Council told house was not suitable for tenant
THE chief executive of Carmarthenshire Council says he disagrees with an ombudsman report that found the authority at fault over a housing complaint.
It relates to a family which moved into a council house from bed and breakfast accommodation in 2008.
One resident, known only as Mr M, was in a wheelchair but the house did not have an access ramp.
The ombudsman found that the property was unsuitable for his needs and that the council had failed to undertake adaptations over a period of three years.
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Speaking at a meeting of the full council last Wednesday, council chief executive Mark James said: "We do occasionally take objection to what the ombudsman says. In this case, we should have left them in the B&B because then we would not be criticised.
"Having seen this report, my advice to officers is don't give them a house."
The report revealed that a ramp could not be built outside Mr M's new house because of the gradient of the land.
Councillor Tegwen Devichand, who has responsibility for housing, said: "This is a matter that dates back to 2008 and long before I took responsibility.
"Following discussions with officers, I am confident we have learned from our mistakes and I am confident this kind of thing can not happen again."
Councillor Bill Thomas disagreed, saying he knew of a similar incident that was still on-going.
"I've been called out to a number of cases," he said.
"Unfortunately one is similar to this.
"It involves an elderly man.
"He has since been admitted to hospital and can't come out of hospital because his house is not suitable."
Robin Staines, the council's head of housing services, said: "All the issues raised by the ombudsman have been resolved.
"We have completely different procedures and processes in place."
Councillor Winston Lemon added: "There are certain staff members who like to think that if you refuse [a house], you will go to the bottom of the housing list.
"I think people should be listened to.
"They should not have to be forced to take the first offer they get because sometimes they will take the wrong property."
Councillor Glynog Davies said: "I know of a couple who asked for a ramp to use a mobility scooter."
He said they were told it was not possible to build a ramp and they were instead offered a property in Llanybydder.
"That simply isn't good enough," he said.
"They've lived in this house for 43 years and he is disabled."
He said the attitude of the council officer dealing with the query had been dismissive.
"The lady rang me and said: 'listen, forget about it. I am fed up of it'.
"No one wants to help, he's confined to his own home."
Mrs Devichand said she would look into the matter personally.
The chief executive, Mr James, said councillors should not talk about individual matters in the full council meeting.
"Otherwise we will be here all night," he said.
"This comes up time and time again.
"If it's a local ward issue, it needs to be made outside of this chamber."