mother's death.


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He was told that because his mother had taken on the tenancy from his father, the law would not allow a further transfer of the tenancy, meaning he must be evicted.

“My mother's death hit me awfully hard and this has just added to the stress,” Mr Pope said.

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“I told them this would leave me homeless but they don't seem to care. I don't know what I'll do.”

His case has been taken up by Waveney MP Bob Blizzard, who has called on the council to reconsider its decision.

The Labour MP said he had previously taken up a similar case on behalf of another constituent and received a letter from Housing Minister Keith Hill which confirmed that councils do have discretion to allow people like Mr Pope to remain in their home in such a situation.

“In the light of this information I believe that the action taken by the council is both heartless and unnecessary,” said Mr Blizzard.

“I have written to the council asking them to reconsider their actions and allow Mr Pope to remain in his home. Bereavement is difficult to cope with. Eviction on top of that would be monstrous.”

A spokesman for Waveney District Council said the succession to a tenancy on the death of a tenant is closely governed by the 1985 Housing Act, which only allows a succession to happen once.

He added: “This was a deliberate policy of the Government of the time otherwise councils would eventually have no control over who inherited a property.

“Those on the waiting list would have even longer to wait. There is no provision in the 1985 Act that allows the council to disregard these succession rules.”

The council also point out that there are homeless households in the district and those on the waiting list whose needs would be much more closely matched to this particular three-bedroom property.

The spokesman added: “All through this unhappy matter the council's housing officers have advised Mr Pope to contact its homeless unit in order that his needs can be quickly assessed as required by the Homeless Act 2002.

“The council is saddened that it is having to conduct this dialogue through the good offices of the media rather than direct with Mr Pope, as it feels this can only add to his distress at this time.”

He added that the council would do all within its powers to assist Mr Pope through the difficult situation.

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