Ipswich: Stroke victim’s housing anger over preferential treatment for family of 12
Council officials agreed to knock two houses into one for a family of 12 – but won’t spend money on providing shower facilities for a disabled stroke victim.
That’s the accusation from a young family, who claim Ipswich Borough Council has denied them urgent housing alterations.
The Cannell family say the council refused to make essential changes to their home after 34-year-old dad Robbie was struck down by a serious stroke in January.
Pregnant mother-of-four Toni is angry their request to provide her husband with a wet-room was deemed too expensive.
In contrast, they say the authority agreed to knock two Maidenhall council homes into one for Tim Fisk, 44 and his pregnant partner Mandy Ball, 41, to help make room for their 10 children – as exclusively revealed in the Star last week.
“I think it’s an absolute joke,” Mrs Cannell said.
“They chose to have all those kids, but my husband who’s worked all his life and paid taxes can’t even get the wet room he needs.”
Robbie, who used to work as a taxi driver, was given 48 hours to live when he suffered a major stroke in January.
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After six months in rehabilitation he returned to the family’s three-bedroom home on Clapgate Lane in July but is confined by his disability to the ground floor living room, away from any washing facilities.
His aunt, Susan Wade, is also angry with the council for giving preferential treatment to the family of 12 over her nephew.
“My nephew can’t even get a wet-room but they are getting two houses into one - where’s the fairness in that?” she asked.
News that IBC was to spend £6,000 to join Mr Fisk’s council house with its neighbouring property sparked anger among many people.
The town’s MP Ben Gummer, who spoke out against the move, says he has met many people across Ipswich who are “enraged by the unfairness of the benefits system”.
“It is wrong that some people appear to receive so much for doing so little when others who are in need don’t get what they should to live with dignity,” he said.
“That’s precisely why we are trying very hard to reform the benefits system.
“The leadership of the borough council has opposed that at every step of the way but I’m determined to press on, as is this government.
“We brought in the welfare cap and I think there’s a strong argument to make that cap lower than it is, especially for places outside London.”
Mr Gummer added that the discretional funds the Government has made available for councils were there to ensure that disabled people like Robbie and his family were not adversely affected in their housing needs.
An IBC Spokesman said: “We have spoken to the family today and assured them that we will arrange a full occupational therapy report to assess the family’s current and future needs and how best to meet them.”
Mr Fisk told the Star last week he has “worked all his life” but was forced to give up security guard employment in Clacton-on-Sea three years ago to care for his partner who requires round-the-clock care.
He also disclosed he had to become a full-time carer to his 14-year-old son Daniel, who is blind in one eye and has serious learning difficulties.
He argued he was therefore entitled to the extra space to raise his family, saying: “I think it is disgusting that people who don’t know us judge us and say we don’t deserve this new house – but we do deserve it.
“We were actually told we would have a bigger house when we moved in before the council suggested knocking the other one through when it became available.
“It’s our human right how many children we have.”