Backlash over home appeal story

Readers write, phone and email to have their say.

OUR front page story last week prompted an angry backlash from readers, who said they were outraged that a Honiton family is seeking a larger council home.

We reported how the Manley family, of Custance House, is being put under severe emotional pressure by overcrowding at their two bedroom council flat.

James and Ann-Marie Manley have four children and a fifth on the way, as well as two dogs and two cats.

They are one of many families in East Devon seeking a larger home at a time when there is a dire shortage of affordable housing.

The harsh economic climate, coupled with impending cuts to public services, provoked many to voice their opinions on the Manley family’s predicament. Readers put pen to paper, telephoned us and also commented on our website.

One correspondent likened the editor of this newspaper to a witch, saying she had “stirred her witchy stick”.

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Some honed in on Mr Manley’s unemployed status, but he pointed out to his critics on the Midweek Herald website: “I have worked most of my life.

“ I am not at the moment as the last job I was in went, because of the firm’s bankruptcy.

“Since then, I have been looking, but haven’t found anything.

“So don’t judge us if you don’t know all the facts.

“If I could get a job, then I would do it.”

Here are just a few of the letters received in response to our original story...

Whilst having sympathy for anyone living in overcrowded conditions with small children, I do feel that the adults in the Manley family could do more to help themselves.

For example, a more responsible attitude to family size whilst living in such a relatively small flat would have been a benefit to their obviously stressed relationship.

Some self-control on behalf of the parents would have prevented the police needing to be involved in their domestic disputes, an occurrence which must be deeply upsetting for their children and disturbing for their neighbours.

However much the adult Manleys like animals, keeping two dogs and two cats in a cramped flat with no garden makes no sense at all and must also add to their problems.

Surely, it would be better to re-home their pets until they have a larger house with a garden.

Life at the present time is hard for lots of people, but most of us take responsible decisions about our life-style choices and stoically get on with things without recourse to the front page of a newspaper.

J M Jones.


I feel I have to write with regard to last week’s front page news.

I am sorry, but I have never heard such rubbish; you live by your means and, if that is a two bedroom council flat (paid for by us workers), you keep your family within these boundaries.

If you want a big family, then work hard to provide the safe, secure environment you should for them before they are born, not expect taxpayers to pick up the tab for rehousing you after you keep getting pregnant.

Instead of moaning about the council not rehousing you into a bigger property, why not stop having children that needlessly suffer in cramped conditions?

I have not been able to afford children, as I have worked from 13, therefore forfeiting any right to government help.

What a high price pride is!

Valerie Yelland

By email

These are the people that the Government should be aiming their cuts at. To have children without any way of supporting them is, to my mind, theft!

Theft from those in the community who work extremely hard to support their own families, who only have enough children that they are able to support.

For Mr Manley to state that they are ‘having falling outs upon falling outs’ must be a contradiction, seeing that they are still happy enough to keep getting pregnant! Have they not heard of contraception?

Catherine Fisher

By email