All posts from: December 2010
Consultants might not have as much work as they are used to right now, but that has not dented their sense of humour.
In what would appear to be a Christmas cracker, Campbell Tickell sent out an email entitled ‘season’s greetings’ which featured a recruitment advertisement with a difference.
North Pole Enterprises is after an assistant creative director - and along with experience at a senior level and an understanding of strategic issues would-be applicants are advised of the need to have a ‘strong liking for mince pies’.
CVs should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org (so, that’s what he does nine to five between Christmasses) and due to ‘postal unreliability in the North Pole’, Campbell Tickell recommends jobseekers email their applications.
Festive fever has spread further afield than the North Pole. It has even caught on at Inside Housing HQ.
Senior reporter Isabel Hardman and events director Sarah Payling this week donned an elf costume and a snow-woman outfit respectively and made their way to Liverpool to hand out around 90 hampers to vulnerable and especially responsible tenants of South Liverpool Housing.
Chartered Institute of Housing president Paddy Gray joined them dressed as a snowman (naturally) - as did SLH chief executive Julie Fadden, who gamely donned a Christmas pudding outfit.
Hard-hitting, multi-award winning journalist Ms Hardman tweeted that she was suffering abuse at the hands of children who were mortified that, at 5’11 tall, Santa’s little helper was, well, not that little.
What a difference a year makes. In 2009 the Legal Services Commission was busy extolling the benefits of legal aid as part of its 60th year anniversary.
Poignantly, the LSC highlighted how legal aid made possible the inquest into the 1968 Ronan Point tower block disaster, which claimed four lives.
The commission appears to have somewhat changed its tune for 2010. Tenants in the Marie Curie block in Southwark have just been turned down for financial assistance to help them take part in the inquest into the Lakanal House fire, in which six people died.
One homelessness charity has an extra problem to deal with this year. A Brussels sprouts crisis.
Leslie Morphy, chief executive of the appropriately named Crisis at Christmas, revealed at its parliamentary reception last night that there is a shortage of the festive vegetable due to frosts.
Every year the charity opens centres to give people somewhere warm to go and food – including Christmas lunch. But this year sprouts could be missing from the menu.
Ms Morphy called for anyone who knew of any Brussels sprouts providers to come forward. Although, Closed Circuit wonders, given that the sprout is something of an acquired taste, would its absence be such a problem? Perhaps people would be happier with peas, or green beans?
What does Inside Housing have in common with The Sun?
A lot more than we thought according to one web reader who was either titillated or outraged (it’s hard to tell) by the photography accompanying last week’s interview with shadow communities secretary Caroline Flint.
The anonymous reader commented that IH’s snaps of a tastefully (and fully) dressed Ms Flint constituted ‘venturing into page 3 pornography’. The critic went to on to describe the apparently seductive shots: ‘As a come on, we get a full three-quarter shot on the front teaser page and then for lead pic here there’s a super close-up with the subject giving her best come hither look.’
Ms Flint, who famously resigned as Europe minister claiming former PM Gordon Brown made her feel like ‘window dressing’, would likely be especially perturbed by our observer’s bizarre conclusions.
Imagine properties packed full of eastern Europeans cooking on work surfaces, prostitutes and dodgy dealings in brown envelopes.
If there was a strong argument for taking repairs and maintenance in-house, this, from Direct Works Forum chair Keith Simpson, was a pretty colourful one.
Talking at last Friday’s RAMSUM conference in London, Mr Simpson was adamant that repairs should be carried out by in-house direct labour organisations rather than being outsourced. Unsurprisingly his comments provoked anger from the floor. Delegates were quick to point out they had never seen prostitutes in their properties nor brown envelopes exchanging hands. But Mr Simpson must have convinced some - a show of hands revealed a significant majority believed maintenance should remain in-house.
If you’ve noticed the perennially peppy Grant Shapps stifling the odd yawn of late, blame Big Ben.
According to The Telegraph, the housing minister has started bedding down in his Westminster office when working late, only to have his sleep broken by the regular chimes of the famous bell. The paper reports that Mr Shapps has set up a makeshift bed at work, since new rules on MPs expenses only allow hotel stays in exceptional circumstances.
Social landlords like to pride themselves on the good design of their properties, so it was a little disconcerting to discover at last week’s Northern Housing Summit that not everyone shares this view.
Host Simon Fanshawe was chairing a discussion on the future for housing and regeneration when he let slip his own opinion.
A member of the audience asked what developers should focus on to ensure homes are well-designed. Passing the question on to a panel of distinguished heads of regeneration, architects and academics, Mr Fanshawe felt he needed to translate things a little. ‘What she means,’ he said, ‘is will they just put up a load of sh*te?
‘Oh come,’ he added, as the audience rustled in shock. ‘Everyone knows that’s the policy of a lot of district councils whose names we all know.’ Given the audience, let’s hope the culprits weren’t northern councils.
Calling all Tenant Services Authority staff - or, in fact, whoever gets new chief Claer Lloyd-Jones in the office secret Santa. Might Closed Circuit be so bold as to suggest you buy the boss a dictionary?
In a recent interview (see next week’s mag for the full story), Ms Lloyd-Jones got a little muddled while describing the pre-election ban on officials talking to the press. ‘Purgatory, is that what it’s called?’ she queried. Perhaps she meant purdah, CC proffered. ‘Whoops!’ exclaimed the boss. ‘Well, it feels like purgatory.’
The reputation of the Tenant Services Authority has taken a battering from housing minister Grant Shapps.
But now the regulator is being wound down and the Homes and Communities Agency is taking over much of its role, one would hope that accusations of incompetence will be a thing of the past.
We have already heard that there have been some teething problems. Last week the TSA sent out an email with a letter from the chief executive of the TSA Claer Lloyd-Jones and HCA chief executive Pat Richie about the regulation of social housing providers - only they didn’t quite manage this. An hour later, it was realised that the accompanying letter was not attached to the email.
‘It doesn’t bode well if they can’t even send emails with any competence,’ grumbled one housing boss.