Disabled man tells of ‘impossible’ 17-year battle to swap DOWNSIZE council home and live near family in Milton Keynes
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He and his wife Wendy spent 20 years here from the 1970s and watched the new city being built around them.
They moved counties to the roomier housing association house with a large garden but his wife sadly died in “2002, when his children were still young. As they grew up and left home, James was left with unused bedrooms and a garden that was much too large for him to maintain.
"My daughter was living in MK and I decided 17 years ago that I wanted to move back there into a smaller place, ideally a one bedroom ground floor flat,” he said.
But what seemed a simple plan proved impossible, said James.
"I’ve spent 17 years trying to move. I’ve tried to swap my house through different mutual exchange programmes but in all those years I’ve never had anyone with a firm interest.
"I thought it was because nobody in MK want to swap a small flat for a big house in a village near Daventry. But then I heard that there are overcrowded families living in one bedroom places and they’d love a bigger house,” he said.
James believes there there is not enough collaboration between councils and housing associations all over the UK for people wanting to swap homes.
He says neither Milton Keynes or Northants councils have been helpful.
"Years ago I was on the waiting list for a council house in MK. But then they said I’d been taken off it – because they didn’t have a list any more. That’s when I decided to try and house swap.”
He has tried complaining to the Ombudsman and even the Equality and Human Rights Commission, to no avail.
This week James was finally given a glimmer of hope when his own landlord, Bromford Housing, revealed one of their properties – a two bedroom bungalow – had become vacant in Towcester.
"It’s not MK but it’s close. I’m keeping my fingers crossed,” he said.