Ottery family’s wait for new house ‘threatens to tear family apart’

Mr and Mrs Knight and their children

Mr and Mrs Knight and their children - Credit: Archant

A family forced to make 24-mile school run trips for their youngsters’ education because of council red tape is desperate to be re-homed in Exmouth.

Ed Knight, his wife Caz, aged 36, and their five children live in temporary council accommodation in Ottery St Mary and must stay put until a five-bedroom council house becomes available in Exmouth.

The couple said their marriage is at breaking point; the family is on the brink of being torn apart. Their twice-daily school run fuel bill to Exmouth is between £75 and £100 a week.

Mr Knight, who grew up in Exmouth, said: “Our marriage is stretched to its capacity, we can do no more.

“Sadly, all of this has resulted in my wife of only nine months now looking for somewhere in Exmouth to live that is suitable for herself and three of the children, while I stay in Ottery to hopefully get the five-bed house we could wait years for.”

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Mr Knight claims he must accept the smaller property or face homelessness; council rules mean he cannot apply to move to Exmouth until a five-bedroom home is available.

The unemployed couple, their two disabled boys, aged 10 and 15, and three daughters, aged 13, nine and four, were re-homed 12 miles away in Winters Lane, Ottery St Mary, by the district council when they were evicted from a property in Exmouth when their landlord sold up.

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“East Devon District Council told us that if we were to refuse the property in Ottery we would be off their housing list and that if we refuse it they would call social services as we would be making ourselves purposely homeless,” Mr Knight said. “We accepted the property against our own better judgement. We were told we could appeal the decision.

“Winning the appeal, EDDC told us we are only allowed to bid on a five-bedroom property or four bedrooms with a separate dining room; winning our appeal, the Ottery house became temporary accommodation so we are not allowed a mutual exchange.

“There are very few houses of this size in the East Devon area, let alone Exmouth.”

EDDC said temporary accommodation has been provided due to the family’s need for a bigger property, which they are waiting to become available.

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