All posts from: January 2010
Couldn’t get to work during the big freeze? Then spare a thought for the housing workers who suffered the opposite problem: getting stuck at work.
Night staff at a Salvation Army Housing Association hostel in Lewes were among those affected, with one resourceful worker even bedding down for the night in a cupboard. As the snow gives way to flood warnings and some forecasts suggest more icy conditions on the way, perhaps now is the time to hit the January sales for a sleeping bag.
Self-deprecation seemed to be the name of the game for speakers at last week’s south west housing conference.
First up Matthew Taylor, Lib Dem MP and new National Housing Federation chair, revealed he nearly hadn’t made it to the event. He told delegates he wanted to be remembered ‘as the man who got off the wrong train’ after disembarking at Newton Abbot instead of Exeter.
Meanwhile Northcliffe Media boss Steve Anderson-Dixon, who is both vertically and follicly challenged, described himself as ‘living proof that Snow White and Dopey had a love child’.
Tory housing spokesperson Grant Shapps is becoming something of a Closed Circuit regular. This week the honourable member for Welwyn Hatfield gets a mention for his inventive use of finger food at a soirée for hacks, hosted by his boss Caroline Spelman.
Commandeering a bowl of crisps, Mr Shapps proceeded to explain its relationship to his party’s council tax matching scheme to incentivise house building. Mr Shapps’s enthused explanation culminated in the line, ‘and then [shadow planning minister] Bob Neill comes along and squashes the whole lot’ as his colleague’s fist faux-crashed into the snacks.
Closed Circuit is pleased to see that we can all help homeless people by eating pies. Battersea Pie Station, in London, is donating 20 per cent of the profits from its new steak and kidney pie to homelessness charity Thames Reach.
The pie sold in the Covent Garden store is named ‘The Winstone’ after actor Ray. We assume this is merely a homage and that the hard man thesp is not among the ingredients. Priced from £5 the pies do, however, come with gravy.
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Tenants on introductory tenancies in Doncaster might have to live extremely static lives thanks to a stray comma in their tenancy agreements.
A section of the introductory tenancy agreements, which was placed on Doncaster Council’s website ahead of a council meeting, states that tenants: ‘Must not engage in activities, which are unlawful.’ Thus, on the face of it, banning tenants from taking part in any activity whatsoever - and making them illegal for good measure. Closed Circuit will be sure to report news of the first tenant to be evicted for making a cup of tea or returning a library book.
Help may be at hand for Communities and Local Government officials trying to figure out how to fulfil the government’s pledge to deliver 10 eco-towns by 2020. It turns out you can now buy a finished conurbation off the shelf.
There’s just one problem Closed Circuit can see. The developments by Plan Toys are apparently unsuitable for citizens under the age of 36 months.
Grant Shapps has taken a well-earned break from Tenant Services Authority-bashing to do his bit to expose the causes of the spiralling national deficit.
The shadow housing minister has conducted a sustained campaign to uncover the full extent of government spending on… pot plants and flowers. The transport department alone spent a whopping £90,820 on horticultural candy in the last full financial year.
That figure definitely puts the Communities and Local Government department’s £725.25 raid on the petty cash over 11 months in the shade.
A group of architects and surveyors asked to surrender their identities when taking pictures of the long-awaited Ferrier estate regeneration scheme in Greenwich came up with a novel reply.
‘I am Spartacus,’ the trio quipped one after another when a foreman working on the south east London scheme stopped and asked their names.
It’s unclear whether or not Greenwich Council bears any similarity to the Roman Empire, or whether the three were planning an unsuccessful rebellion against it. Togas and loincloths were, presumably, optional.
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Your home might smell of fresh hope, as 2009 ends and shiny new 2010 arrives. For most people, toast, perfume, washing powder and damp are the smells of the average British house.
Apparently, a survey by high street retailer Habitat has found, the smell of home sweet home makes people feel safe. So much so that one-third would like to take that lovely smell on holiday with them. Meanwhile, two in five avoid going to friend’s houses because of the stink.
We didn’t want you to come over anyway, actually. And Inside Housing Towers smells of freshly baked cake and newly cut grass, we’ll have you know.
Affinity Sutton’s finance director Mark Washer has cast further doubt on the credibility of City boffins who set credit ratings.
‘Standard and Poor’s looked at us once and said we were a bit long on social housing,’ revealed the incredulous housing association finance chief.
Perhaps it’s time to stop fretting over reports that the UK’s prized AAA rating is in jeopardy?
Glancing through the pages of Hansard, as Closed Circuit often does of a dark and rainy evening, we noticed that there is a high-profile applicant going through immigration at the moment.
General Pervez Musharraf apparently wants to stay in the UK, his native Pakistan not being very keen on having former dictators hanging around.
The government doesn’t comment on individual immigration cases but we’re pretty sure that he won’t be making his way up to Liverpool or claiming section 4 support - unlike the subjects of our news analysis this week.
And finally, some advice for those hoping to pick up a bargain in the January sales: head to Ireland.
‘Affordable housing for sale is so last year,’ Donald McManus, executive director of the Irish Council for Social Housing, told delegates at a recent Scottish housing conference.