All posts from: September 2009
Not so now, says a new survey of 2,000 people by Circle Anglia. Seven per cent told the housing association they would flog one of their internal organs voluntarily for the chance to get on the property ladder.
One in four said they would sign up to clinical trial while a quarter of the more squeamish Scots said they were gambling their way to homeownership.
Hopes for a sunny outlook to this year’s party conferences were quickly eclipsed as the Liberal Democrats kicked off with their jamboree in Bournemouth.
Party leader Nick Clegg predicted ‘brave’ and ‘savage’ cuts. Closed Circuit assumes it will be the politicians who take on the role of the savage while expecting public sector workers to put on the brave face.
Surely a brighter outlook was on the cards for the housing world, what with all that extra cash flowing in? Not so said Lib Dem peer Baroness Kishwer Falkner. ”The good times are over in this sector,’ she lamented at a fringe session organised by Hyde Housing Association.
Tough questions tax the minds of the luminaries who are the board members of the Tenant Services Authority. Minutes from a July meeting spied by Closed Circuit this week, reveal that they are scratching their heads over whether they should be allowed to travel first class.
Mercifully, the byzantine civil service machine kicked in to ease their pain. An official advised that a report would be prepared for the board on the thorny issue for publication in October. Glad to see the tenants’ champion has got its priorities right.
Few of you can likely lay claim to recording three singles, being played on Radio 1 and recording a session for London’s Capital Radio. But as Inside Housing prepares its first ever music issue - out on 2 October - it has emerged that Hyde boss David Eastgate has done all three.
‘We don’t play anymore,’ Eastgate says of his former band, The Larks, ‘But I still see them [his bandmates] and the more we drink the more we think about getting back together.’ With conference-season in full swing, perhaps that could be sooner than he thinks.
Veteran tenancy fraudbuster Carol Bayes is in no doubt about the best way to detect unlawful subletting - regular tenancy checks.
But the Southwark housing investigations manager is baffled that so many social landlords have failed to grasp the idea that these visits should be unannounced.
They don’t want to waste money knocking on doors when no-one’s home so they, er, ring ahead and make an appointment. ‘They argue that then at least the tenant is home and they get to do the tenancy check,’ says Ms Bayes. ‘But the point of a tenancy check is to check that the tenant is there…’
It’s a great time to move to the Lancashire town of Burnley. It sits just off the Pennine Way, is surrounded by beautiful moorland, has a football team enjoying a superb start to its first season in the Premier League in 33 years, and the rents are ridiculously low.
Well some of them are. Fed up with a succession of poorly behaved tenants, local estate agent Taylor Housing is offering to rent a two-bedroom terraced house to the highest bidder - as long as they have decent references. At time of writing, the highest bid was £50 a month, with one week left to go. But finding the right tenants might not be so easy - there have already been three bids by someone called ‘Models required’.
They clearly love their dancing at the Northern Housing Consortium - its annual ball last Thursday near Sedgefield was a typically
A special mention, however, must go to Graham Scanlon of Keepmoat. It would have been perfectly understandable if he had decided to (ahem) sidestep the event given that he broke his leg during a particularly vigorous number last year. But undeterred and following three operations on his knee, he was back for more. Luckily, the ball went off without (too much) incident.
Closed Circuit has stumbled across a curious entry in Conservative MP Oliver Letwin’s register of members’ interests. Consultancy Knight Frank is listed as a party donor in Dorset. Surely not the same firm which described the Labour Party’s homeownership policies as ‘bizarre’ in a report? Yes, confirmed a red-faced press officer but the donation was by an individual, a certain Michael de Pelet who trades as Knight Frank in Sherborne. ‘Knight Frank is non-political and does not make political donations,’ she insisted.
When shadow home secretary Chris Grayling claimed that Britain’s inner cities now resembled the drug and gun-drenched streets of Baltimore - as portrayed in US TV series The Wire - he garnered the column inches he so obviously craved.
But he also drew a brilliant rebuke from Baltimore’s mayor, Sheila Dixon who was none too impressed with her city’s name being dragged through the mud.
‘To present a television show as the real Baltimore is to perpetuate a fiction that dishonours our city,’ she wrote on her mayoral blog. ‘It is as pointless as boasting that Baltimore has a per capita homicide rate a fraction of that in the popular UK television show Midsomer Murders.’
But despite being reported seriously by several UK broadsheets - and even by the Baltimore Sun, the newspaper depicted in The Wire as a once-great organ brought low by shoddy journalism - the mayor’s comments turned out to be a hoax perpetrated by a British political blogger. As The Wire character Omar Little might say: ‘Play or get played. It’s that simple.’
Timber-framed housing expert Paula Sunshine, from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, is extending her 16th century house withperhaps the most renewable and sustainable building material of all.
When human hair is mixed with lime, it apparently makes the perfect plaster - as long as the hair’s previous owner looked after it.
‘I always go to female hair salons because women usually have their hair washed before a cut, which means it is very clean,’ Ms Sunshine said. Closed Circuit is considering making a donation…
Forget interest rates and inflation, London mayor Boris Johnson has come up with a new measure of economic health. At a meeting with leaders of London’s boroughs last week, the blonde bombshell urged the politicians to talk up the strengths of the capital’s economy.
And this was not mere hyperbole; he had fresh evidence of the green shoots of recovery. Fewer restaurants have closed in London than Paris. That’s right folks, the economy may be having its worst year since the Second World War, but that doesn’t matter a jot because we are beating the French at their own gastronomic game.
Until now pop star Shaggy’s main contribution to housing debates has been to stress the importance of remembering whether or not you have given your girlfriend a spare key if you are cheating on her.
But last weekend he drew attention to wider issues at the Leeds Reggae Concert where he was performing on the Unity Housing Association stage. It is the first time the event has been sponsored by a local business.
And, for the record, Closed Circuit thinks that the events outlined by Shaggy in his number one hit sound so stressful that it is probably a better option not to cheat in the first place.
Source: Robert Thompson
There are some bureaucrats out there who are taking a very pessimistic view of climate change and rising sea levels - or at least Closed Circuit hopes so.
A trio of tower blocks in west London are having new penthouse flats added and they had to have a flood risk assessment carried out before they could be built.
Despite being 24 storeys and 80 metres up, there is apparently a risk that they might end up under water. Should we be heading for the hills?
There was panic in the streets of South London last week amid suggestions in the Daily Telegraph that a social landlord had banned hanging baskets from tower blocks.
Not so, according to Richmond Housing Partnership which told Inside Housing the story was completely false.An RHP spokesperson said: ‘It’s not true. We were simply asking that large objects causing obstruction be removed, certainly not hanging baskets.’
Residents can now rest safe in the knowledge that their potted plants and window boxes are not on a housing association hit list.
Haringey’s arm’s-length management organisation was quick to rush out a press release after it took part in a peer review scheme of housing estates together with other London boroughs.
The panel of tenants who examined Homes for Haringey’s properties praised their standard. One tenant on the panel, Lily Evans, said the standard of estates was ‘one of the best so far’.
All good news then - but Closed Circuit has yet to receive releases from other councils who were peer reviewed - there’s no need to be shy.