Born and bred in Barford...but not local enough

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A young woman who grew up in Barford where her parents ran the village pub has been shocked to discover she does not qualify for social housing - as she is not ‘local enough’.

A young woman who grew up in Barford where her parents ran the village pub has been shocked to discover she does not qualify for social housing - as she is not ‘local enough’.

Gemma Douglas moved from Barford to Lighthorne Heath when she was 19 and has always dreamt of returning.

But now, at the age of 30, she has been advised by Warwick District Council officers that her childhood connection with the village is not strong enough to be considered for one of the new Taylor Wimpey homes that are about to be built off Wellesbourne Road.

Taylor Wimpey have consent for 60 two to four-bedroomed homes of which 24 will be available for rent, or at “affordable” mortgage prices - with “local people” getting priority.

Gemma said: “I understand there may be other people who are more in need of a rented house than me.

“But to be advised that I’m not even in the running because my connections with Barford, where I was born, raised and educated are not valid, is just ridiculous.”

Gemma’s parents, Tom and Gill Douglas, ran The Granville Arms until 1998 and then rented a property in Barford until 2004.

It was then the family realised they could not buy a house in the village due to soaring house prices. Instead they moved out to Lighthorne Heath.

The criteria for being allocated one of the social housing is complicated but one of the first requirements is having a blood relative living in the village.

Gemma said: “When my parents ran the pub I was brought up by Norman Nelmes and his partner who still live in Barford.

“He is not a blood relative although he is someone I consider my surrogate grandfather.”

Priority for the rented properties will also be given to those who currently work in the village - although nearly every shop in the village has closed and there are few agricultural jobs.

Also to anyone who has lived in the village for at least three months out of the past year or three years out of the past five.

Gemma added: “My family would have loved to return to Baford - we just couldn’t afford it. And now, as a mature student and working part-time in my dad’s bar in Warwick, I can’t afford a place of my own.

“If I could have remained in Barford or moved back I would have done so in a heartbeat. Unfortunately it has not been financially possible.

“But why should rural communities be the reserve of the wealthy, middle-classes?

“I feel outraged to be told I do not have a local connection and am determined to challenge this unfair criteria.”

n Officers at Warwick District Council say they are unable to comment on individual cases but point to the Rural Lettings Policy on which the allocation of any social housing is based. All candidates must fulfil at least one of the criteria listed below.

* People who currently live in the parish and have done so continuously for at least two years and are seeking more suitable accommodation.

* Those who have lived in the parish for two out of the last ten years.

* People who used to live in the parish and who have immediate family there. This is restricted to a mother, father, son daughter, brother or sister living in the area.

* Those Those who have elderly relatives or young families in the village to whom it is essential to offer support.

* People who are employed in the parish in permanent paid work, other than that of a casual nature and have been so for at least 12 months.