Grant money for James is still available, says council

WAITING GAME: James Goodge at home in Howe Way, Acton.
WAITING GAME: James Goodge at home in Howe Way, Acton.
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A £30,000 grant, which will help improve the life of a boy with cerebral palsy, is in place, according to Babergh District Council.

Anthony Goodge and his wife Octavia, who live in Howe Way, Acton, need the money to help build an extension to provide a bedroom and wetroom for their four-year-old son, James.

Last week, Mr Goodge said it was likely the family would have to reapply for the council grant as it had not come through before the end of the authority’s financial year.

The district council, however, insists that is not the case and the grant has been held up by negotiations between Mr Goodge, his sister and a family friend – who own the house – over the terms of the agreement.

“The property is owned by three people and all the paperwork has not been signed,” said Heather Worton, Babergh’s interim corporate manager for private sector housing.

“Without consent from all the owners, we cannot process it. As soon as we have the signatures, we can press the go button.”

As part of the conditions of the grant, the council can reclaim up to £10,000 from the family should they decide to sell the property within the next 10 years. Mrs Worton said this was proving “a sticking point”.

“Obviously the council would take into account the reasons for the move and would not ask for the money if the move was down to James’ condition worsening or Mr Goodge finding a new job elsewhere,” she said.

“But it has caused some anxiety and the grant is being held in reserve at the moment.”

Mr Goodge, whose wife is due to have an operation to remove a brain tumour in the coming weeks, confirmed the matter was delaying matters.

“We cannot come to an agreement over the stipulations of the grant,” he said.

“We do not know if the property will be suitable in five or 10 years time and do not want to be left having to pay back £10,000.

“It we can come to an agreement, we will do that, otherwise we will have to do the work ourselves.”

Mr Goodge said there had been “crossed wires” regarding what happened with the grant going into the council’s new financial year.

“We were under the impression that a new tax year meant having to reapply,” he added.

The Free Press joined the family’s appeal to help James and raise a further £10,000 towards the project last year.