[Ben Reeve Lewis has done his back in ..]
So I was standing in the doorway this morning saying goodbye to Frazzy and something weird twanged in my lower back.
Now moving my left leg or putting weight on it is really painful.
My jazz/blues guitar teacher, the excellent Greg X is getting concerned that I’m ending phrases on the wrong finger, leaving me unable to set my hands up for the next lick and rendering me more Jason King than BB King and the head gasket has blown on the car.
Bring on the next catastrophe.
I could say “At least I’m not a private tenant” but sadly that isn’t true.
Dealing with rubbish
Our upstairs neighbours recently moved out, filling both bins with rubbish and leaving 10 black bin liners in the front garden which have now been attacked by foxes.
We have been onto their agents, saying get it sorted or we will report a 215 to Southwark council AND their owner clients who are paying them 10%.
(Section 215 Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Council powers to serve notices on dumped stuff – the benefits of being a council enforcement officer with tactical knowledge. Not a good tenant to cross)
But to be honest what were our previous neighbours thinking? Who just dumps stuff in people’s gardens and walks away? Where is your civil pride and sense of personal responsibility? Somebody else will always sort out your mess for you will they?…bloody children!!!!!
Yes it’s been one of those weeks. I’m in pain and I’m pissed off. So who can I attack on the news front?
Followed by the Tories
I stopped cultivating twitter followers a while back when I got to 1,500. Most of whom are actually housing people and not porn stars but I have been bemused in recent weeks to pick up both Kris Hopkins and Grant Shapps, both ex Tory housing ministers.
What did I do to deserve them? Could a week get worse than finding Tory politicians following you on twitter?
So let’s look at how I can attack current housing minister Brandon Lewis….mine and Frazzy’s name-sake.
The Guardian gave us a handy guide to him, pointing out that he is the fourth housing minister in three years. Luckily he isn’t following me on twitter yet, unless I can find a link between him and Balkan death squads of the 1990s, in which case I’m sure his Twitter-bots will hone in on me straight away.
Let’s start with everyone’s favourite wicked witch of the north….Newham council
Newham and the E15 Mums
Last week I reported on the E15 group of single mums occupying an estate near the Olympic site. Now Newham are going to war against them
The Inside Housing article reports:
“Newham Council declined to comment”.
Meaning heads between tails time and the council’s press team having last minute rallying meetings with in-house legal services over damage limitation.
Further back in the article it would appear that the E15 mums are getting sound legal advice by claiming that they haven’t been in the accommodation for more than 12 hours, neatly side-stepping squatting laws.
So a legal stand-off seems to be in the offing, that I’m sure Newham don’t want to escalate.
Labour London Assembly member Tom Copley, a humorous and principled man describes Newham’s behaviour over all this as “Unnecessarily aggressive”.
Certainly one worth watching.
Who’s next for my ire?
Well Camo and Miliband of course.
With the general election less than a year away the various politicos are lining up like delusional contestants on The Apprentice, keen to show that they know how the world works and how confidently they move within it, whilst simultaneously displaying how completely clueless they are…..which is why everyone loves the programme without realising that this is actually a cultural metaphor for politicians of any stripe.
Miliband promising deals to private tenants and Generation rent whilst Camo sets out his wares promising to protect the NHS……whoops….there goes that flying pig again.
None of which are genuine policies you understand, just vote winning statements that neither side is actually committed to.
Miliband has promised a mansion tax for properties worth more than £2million but around my way that’s just a 3 bed terraced house.
Zoopla report that 85,261 of them are in London and the South East, a total of 88% of the full amount.
Labour reckon this will raise £1.2billion in revenue, which if my memory serves me well is the amount IDS wanted to slash from benefits.
Choice or no choice?
So vote labour and hit the rich or vote conservative and hit the poor. No change there then. Same every election for over 100 years. Ya-da-ya-da-ya-da.
Of course I will vote Labour because I prefer bumbling incompetence to Haw-Haw-Haw, back slapping, cigar puffing arrogance but then in the great scheme of things it’s like those conversations you have as a kid….”Would you rather be blind or deaf?……Would you prefer to lose an arm or a leg”
To whit….no choice at all in real terms.
Always, the smaller picture
What irks me the most about housing politicians and councils is their failure to be able to see a bigger picture, constantly tinkering around with benefit claims or homelessness statistics without for a minute seeing how it all connects up in our lives as a whole.
Housing problems are not divorced from health, education or wellbeing.
Which is why I was enthused this week by an article on New Start Magazine.
Author Storm Cunningham talks of ‘Place Medicine’ and the need to revitalise communities at all levels in a holistic way.
Storm quite rightly comments:
“Most public leaders will say they’re seriously working towards it, but when was the last time you met a public director of revitalisation? Or a Ph.D. in revitalisation? Or saw a substantial, ongoing public budget item with ‘revitalisation’ in its name?”
He urges that the only alternative is to embrace a holistic view of housing, health and communities or alternatively just:
“Go back to just fixing parts of our communities, and hope for the best. Let’s cease pretending we’re working towards the grand goal of creating resilient prosperity for healthy places, and reversing the downward spiral of distressed places.”
A view I’m increasingly warming to.
We try to tackle increasing homelessness by looking at the immediate causes of homelessness and its legal resolutions.
- Try sitting in an inner city homelessness unit for a week and see how the standard approach is working, especially when you see the police vans arriving to remove people staging a sit-in, which happens at least once a day.
- Try looking for legal solutions to a landlord with a nightmare tenant smashing the property up and using their identity to get credit.
- Try helping the tenant who hasn’t had any hot water for 3 months who complains to the council and gets evicted for their sins.
This is housing land 2014 and the usual crap doesn’t work.
Labour and the Tories are setting out their election wares based on the same old, same old and meanwhile everyone talks about building our way out of the housing crisis which is identified as being solely down to a shortage, pushing the twin uncontrollable evils of supply and demand, known to all and sundry as a free market system.
The truth is our housing nexus is reflective of not only a cultural view but also an approach to problem solving that segments and deconstructs when we need to moving the other way and seeing how it all fits together.
Politicians are incapable of doing this because they live in hashtag world.
The end of And Finally
And finally, I’m ditching ‘And finally’, in favour of moments in the week that made me smile, in order to counterbalance the sometimes negative tenor of my articles.
This week BB King at the Montreuax Jazz Festival in 1993 doing “The thrill has gone” listen to his right hand……genius.
See ya next week