[News and views from our investigative reporter Ben Reeve-Lewis, with a bit of comment from me – Ed]
Searching for information in different ways to what I used to do with TRO Confidential has been a real eye opener for me.
Being a dyed in the wool front line worker where just dealing with the people who come through the front door is more important than politician’s shilly shallying (Spell checker doesn’t give me any leads on that phrase I’m afraid) I have usually looked to the legal stuff first so I was amazed to come across a fantastic an unexpectedly hilarious web link to our very own housing minister, Grant Shapps’s collected speeches on housing matters., called ‘Home Truths’.
Which coincidentally was the name of a popular radio 4 programme, presented by the equally popular and late [and great – Ed] , John Peel……Our Grant trying to do a linguistic trick and associate himself with a national treasure? No…….too cynical.
The difference, it seems to me, is that John Peel’s version was awash with compassion for people. Grant’s version, on the other hand, reads like a manifesto cooked up in the dormitory of 5th form boys in Tom Brown’s Schooldays.
Check this out….
Housing is fundamental to all of our lives because the need for shelter is one of our most primitive instincts. And yet today, housing is also one of the most complicated areas of public policy because it is interwoven with our health, education and our future.
Well done mate….keep it up, we are with you so far.
I have considered it vital to ensure that these proposals do not simply adhere to the status quo or pander to pressure groups and industry lobbies.
Fantastic…thumbs are up…..what next?
Contented tenants, living in harmony with ‘Walkways in the Sky’ making it easy to drop in on your neighbour three tower blocks away for a cuppa, without even needing to walk down to street level first. Heaven! Actually, as we all now know, it was more like hell.
Blimey…. Walkways in the sky!!!!!!! ‘A Cuppa’????? We’re losing it and going back to Dad’s Army..
Those drafty ‘Walkways in the Sky’ quickly became convenient escape routes for criminals. The smell of urine in the lifts was sometimes so overpowering that it was preferable to walk up dozens of flights of concrete stairs.
Oh no…..Utopia turns into the Mail on Sunday.
As I canvassed any resident not too nervous to answer their door, I was left in no doubt that this experiment in modern living had comprehensively failed.
So what is the solution Grant?
“Vote For Me On Thursday And We’ll Begin Knocking Down Your Home On Friday.”
A friend of mine once told me about an American stand-up comedian who gave up his job when George Dubbya got into power because he didn’t think he could ever write anything funnier than that……………I think we have found the English equivalent.
Now I know some people who have read my work in the past think me a landlord basher…..this is so not true. As a TRO I see as many bad tenants as I see rogue landlords, but Shelter have been doing a bit of research into current trends in the private renal sector and have uncovered some disturbing developments.
There has been a 40% increase in private lets recently to 3.4 million of the population.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said:
“The housing minister’s claim that ‘the vast majority of England’s three million private tenants are happy with the service they receive’ has been seriously thrown into question today.
He went on to say…..
“Our figures clearly show a worrying increase in the number of people seeking our help regarding problems with their landlord. The idea that just one rogue landlord could be harassing a family in their home is completely unacceptable and it’s shocking that the minister still refuses to tackle the issue.
“It’s frightening to see that complaints about bad landlords are increasing at such a rate, at the very time that renting a home is fast becoming the only option for thousands of families across this country. It appears that rogue landlords are cashing in on this growing market.”
The old Labour government talked about legislation to control rogue landlords……the coalition dropped it. But did you know that in Scotland they have a system whereby if a landlord doesn’t register themselves it is a criminal offence and rogue landlords can be put out of business for not complying.
Of course a decent landlord, which 99% of them are, has nothing to fear from such legislation but proper licensing would really help resource strapped councils to get on top of the worst offenders.
If Scotland can do it, why can’t we????? [Probably because there are huge objections from the landlord lobby who think its Big Brother gone mad … Ed]
[Do YOU have any comments on Ben’s ramblings? Please use the comment box below – Ed]