The Post recently featured the fact that the Bude Canal rescue hero, David Flay was facing eviction as his landlord was selling up.
Despite numerous viewings of flats for rent and asking Cornwall Housing for help he was getting nowhere... and he was worried about becoming homeless, something he’d experienced in the past in Torquay.
Unfortunately the Post has since been contacted by Dave to say that he and the friend — also involved in the canal rescue of disabled girl Jessica Casey — Mo Davies, had indeed been made homeless and ended up having to sleep for a number of nights in a tent.
A reader kindly got in touch offering use of a single room while a pensioner he was caring for was in hospital, but as it had only a single bed Dave felt he couldn’t take it as it didn’t offer a solution for friend Mo’s housing problem.
However, as if things couldn’t get any worse, after three nights their tent was then stolen, and although Mo was then able to sofa-surf with a friend, Dave’s only option left was to sleep in his car. What he has told the Post helps to illustrate the desperate situation some people are facing with regard to accommodation in Cornwall at this present time.
Last week Dave got in touch to say: “I have been doing everything possible and now my ex-wife and close friends have been on the phone to every single person, agency and charity available with no luck. I’ve been in a tent for three nights and now that’s been stolen.”
At that stage the situation was looking increasingly hopeless and he said: “I’ve been on the phone to the doctor today with no call back. The council have told me ‘live under cardboard boxes’ and explained how to make a shelter. It seems because I have no medical, physical or otherwise problems that no-one wants to help.
“I have just messaged the Mayor of Bude, so will see what happens there.”
There was renewed hope when a doctor in Stratton contacted Dave, saying she was absolutely disgusted by the council’s response to his situation. She gave up part of her afternoon so that they could call Cornwall Housing together to try and make some headway in the situation — but despite trying for some time they couldn’t get through to the right people.
There was good news, however, when Dave contacted Cornwall Councillor for Bude Peter La Broy, who then met Dave and together they at last succeeded in getting through to Cornwall Housing officers.
At first the officers maintained that Dave would have to fill out forms that he had already completed with a case officer who had now left the department — but then, thanks to Cllr La Broy, within minutes Dave got the good news that a room was being made available for him at a Premier Inn.
Dave says he is very grateful for this help and the fact that for several nights he has had somewhere warm and comfortable to sleep — however, the use of the room is only until Thursday of this week (February 17) and in the meantime the struggle to find somewhere more permanent continues.
Dave once again viewed a flat this week but the landlord ended up giving it to a couple instead of him.
He also got in touch with the landlord of a flat which was being advertised for a high price and was told the owner would be in touch — but then he heard nothing more and saw the flat was then being advertised for a lower price! He got in touch again to remind the landlord he was interested, but was again given no definite answer. The same flat was then again seen being advertised at a high price and remains empty! He says he knows of other flats lying empty in the town too at a time when there is a desperate need for housing.
Meanwhile the new Cornwall Housing case officer he has been assigned says he has to fill in the same forms that he had already completed for the previous one all over again. While that is going on, even though he has the money to pay a deposit on a flat, landlords and other accommodation providers won’t offer him anything because he is homeless and say he needs a letter of guarantee from the council which the authority won’t give him until he had filled in the forms again and they have been processed.
Dave has been in touch with agencies such as Citizens’ Advice but says he just gets the same answers about needing to contact private accommodation providers and even though the Mayor of Bude Cllr Amanda Tame has tried to help by contacting some of those, he has still had no luck.
Dave is increasingly disheartened by this lack of progress and says it would appear that because he is able-bodied and doesn’t have disabilities no-one in authority seems able to help with a permanent solution.