1. ITV Report

Where's Home: The family forced to live in hotels

A family say they were forced to live in hotel rooms for three years because Bristol City Council refused to house them.

Luke Burns and his wife and children moved between a dozen Premier Inns in the Bristol area and even had to welcome a new baby in a hotel room.

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The family originally moved into one of the city centre hotels after they were evicted from their privately rented home.

They thought the council would house them within days but the family said they were illegally blocked from registering for housing, and after being turned down for several homelessness applications they say Bristol City Council simply refused to communicate with him.

While fighting the decision, they moved between 12 Premier Inns, looking for the cheapest daily rates, and survived on benefits and money transferred from relatives in Russia.

The Local Government Ombudsman eventually ruled in favour of the family and said they'd been "failed" by the council.

Bristol City Council was criticised for ignoring the family's appalling housing conditions, failing to accept their applications for help, and wrongly threatening to dump their belongings.

We would like to apologise for any hurt caused to the family and for any failures that led to them living in unsuitable conditions for such a long time.

While we recognise that the situation was unacceptable for a family with young children, we do believe that we tried to do our best for the family on a number of occasions. This includes making discretionary housing payments available on two occasions, to help the family find private rented sector accommodation.

In March 2017 we took a new homelessness application and accepted the family's application for social housing. In June 2017 the family were allocated a three bedroom council house.

The welfare of families is a priority for the council and safeguarding the health and wellbeing of vulnerable young people is something we take very seriously. We recognise however that on this occasion we did not live up to our usual high standards.

This has been a particularly unusual case due to the length of time since the application and the difficulties in being able to make meaningful contact with the family.

– Cllr Paul Smith and Cllr Helen Godwin, Bristol City Council
Over three years Luke Burns' family spent £90,000 on hotels Credit: ITV West Country

Luke was awarded £9,000 for the injustice but he's in the middle of another legal battle to try and recover some of the money spent on hotel rooms, which added up to £90,000.

We're looking at 2-3 years to clear the debt we incurred at this time.

It was not the easy option to be in the hotel, and it was expected for us to lose our children and break up that's what they expected us to do.

It's beyond words that the people who were meant to be responsible for children's wellbeing had no concern for their wellbeing.

– Luke Burns

Luke and his family have finally been given a house in Bristol and are trying to rebuild their lives.

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