Former soldier will be ‘homeless’ when caravan is removed

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An injured ex-soldier living in a lay-by between Chichester and Bognor said he could be homeless when the council removes his caravan next week.

Paul Wright, 53, has been living alongside the A259 for 18 months and said both Arun District Council and Chichester District Council have deemed him a ‘non-priority’ for housing.

Paul Wright, 53, has been living in a lay-by on the A259 for 18 months and said his caravan will now be crushed

Paul Wright, 53, has been living in a lay-by on the A259 for 18 months and said his caravan will now be crushed

The former Para had two stints serving his country in Northern Ireland in the 1980s and said when his home is destroyed next Monday, he and his two dogs will likely be forced to sleep rough.

“I’ve been living in my caravan here for 18 months but now I’ve been told it’s going to be taken away on Monday and crushed,” said Paul.

“I’ve been to Arun and Chichester councils to ask about housing but they’ve both say I’m a non-priority because I haven’t lived here for more than two years.

“I’ve been asked to move it (my caravan) but because of vandals damaging the wheels and windows I can’t.

Paul's caravan was due to be removed but an army charity will find him a home

Paul's caravan was due to be removed but an army charity will find him a home

“I don’t feel like I’m hurting anyone being here and I’ve tried to cooperate, I’m not trying to be difficult.”

Originally from Hebburn, near Newcastle, Paul said he had been living in the area since 2000 and moved into his caravan 18 months ago.

He joined the Territorial Army in 1979, served in the Parachute Regiment for three years and twice saw active duty in Northern Ireland.

He injured his back while in the army, which he said has since developed arthritis and the collapse of three disks in his spine. He said he also suffers from a heart condition which killed both his father and uncle.

“I had to go to court and then had a letter from the highways people saying I either had to move my caravan or they would take it and crush it,” Paul said.

“But I can’t move it so they are going to destroy my home.

“I do feel let down and I know there’s a lot of ex serviceman who struggle when they come out and are suffering.”

A painter by trade, he has been out of work since July but said he was hoping to find employment.

West Sussex County Council said it would not destroy the caravan, only move it.

A spokeswoman said: “We have asked Mr Wright to arrange removing the caravan himself in the first instance following complaints from the public.

“If that is not possible we will move the caravan to a safe location.

“This will then give Mr Wright the time he needs to find a suitable alternative place for his caravan.”

She added: “Mr Wright met with Chichester District Council on Friday to investigate various options to house him.”

Paul has been down to homeless charity Stonepillow but he said although they may be able to help, they couldn’t guarantee his two bullmastiffs Lotti and Loki would fit in the kennels.

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