A national charity says that Test Valley Borough Council are the worst local authority in the UK for supporting military veterans.
Help 4 Homeless Veterans has recently been dealing with a case in Andover where a veteran remained homeless for six months, according to the national organisation this is because of the council’s lack of understanding of their own responsibilities.
David Wood the charity’s Legislation Officer told Andover Radio, “We’ve had a number of problems with Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC), in particular because they have refused to get a veteran into accommodation. It’s so bad that after 6 months dealing with TVBC, the veteran is now being housed by Wiltshire Council. Simply because TVBC have not followed the correct legislation.
“I’ve challenged the council on three occasions, initially they told me they do not have a duty to house him. When I visited on a third occasion they decided that they did have an obligation and a duty to assist. It was too late.”
The charity has been operating for over 6 years and in that time has house over 500 military veterans. Mr Wood adds, “We work closely with local authorities and around 60-70% of veterans we house are by working with local authorities. Its a shame TVBC don’t want to work with us.”
This year the organisation received royal recognition when Prince Andrew presented them with the Duke of York Community Initiative Award.
“I have dealt with 49 separate local authorities across the UK and it seems that TVBC are just not prepared to listen to outside organisations. They’ve got this attitude of ‘We’re right, they’re wrong’. They are not prepared to listen.
“I find them totally unsympathetic to our veterans.”
Homelessness is a problem across the UK, some sources claim as many as 13,000 ex-service personnel are living rough. Mr Wood says, “As a charity organisation we are sick and tired of hearing excuses from local councils. Homelessness since 2010 has trebled in this country, we have more people on the streets than we have ever had before.”
“The councils say its a lack of stock, they say it’s a lack of money, councils give all sorts of excuses. We are not interested in excuses, we are interested in getting the job done.
“These people have served their country and were prepared to put their lives on the line. They are now left on the streets of our country and suffer serious mental health and serious other issues and it just seems to be that the legislation is there but it is being abused and it’s just being used how Test Valley want to interpret it.”
In discussing two Andover-related incidents, one of which Andover Radio reported on yesterday afternoon, David Wood says that Test Valley Borough Council will be hearing from him again, “TVBC are well aware of me, I have raised issues on a number of occasions and to me it seems that it’s going in one ear and out the other.
“I am aware of another situation which has just arisen and its just blown me away. TVBC will be coming up against me very shorty. I have done this before; If I have to, I will name and shame them in the national press and on national TV news and make sure that everyone is fully aware of the situation of what TVBC has done to this veteran. They don’t seem to want to listen.
“After they previously admitted they were wrong, they didn’t even send a letter of apology. We had to help this veteran for 6 months while TVBC sat on their hands. Eventually they have admitted they were wrong, but it’s too late.
“TVBC misunderstand their own responsibilities.”
You can hear an edited version of the full interview with Mr Wood on 95.9FM Andover Radio tomorrow morning (19th October 2018).