Flintshire Council vows to help soldier who fears being homeless

Reporter:

Lois Hough

FLINTSHIRE Council has pledged to help a soldier who feared he would have to live on the streets when he leaves the army.

Craig Smith, 23, from Connah’s Quay, was told he would be at the bottom of the social housing register when he resigns from the Royal Engineers in October.

But Flintshire Council has now vowed to review its policy towards soldiers after the Leader published Mr Smith’s story last week.

Connah’s Quay councillor Bernie Attridge told a community and housing overview and scrutiny committee: “People have given their lives in Afghanistan.

“I personally feel that anyone who is leaving the armed forces should be given as much help as possible.

“I am urging the council to look at his case as a matter of urgency.”

Chairman Cllr Ron Hampson added: “When people come out of prison they go to the top of the list but people coming out of the armed forces are overlooked.”

Flintshire Council operates a points system to reflect “housing need”, which considers factors such as health and overcrowding.

It has now pledged a fresh look at the system with a view to awarding extra points to soldiers.

Clare Budden, head of housing, told the meeting: “We are trying to make some changes to the housing allocation system.

“Unfortunately we don’t have much single person accommodation but we will do what we can to support this young man.

“We were unaware of this gentleman’s specific circumstances and would urge him to contact our housing options team so we can carry out a full assessment of his
needs.”

Craig, a former John Summer's High School pupil, joined the army aged 17 and has served in Afghanistan. He says he is unable to afford to rent or buy a house.

His mother Jacqueline, who has no room for her son at home, is thrilled Craig is now getting full support.

She told the Leader: “I’m happy they are doing something about it now. I want this not only for Craig but for all of the other soldiers that are coming out of the army.

“Hopefully Craig will be able to get a job and get himself on his feet but I am glad they are willing to support him until then.”

This issue has prompted mixed reaction on the Leader website.

‘Roland Cleth’ wrote: “His choice to sign up and his choice to leave. He has no more moral claim for priority housing than a nurse, doctor or firefighter.”

But ‘bur9443’ wrote: “This kid served his country but that means nothing to you. I remember leaving the forces and it’s really hard.

“You leave a dangerous environment and it takes time to get back into civil life.”

See full story in the Leader

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