18 04 2008

Worthing disabled man’s protest halted

18 April 2008

Worthing, U. K.

Sussex Express

http://www.sussexexpress.co.uk/worthing-news/Worthing-disabled-mans-protest-halted.3997153.jp

A DISABLED man has staged a protest at a council building after claiming housing staff refused to find him suitable accommodation in Worthing.

Warren Leake said he was unhappy with the way his housing situation was being handled by Worthing Council and felt staging a “sit-in” was the only way to get it resolved.

But after the 24-year-old had been inside the council-owned Portland House in Richmond Road for almost three hours on Tuesday, April 15, staff called the police.

Three police cars and five police officers were dispatched to the scene.

Warren was arrested for disturbing the peace but was released from custody later that night.

Warren’s mother, Sandra McCann, 47, of Whitebeam Road, Durrington, said: “It’s a pretty poor show when all those police turn up to arrest a disabled person who just wants to get his point across.

“Nobody seems to want to help him and he felt it was the only thing he could do.”

Wheelchair-bound

Warren suffered severe brain damage, which left him needing to use an electric wheelchair most of the time after he was involved in a car accident in October, 2005.

Following the crash, he was told he had just two hours to live, but amazed doctors when he pulled through.

He was then told he would never walk or talk again, but defied the odds when he did both.

Now, he wants to live independently in Worthing, where he has physiotherapy sessions and uses a gym to help his rehabilitation.

But after visiting the council’s housing office three weeks ago, he was sent to stay at a hotel in Fontwell.

He was then given a room at a Worthing hotel, but he could not get inside the building as the entrance had steps.

Housing staff then moved him to The Comfort Inn at Crossbush, near Arundel.

Dad-of-two Warren said: “It’s no good for me there because I need to go to physio in Worthing three times a week and it’s costing me £120 a week in taxis to get there.

“It’s so lonely at Crossbush. There’s nothing to do and nowhere to go.”

Trying to help

Council spokeswoman Wendy Knight said: “When Mr Leake arrived at Portland House, he was told we could not meet his demands for bed and breakfast in Worthing as it was the responsibility of social services.

“We advised him we were working with Worthing Homes to find him a suitable property as soon as we could.

“Mr Leake refused to leave our office unless we gave him accommodation in Worthing.

“He was verbally abusive to a member of staff and threw water over him, at which point the council requested the police to attend.”

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