Denied a council flat 78 times

A SERIOUSLY ill woman who says she is being harassed and who has been refused housing in Barking and Dagenham almost 80 times – because she lives over the boundary in Newham – is at the centre of a unique High Court test case. Carol Van Boolen, 49, of Wil

A SERIOUSLY ill woman who says she is being harassed and who has been refused housing in Barking and Dagenham almost 80 times - because she lives over the boundary in Newham - is at the centre of a unique High Court test case.

Carol Van Boolen, 49, of William Morley Close, Newham, suffers from a distressing list of medical complaints, including diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, lumbago and depression.

She also says she has been subjected to a campaign of harassment by a local group of youths and is desperate to move to Barking and Dagenham, where she used to work and where she has community ties, the court was told.

Her barrister, Robert Latham, says that, between March 2007 and December last year, she applied for 78 flats in Barking and Dagenham, but was turned down each time.


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He told the court that, on each occasion, she was the highest priority bidder but her priority was reduced "because of her lack of local connection".

Barking and Dagenham introduced its Choice Based housing allocation scheme in April 2005 but now Ms Van Boolen is challenging it on grounds that those living outside the borough are, in effect, given no choice at all.

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Through Mr Latham, she argues, that, regardless of particular individual needs, the council is enforcing "an unlawful blanket policy of reducing priority in all cases where the applicant has no local connection".

She also says the "irrational" policy is too vague and uncertain and results in housing priority being assessed "on an undefined and unguided discretionary basis".

On Monday, at a preliminary hearing, Mr Justice Hickinbottom, gave Ms Van Boolen permission to put forward all her arguments in a judicial review challenge to the council's allocation policy.

He directed that her case should take priority in busy court lists and be heard in July.

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