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Couple with nine children want Bournemouth council to find them a bigger house
A COUPLE with nine children are desperate to move out of “appalling” and “overcrowded” conditions in their three-bedroom house.
Lee Miller and Natalie Cann want Bournemouth council to help them leave their housing association home in Southbourne for a four or five-bedroom house as they are in “cramped” and damp rooms and have a 10th baby due in March.
Their five boys share a room with three sleeping in the same bed and 13-year-old Ayesha, the oldest sibling, has to share her room with a one and three-year-old.
“This place is too small,” said Natalie, 33.
“I’ve not had this many children purposefully to have a big house.
“We did not plan it.”
The couple had Ayesha, 13, Danny, 12 and Jamie, 10 when they moved into the house in Kingfisher Close eight years ago and Dean, 9, was on the way.
They then had Luke, 7, Leon, 4, Karleigh, 3, Mercedes, 1 and Brooke, 10 months.
Lee, 40, had his jobseekers allowance stopped in September due to not applying for enough jobs as he is trying to start his own car recovery and pick-up business.
He had a full-time job at a garage until he was 17 and worked for around nine months, in 2011.
The couple, who also have a pet python, were on income support and housing benefit until the recent changes to the benefits system and said their money has been cut this year.
They now receive £127 per week in Child Benefit and £482 per week in child tax credits.
This totals £31,668 over a year.
The family also currently receives a discretionary £200 monthly payment towards their housing association rent, though this is expected to end after six weeks. This means they presently pay £253 in rent themselves.
Lee and Natalie pay £30 per month in council tax.
They are having their working tax credits calculated based on Lee planning to work at least 24 hours per week.
“We were overcrowded from the start here,” said Lee.
“I’m objecting to paying towards the rent when we’re living like this.
“I would be happy to pay if we had four bedrooms.
“And I don’t want to be on benefits and claim it all.
“I’m quite happy to work.”
Case has been given ‘gold band’ status
COUNCIL chiefs are making the family a priority.
Kelly Ansell, Bournemouth Borough Council’s strategic housing service project manager, said:
“The family have gold band priority, our highest band, which means that they are in an excellent position on our housing waiting list.
“However, they require larger family accommodation which is in short supply and carries with it a long wait even for those with high priority.
“They are currently being advised by our team with regard to their situation and we will continue to advise and support the family to secure the right accommodation for their needs.”
Cecile Todd, head of Avon and Leasehold for Radian, the housing association which owns the current property, invited the parents to contact them over any problems with the state of the property.
She said: “Radian has a strong record when it comes to responsive repairs and to planned maintenance, and we always investigate any concerns with damp or mould that is reported to us by our tenants.
“Mr Miller and Ms Cann can contact us as they have not yet done so, on 0300 1231567.
“Or they can email radiandirect @radian.co.uk and we will do all that we can to resolve the situation.”
Overcrowding causing difficulties, says letter
SOCIAL services has written to the housing department at Bournemouth council asking for Lee Miller and Natalie Cann’s housing to be re-housed “with some urgency”.
The letter states that “overcrowding in the home is causing the family difficulties” which are “impacting upon the children’s education, health and wellbeing”.
Their midwife has also provided a letter supporting the family’s wish to move, stating how she is “appalled by the cramped conditions and severe overcrowding”.
She said the house has become “highly inappropriate” and is damp with mould that is causing respiratory problems for the children, which requires treatment.
“The overall accommodation is clearly uninhabitable for this family and needs to be dealt with as a matter of urgency,” the letter added.
‘Parents are totally irresponsible’
DAVID Clutterbuck, a former Bournemouth councillor, branded the parents as “irresponsible” for having nine children.
“There’s two ways of looking at this. You can say you are sorry for the children.
“But the other way is to say he has not been working and I don’t think the taxpayers should have to pay.
“I don’t want to upset the children and they should come first but why should the taxpayer have to pay?
“If he doesn’t work it’s just terrible.
“I think it’s completely irresponsible having so many children when they can’t afford it.
“It’s a picture of modern society.”
Council has obligation
KATE Parker, of the Shelter homeless charity on Poole Hill, called on the council to make sure it is “following its obligations”.
She invited Lee Miller and Natalie Cann to contact Shelter for advice and said they need to find out if they should be classified as homeless due to overcrowding.
“The council is helping them in so far as they’ve put them on a gold band,” she said.
“The council is not there to make a moral judgement.
“The council and other organisations are there to make sure they follow what their obligations are to people who are homeless.
“The statutory definition of homelessness includes severe overcrowding.
“If they are homeless because of overcrowding then the council has a responsibility to provide suitable accommodation.”
Shelter can be contacted on 0344 515 1400 or visit shelter.org.uk
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