Wrexham councillor Keith Gregory has been refused the tenancy on his own home following a widely publicised dispute with Wrexham council. In a letter received on Friday 29th November, Head of Housing Andy Lewis states: “I can confirm that your tenancy of 13 Colwyn Road has come to an end and the decision has been made not to grant you a new tenancy at that property”. No explanation as to why this decision was made was included with the letter.
Cllr Gregory has reported Wrexham council to the Ombudsman for maladministration and accuses the council of discriminating against him. The complaint concerns the handling of his housing case by the council after a split with his former partner.
The dispute began in October when Cllr Gregory received a hand delivered letter from the council informing him that his tenancy had ended. The letter stated he would now be classed as a ‘tolerated trespasser’ at his home in the Smithfield ward, where he is also the county councillor.
Mr Gregory and his former partner state that the council never informed either of them that by taking her name off the tenancy, she would also be ending Cllr Gregory’s part of the tenancy as well, a point already conceded by the council.
Both state that in fact they were advised on 3 separate occasions by the council that Mr Gregory’s former partner would be allocated another property and that Cllr Gregory could remain at Colwyn Road. The 3 bedroom property has been specifically adapted for Cllr Gregory who is registered disabled and suffers from spina bifida, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and arthritis.
The council have spent over £7,000 adapting the property to date, a cost that would have to be replicated if they were to move Cllr Gregory somewhere else. In addition, the cost of removing the adaptations from Colwyn road could lead to a total bill of about £20,000. Given the reassurances from the council and the fact that the property was adapted for Cllr Gregory’s needs, the letter received back in October stating he was no longer a tenant and was being classed as a tolerated trespasser came as a big shock.
Regarding the latest news and the final decision not to give him the tenancy, Cllr Gregory said:
“On the same day as receiving the decision about my tenancy, I also obtained information from an FOI request which I feel clearly shows I am being discriminated against. Of 78 cases over the last two years where one former joint tenant has requested a sole tenancy from the council, every single one has been granted that tenancy. It seems I am the only tenant in Wrexham to be treated in this way.”
“Additionally, a process that should have taken 4 weeks has taken 15 weeks and I do not believe the council has followed the relevant lettings protocol. I have also complained that the hand delivered letter I received classing me as a tolerated trespasser, appeared just hours after big articles were published in local newspapers regarding my criticism of the cost of Wrexham’s Mayor. I find this a very strange coincidence. The Ombudsman has referred my case to the council to investigate and I’m currently waiting to hear back from them."
Cllr Gregory states he will challenge the council’s decision to force him to leave his home.
“The stress from this situation has been very difficult to deal with, the way it’s been handled is disgraceful. I will fight them all the way, they shouldn’t be treating me differently because I’ve challenged them about cutting local services and proposed they should cut the Mayor’s budget and highly paid consultants instead. I’m very much looking forward to taking this matter to court and am currently getting advice as regards the next step”.