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Desperate Herne Bay family living in garden shed as they wait for council house

A mum desperate to get a council house is living in a garden shed with her three children.

The woman has resorted to the extreme measure as she looks to secure a new home from Canterbury City Council.

News of the family’s shocking situation emerged as a councillor gave an impassioned speech about the shortage of social housing in the Canterbury district.

The mother and three children are living in a garden shed. Stock picture

The mother and three children are living in a garden shed. Stock picture

Cllr Peter Vickery-Jones, who represents Herne and Broomfield, says he has attempted to help the family-of-four, whose situation has caused him a “great deal of concern”.

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s executive committee, he said: “On three occasions in my ward recently I’ve had to try to help people in need of homes.

“Two of them I was able to help and the other I could not help with in any way.

“We simply do not have the housing stock to help them. I sit here in comfort and there are people crying out for help” – Cllr Vickery-Jones

“It was a mother and three children living in a garden shed, and that’s caused me personally a great deal of concern.

“We simply do not have the housing stock to help them. I sit here in comfort and there are people crying out for help.”

Herne Bay councillor Joe Howes, the portfolio holder for housing, says the family has turned down the offer of a deposit for a privately-rented home.

He says it is a measure often used by the authority to encourage those looking for a council house into the private rental sector.

“If that’s not appropriate they will sometimes end up in a hostel or bed and breakfasts,” he explained.

“We’ve had some people that have been in a hostel for a long period of time because they want a home in a specific place for specific needs. But this is the choice people are making.

Cllr Peter Vickery-Jones reported the family's plight. Picture Barry Goodwin

Cllr Peter Vickery-Jones reported the family’s plight. Picture: Barry Goodwin

“The family Cllr Vickery-Jones is talking about have gone through that process.

“They have the offer of a deposit on the table, so my advice to many people is to look in the private rental sector.

“We have 1,800 people on the housing needs register, so people have got to start looking at private rental.

“Last week we had a three-bedroom house and 50 people bid on it, so we had 49 disappointed families” – Cllr Joe Howes

“If they’re not able to they need to be very careful with their bid. They can’t say they’re only going to bid on three-bedroom houses in Herne Bay.

“Last week we had a three-bedroom house and 50 people bid on it, so we had 49 disappointed families.”

Cllr Vickery-Jones suggests using a £7 million pot – the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) – to build more sheltered accommodation to entice people out of larger council homes that are too big for them.

He said: “We can’t require these people move out to make way for families, because that would be unfair.

“But we can build more attractive options for them to encourage them to move out.

“That could free up the limited housing stock we do have.”

Canterbury city council leader John Gilbey

Canterbury city council leader John Gilbey

But council leader John Gilbey questioned where they would build the new homes.

He said: “We can use the HRA account to buy ground, but where?

“Where are you going to find some ground to build houses for people? Tell us. You find it, we’ll look at buying it.

“We can do that, if there is space and if there is a way of doing it, so it’s not that we’re just ignoring this.”

The city council refused to comment on the family’s situation, saying it could not “provide personal information to protect the confidentiality of the individuals involved”.

 

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