[Ben Reeve Lewis is off to the country…)
Exciting times for us Londoners.
At the time of writing I don’t know who the new mayor will be. I know who I voted for but will he make it?
Well to my mind, if Leicester City and Donald Trump can come through so can Sadiq, despite all the last minute smearing nonsense equating Ken Livingstone with Heinrich Himmler. Maybe it’s a year for surprise results.
Off to the country …
If things go to plan I will end 2016 as a country squire, bucking my previous exhortations that I am London through and through and will never leave. That’s a surprise in itself as I trade my Pearly King’s jacket for a green Barbour.
If Property Industry Eye’s report that London rents show no signs of slowing down then it would appear I am making the right decision .
Creating a market rent
I was watching the Hairy Bikers on TV the other night. They were cooking with Saffron and the shorter funnier one ( I have no idea of their names) said he was asked how much of the expensive spice you put into a dish, his reply was “As much as you can afford”.
A logic I think transfers to landlords and letting agents in the capital.
How much should I increase the rent this year? “As much as you can get away with”.
Our own landlords have lumped on another £70 per month, bringing the rent on our one bed flat to £1,350 PCM. The result of which is that their ideal tenants of 4 years standing who never miss a single penny in rent are moving on.
Testament to the nonsense that good, reliable tenants are what landlords want.
High rents in London
The Telegraph picked up the point this week that it is cheaper to live in a 4 star hotel in most of Europe than rent a flat in London and when the Telegraph head up an article with a title like that you know we are in serious trouble.
The article reports of a new communal development in Old Oak where people can rent a small double room for £1,100 per month with a shared kitchen.
Leader of this strange, optimistic commune for young professionals Reza Merchant says:
“Our Old Oak development is offering Londoners a fresh and innovative way of living – it’s also a much needed option in the context of the capital’s housing crisis.“
Its not new Reza…I lived in a community like this years ago, we called it ‘A squat’ and we didn’t pay through the nose for it either. In fact if my memory serves it was free…….
Even the Telegraph pointed out:
“The new development in Old Oak is billed as “a new way to live in London”, but it’s really like student halls re-marketed for young professionals.”
‘I was going to say that …’
Last week I trod the boards with NLA boss Richard Lambert and RLA policy head and occasional Easy Law presenter David Smith for Westminster Briefing delivering a day of talks about the rogue landlord enforcement element of the impending Planning Bill to 50 or 60 council enforcement types, not a gig I would have envied in their positions.
I have twice spoken at the Property Investors Show at the Excel Arena so I know from experience how it feels to be playing against the opposition.
As has happened to me before, the topics I was booked to speak about were covered in their entirety by Richard and David, leaving me, as the fourth speaker to improvise.
I was once booked to do an hour at a homelessness forum and on the day was advised that they had booked another speaker as well. They asked us both who should go first, being a gentleman I offered the female presenter first slot and she proceeded to cover every single point of my one hour presentation.
My commitment to courtly manners ended that day. If it happens again, sod it love…..I’m on first.
Luckily I was born with the gift for chatter and a very high embarrassment threshold, the essential qualities of trainers and presenters.
The Homeless Jesus
At days end of Westminster Briefing my old mucker and co-presenter on the day Roz Spencer shot off for dinner with Steve Hilditch of Red Brick Blog, a staple read of mine being of the same political persuasion. I didn’t know she knew him.
She texted me afterwards to advise me to check out his story about the homeless Jesus an enlightening piece triggered by a bronze sculpture of an obvious Christ figure sleeping on a park bench, a brilliant political comment by artist Timothy Schmaltz.
Casts of the genuinely moving sculpture are already on display in Toronto, The Vatican, Dublin, Madrid and Washington DC but, the Guardian advised us permission to stick one outside the Methodist Hall opposite the houses of parliament were refused by Westminster Council because it breached section 25 of their City Plan. Martin Atkins of Methodist Hall commented:
“We’re led to the unfortunate conclusion that a sculpture of Jesus, depicted as homeless, isn’t welcome in Westminster and so close to the Houses of Parliament,” he said. “I imagine many people will find the council suggestion that this particular piece of public art would somehow lower the tone of the neighbourhood insulting and ironic.”
Hear, hear, Personally I think Cameron and Osborne lower the tone of the neighbourhood but that’s just me.
I was once held up by police walking past the entrance to Downing St to allow Margaret Thatcher’s limo to enter.
When I realised who it was inside I shouted a few choice humorous swear words through her window to the amusement of many of the gathered throng and was told to move on by a world-weary cop.
Today I would probably have been sent to Guantanamo bay or Port Talbot. When even Jesus cant get a look in with a sarcy comment what chance would the rest of us have?
What made me smile this week.
The quite astonishing discovery that an old obscure favourite album of mine from 1976 is available on iTunes not normally known for their extensive, left-field back catalogue in the UK.
Cado Belle’s one and only album of blue eyed soul sounds like Minnie Riperton marries the Average White Band and their children grow up to form the Brand New Heavies and all from a little known Glaswegian pub band.
Still sounds great.
See ya next week