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Alan wins after council U-turns

PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:56 22 October 2010

Alan Goodchild's two-bedroom council bungalow was no Buckingham Palace, but it was the place where he was born and where he hoped to end his days.

Alan Goodchild's two-bedroom council bungalow was no Buckingham Palace, but it was the place where he was born and where he hoped to end his days.

Instead he was told to leave two days after his father died.

Yesterday, he had packed his bags and was waiting for the removal van - only to be told he could stay after all.

The 41-year-old gardener does not know whether to believe the good news. Last week, the council said he could stay, then rang him three hours later to say it had changed its mind.

Now town councillors are calling a vote of no confidence in Waveney District Council's housing depart-ment, which has been described as “arrogant, incompetent and ignorant”.

Mr Goodchild's three-month struggle, which has driven him nearly to suicide, started after his father Jack, a lollipop man, died in February.

Two days later, a letter arrived ordering the younger man out of the home they had shared.

The council said it could not let him stay because a tenancy could only be transferred once. In fact, it had made a mistake and the tenancy had never been transferred.

While friends and councillors fought to help him, the housing department stood its ground. Just last week, it admitted it had made a mistake and said he could stay - only for an officer to ring three hours later to say the two-bedroom bungalow was too big for one man and he must go.

Mr Goodchild, of Bedingfield Crescent, Halesworth, had already redirected his mail, told the author-ities he was moving and hired a skip to clear out many of his possessions.

Now he is demanding an apology.

He said: “I think Waveney have treated me very badly from day one. My father died on the Sunday and on Tuesday I had a letter saying I had to move out.

“I became suicidal. I couldn't eat, I wasn't sleeping. The doctor put it down to the stress I was having with Waveney. She told me I hadn't had a chance to grieve at all.

“I was afraid I would be on the streets. But what hurt me most is that this has always been our family home.”

Halesworth town council chairman Alan Holzer and councillor Bill Pagan are furious at the way Mr Goodchild has been treated. At their meeting on Monday, Mr Pagan will propose a vote of no confidence in the housing department.

He said: “What has happened is just appalling. Mr Goodchild has been stressed out by what I believe to be a housing department which has acted with arrogance, incompetence and ignorance in the way it handled his case.”

Mr Holzer said: “All he ever wanted from day one was to stay where he was, in his home. I am very, very glad for him that the council has now changed its mind but what has happened is ridiculous.”

David Howson, principal services manager for housing at Waveney District Council, said: “The council understands that there has been a lot of confusion regarding the right to succession in relation to the property and, because of that, Mr Goodchild has clearly suffered considerable anxiety.

“We are extremely sorry that Mr Goodchild has been affected in this way.

“The council's priority is, and always has been, to ensure that Mr Goodchild receives the best service possible and it was our belief that alternative accommodation, more suited to his needs, would be in his best interests.

“But it is now abundantly clear that the best solution would be to allow him to remain where he is.”


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