A leading Ashfield councillor says he is going through a ‘living nightmare’ as he fights to clear his name over allegations of benefit fraud.
Jim Aspinall, a Labour councillor for St Mary’s ward, told Chad that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is looking into allegations that he is falsely claiming disability living allowance for his failing health.
Coun Aspinall has had four heart attacks, a triple by-pass operation, has undergone radiotherapy for prostate cancer from which he has still not been given the all-clear, suffers from the bowel condition - diverticulitis, has degenerative spondylolisthesis meaning he has severe pain in his lower back, has high blood pressure and was recently diagnosed as having type-two diabetes.
The 67-year-old, who has to take 14 different pills a day to combat his ailments, receives £330 a month in benefits.
However, Coun Aspinall says the DWP are in possession of video footage showing him at a ‘Save-the-NHS’ march outside King’s Mill Hospital in August last year.
He is briefly spotted walking a short distance.
He says the investigation was launched earlier this year, but says that he was so unwell on two occasions he was unable to be interviewed.
He has letters of support from his GP, the chief executive at Ashfield District Council and the chairman of Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust, plus the backing of Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero.
Speaking to Chad, Coun Aspinall, who is also the cabinet portfolio holder for health and wellbeing on Ashfield District Council and a staunch supporter of the NHS, said: “Everybody knows what my condition is, I can’t walk any distances.
“I know where every bench is in Kirkby and Sutton because I can’t walk very far.
“I was at that march, but I only walked a few metres. I drove most of the way.
“This whole thing has been a living nightmare. I’ve got all these issues, and I’m on anti-depressants which I’ve never taken before in my life, and I have to take sleeping tablets because I won’t sleep otherwise.
“I need a cleaner and I have to pay someone to cut my grass because I can’t do it.
“I’m in real pain but I still keep working.
“I could easily retire and live off the state, but I work for the people of Ashfield.
“I don’t know when there’s going to be a decision, but I just want this to be over.
“My conscience is clear whatever the outcome. I will fight this the whole way, I know what I am living with.”
Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero said: “I’ve seen this nightmare take its toll on Jim and I know he’s keen for this to finally be resolved as quickly as possible so that he can get on with his life.
“I’m pleased I’ve been able to employ someone who is sick and disabled for twelve hours a week but we’ve had to make changes to work round Jim’s poor health.
“Many ill and disabled people like Jim still want to work, so he accompanies me on some visits which I’m always careful to ensure involve only walking from the car to the location.
“He also helps out at constituency coffee mornings and he’s accompanied constituents at various meetings where they’ve wanted representation.”