‘I’ve been waiting 23 years for council house’, says diabetic pensioner Jimmy

Jimmy Small navigates his way along the B3176. Ref shs 1303-30-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Jimmy Small navigates his way along the B3176. Ref shs 1303-30-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

A pensioner with mobility and health problems – who claims he has been waiting to swap his caravan for a council house for more than 20 years – feels like giving up hope.

Jimmy Small, 73, says he first signed on to East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) housing list aged 50, but now his needs are far greater.

The Sidmothian, who suffers from diabetes and heart problems, feels isolated on the busy Bulverton Road and is seeking a better life – but the authority said he will have to wait.

“There’s people who’ve only been on the list for a few months getting houses – I’ve been on it for 23 years,” said the grandfather-of-two.

“They [EDDC] don’t seem to take any notice. I’m not going to get one now.

“I feel like I’m wasting my time. What good is there me carrying on?”

Mr Small lives on a plot of land off the B3176, occupied by his grandfather and parents before him.

Most Read

There used to be a bungalow but it was demolished in 1991 when its condition worsened.

Mr Small moved into a caravan and his application to build a replacement home was approved in 1993 – but when he resubmitted the plans in 2003, they were refused because of the impact on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Mr Small now suffers from health complaints and thinks a move to the seaside would do him good.

“I’ve lived here all my life, but I can’t keep living in a caravan like this,” added the father-of-four, who needs a mobility scooter or crutches to get around.

An EDDC spokeswoman said that although the authority learned of Mr Small’s situation in 1996, its records showed he first applied for housing in 2001.

She said that, in 2004, he was told to look in the private sector as he did not qualify for a council house. When he was offered a property in Newton Poppleford in 2006 he declined as it was not in Seaton, said the spokeswoman.

She added that Mr Small’s application was reassessed in 2014 to reflect his mobility needs and he therefore has a good chance of being offered accommodation – even more so if he were to consider more areas of East Devon.

“He has been advised before that being specific to a bungalow in Seaton or East Budleigh means that it will take longer for him to be housed through Devon Home Choice,” added the spokeswoman.