Couple in one-bedroom flat with three children told ‘stop having kids’

Shirley Purton, 24, and her partner Luke Lumbard, 31, with their daughters. Photo: Shirley Purton

Shirley Purton, 24, and her partner Luke Lumbard, 31, with their daughters. Photo: Shirley Purton - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk woman living in a one-bed flat with three children says her partner was told “stop having kids” by a housing agency.

Shirley Purton, 24, is living in a one-bedroom property in Thetford with her partner and daughters - aged two, one and four months.

The family have been trying to move into a bigger council house for some time, and Miss Purton claimed when her partner, Luke Lumbard, spoke to a Havebury Housing employee, who own their current property, about relocating, he was told to “stop having kids”.

She said: “He was told ‘you’re looking at staying in that house for another year’ and to ‘stop having kids’. I feel like that’s not any of their business.

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“We haven’t got a back garden - where we are there’s a main road when you come out of the alleyway. All the other houses have got gardens and that’s all I want, a garden so the girls can go and play out.”

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She added: “We’ve been waiting for the council to put houses on [to bid for]. Every time we look there’s nothing.

“They said to us to go private but my worry with that is they can kick you out whenever.

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“I’m so stuck - there’s no space to move or play or anything.

“We’re in a one-bedroom flat. It’s not just sleeping, it’s storage.”

And Chris Harvey, district councillor for Thetford Burrell, said: “There is an issue with housing in Breckland as we know.

“We haven’t got enough one or two-bedroom houses.”

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He added: “We’re trying to support this family however we can. It’s a difficult situation because no one is moving due to Covid-19.”

A Breckland Council spokesperson said: “We have limited availability of homes at the moment due to the Covid-19 pandemic reducing properties coming onto the market. We have been contact with this couple concerning their application, and like all residents on the housing register, supporting them to find appropriate homes either through our housing schemes or to go through private lettings. We ask residents to keep checking on our housing site for new properties.”

A Havebury Housing spokesman said: “We are investigating this matter in line with our complaints process. If a member of our team has said something inappropriate, we offer our sincere apologies to the family concerned.

“We work hard to ensure our customer-facing teams operate professionally and courteously at all times and we will act appropriately if we find our high standards have not been met.

“We will liaise directly with the family to resolve any dissatisfaction of service.”

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