Health fears over cramped home in Sidmouth

A DISTRESSED Sidmouth couple, who live in an over-crowded council house, believe the cramped conditions are affecting the health of their already sick toddler. After being contacted by the Herald, East Devon District Council (EDDC) has vowed to meet up w

A DISTRESSED Sidmouth couple, who live in an over-crowded council house, believe the cramped conditions are affecting the health of their already sick toddler.

After being contacted by the Herald, East Devon District Council (EDDC) has vowed to meet up with Alison and Nick Raw, of High Meadow, to address their plight.

The couple live in a two-bedroom house with their three daughters Philippa, 14, Sophie, 11, and Mya, three.

Mya was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis this year and Alison, 34, who battles with depression, fears her child's health is being made worse because she has to share an over-crowded bedroom with her two sisters.

The full-time mum said: "She wakes up screaming sometimes and when she cries she wakes the other girls up. She is so stiff sometimes she can't even walk to the bathroom.

"The girls have different bedtimes and the older ones wake Mya up, which means she is more tired- the tiredness combined with the pain from her arthritis makes everything ten times worse."

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Their daughter Sophie suffers from kidney reflux and Alison thinks the stress of living in a cramped environment makes it worse.

She also says the pressure of the situation exacerbates her depression and both her and her husband Nick, 30, who works as a night-time care assistant, are at their wits end.

Alison feels East Devon District Council has 'let her down' as she claims it has on three occasions 'lost' her housing transfer information.

She says she filled in a transfer application when she moved into her current address in 1998 but because the council had no record of the application it has only been backdated to 2003.

Alison added: "I've felt like giving up so many times. The council isn't even adhering to its own data protection policies as copies of our marriage and the children's birth certificates have been lost."

The family were told by EDDC they are living in an over-crowded house and are therefore in the urgent Gold Band category as well as medium-priority from a medical point of view.

But Alison says they have made no headway despite their classification and at one point were told they had not moved up the housing waiting list in 18 months.

East Devon MP Hugo Swire has become involved in Alison's fight and she says she is considering formally complaining to the local ombudsman about the council.

She added: "I feel in a state of limbo. There are so many questions which the council needs to answer."

After the Herald contacted EDDC, a spokesman said: "We will be inviting Mrs Raw in to the council offices to discuss her concerns and to see if we can reach agreement on a way forward.

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