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Family 'let down' in move bid

PUBLISHED: 17:34 03 July 2008 | UPDATED: 11:20 03 July 2010

A GORLESTON family say they feel let down by the borough council after being in limbo for almost three years in the hope of getting an assisted move.

Norma Andrews, of Trafalgar Road West, says her terrace home is a potential death trap for her husband Frank and two sons Steve and Paul who suffer from muscular dystrophy, an incurable condition which limits their mobility.

A GORLESTON family say they feel let down by the borough council after being in limbo for almost three years in the hope of getting an assisted move.

Norma Andrews, of Trafalgar Road West, says her terrace home is a potential death trap for her husband Frank and two sons Steve and Paul who suffer from muscular dystrophy, an incurable condition which limits their mobility.

However, while the retired couple own their property they cannot afford to move to a more suitable home such as a bungalow because it would be way out of their reach.

The disease means that Steve, 45, and Paul, 37, have been forced to give up work and now live off incapacity benefit. Mrs Andrews is the sole carer for her husband and sons who cannot look after themselves.

Her sons have had several falls in the house and even down the stairs - with Steve suffering a nasty cut on his back on one occasion.

In 2006, Mrs Andrews approached social services to see if the family could have a stairlift.

She said: “They told me the stairs were too narrow and that the house was not suitable for alterations. They suggested an assisted move.”

Ever since, the family has been in limbo waiting for a decision from the council and in May they got their answer.

“The council phoned and said they could not help us,” said Mrs Andrews. “I feel completely ignored. My husband and I are retired and we can't afford to have a mortgage but we can't afford to sell our home and move.”

She added: “I just don't know where to turn to. We can't be split up as a family because I care for all three. They can't cook or shop for themselves.”

In a statement the borough council said it could not comment on individual cases but assured the Andrews family, and others in a similar position, that the utmost was being done to respond to their needs.

The council said when a case such as this occurs it would contact housing associations to look at the possibility of shared-ownership but at the moment there is a lack of suitable properties in the Yarmouth area.

While the family have been put in touch with the My Safe Home organisation, which supports families in their position, Mrs Andrews says they have been unable to help her.

The council's private sector community housing service manager, Alan Warnes, said: “Regrettably, the list of residents needing specialist property is growing. It is taking at least 18 months to look at many cases.

“The council has a limited number of three-bed bungalows which would be suitable. All are currently tenanted, and there are applicants on the housing register with an equal priority, should they become vacant.

“Alternatives, such as applying for a grant from the housing corporation is a lengthy process which would not yield enough money to cover the costs. It has been suggested that the family applies for a property through HomeSelect, but as I have already stated, the stock is limited.”

The seven local authorities in Norfolk together with Waveney District Council have joined forces in a bid for funding from the East of England Regional Assembly's regional housing pot to develop an equity loan scheme.

The bid is being led by Yarmouth Borough Council and if successful could provide help to home owners who need to relocate because their current home is not suitable to meet their needs.

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