[Ben Reeve Lewis talks about training …]
I did my first training course 16 years ago.
I was called with my then manager to train the Met police on landlord tenant law for a 2 hour session at the police training centre.
My manager did the first hour on the law and I did the second on the world of landlords and tenants.
I was horrified to stand in the wings for her bit.
She didn’t understand anything about presentation and sat with her legs crossed talking for an hour about the law, entirely immune to the yawns, funny looks, giggles, even rolled up balls of paper they were throwing at each other like bored schoolchildren.
When I got up to do my bit I knew I had to recover the situation, so I said breezily
“The law is funny thing you know? When I first started this job I thought it was just a matter of someone breaking the law and you prosecute them”
“I didn’t know how hard it is to actually get enough evidence to get someone into court”
“Now I know different .”
“Its so frustrating watching criminals walk. It’s no wonder that you lot fit people up from time to time”.
There was a horrible second of silence when I thought I’d cracked a joke too far and then the audience dissolved into laughter and I had them with me for the next hour.
Trainer lesson number one: People learn best when they are having fun.
Fraudsters in Brighton
It seems that down in Brighton they have had no such problems with getting enough evidence to arrest a bunch of fraudsters.
Inside Housing told us this week of 4 men arrested over a £10 million scam over property management contracts improperly awarded by the council.
More arrests are expected and I would imagine those to be within council employees, past and or present.
Councils aren’t immune to such stuff.
No bungs for Ben
Makes me wonder though. In all my years I have never even been offered a bung, let alone had to consider the moral quandary it might pose over the weekend, weighing up the risk of getting caught against the outstanding gas bill.
Unless you count the lovely Jamaican lady last year who bought me a bottle of whisky for helping her reclaim her flat from cannabis farmers.
I think even my councillors would ignore that.
Vote of no confidence
The article also contained a link to another article about Brighton Council where residents have flagged up a vote of no confidence in the way Brighton manages its social housing and called for the housing committee to be scrapped.
Quite an extraordinary development in council land. People put up with all sorts of inefficiency and crap from their local authority so you’d have to go some to get a result like that. Gawd alone knows what’s going on there. One for Rotten Boroughs in Private Eye methinks.
Or maybe the long suffering denizens of Brighton are fitting them up. Watch this space.
This week I did two day’s homelessness training in Letchworth Garden City, happily without inappropriate jokes. It was the first time I had been to any Garden City.
I didn’t get to see much of it but read up on them before I went and was quietly impressed by the ethos.
Towns designed for living in where the mortgage and rental profits are ploughed back into the community. A socialist idyll without a donkey jacket or Tom Paxton fisherman’s cap to be seen anywhere.
Government are bigging them up again and I read with some astonishment in The Guardian this week that homeowners could be compensated by government if a Garden city is built next door to them.
Well known spineless Cameron sidekick Nick Clegg, upon announcing plans to build the things said of existing local property owners, said:
“We could maybe give deductions on their council tax for the period of time during which the garden city’s being built. We could possibly also say to those homes where they think the price of their home will be affected, we will guarantee the price of their home by buying it, if you like, upfront.”
Have you been to Letchworth? It’s a nice green, safe and attractive environment. A little sleepy for my Old Kent Road tastes but hardly something that will bring down the price of your house.
Could it be that he is concerned about votes in conservative heartlands like rural Hertfordshire?
If compensating people for the inconvenience of building something large near them is a point of principle then is he going to announce plans to pay compensation to the residents of Walworth Road or Elephant and Castle while “One the elephant” is being built before being sold off to Chinese investors?
Is he bollocks.
I always hated the way that Liberals got ridiculed in comedy sketches for being wishy-washy and ineffectual, by nature leaning towards old style liberal philanthropy as a genuine third way political system but Clegg plays straight into the hands of stand up comedians the length and breadth of the land.
Grow a pair man, strap one on and if you are determined to be a side kick all your life at least get a hat. It never did Walter Brennan any harm.
Speaking of Boris’s Baby, One the Elephant I read something this week that made me double check that it wasn’t April 1st.
An article, again in the Guardian, where it has been suggested that in order for social housing tenants be included in new build developments that are part owned, there should be what are termed “Poor Doors”.
Separate entrances for social housing people.
Whilst saying he didn’t like them he didn’t come out and say he would ban them. He in fact commented:
“The difficulty is, and this is what the developers will say, is that the high charges, the concierge charges, the charges for all the services in the building, cannot always be met in a uniform way by all the tenants, and that’s why they make this case for dual access”.
So any sense of social fairness or even an acceptance that we live in the 21st century and not Downton Abbey gets swept aside in case we upset the all-powerful property developers?
Labour’s David Lammy commented, quite rightly in my book:
“It belonged “more in a Dickens novel than in a 21st-century global city, this is a case of Londoners living side by side, but completely divided by bricks, mortar and money.
Them and Us
As a kid my family were £10 Poms. Emigrating to Australia on the SS Iberia. We were all in what was termed ‘Tourist Class’ at the back of the ship and not allowed in first class but I used to look through the open doors and couldn’t see the difference.
It perplexed me. The deck was the same colour, they looked like my family. The ate, swam in the pools that looked exactly like the ones we had in tourist class and yet to step one inch over the line would get a porter/steward/jack tar shushing you back to pleb land.
I just didn’t see what was so different about them and us that I wasn’t allowed to even talk to them.
It would appear that this is creeping back into society as a whole.
Where next then? Terry Thomas? Henley Regatta v. Tubby Isaacs jellied Eel stall? Toothless Pearly Kings, smiling and gullible but happy?
Poor Doors???????? Sorry, still shaking my head at that one. I feel as if I have fallen through a wormhole into a Pathe Newsreel and am sharing a seat on the Clapham omnibus with Noel Coward.
See ya next week