All posts from: January 2011
Traditionalists might argue there’s only one way to spend your Friday lunch break: tucking into a parcel of fish and chips.
Not so for staff at the Chartered Institute of Housing where, as Closed Circuit discovered on a visit to its Coventry HQ last week, Friday is yoga day.
A meeting room is cleared to accommodate yoga mats and an instructor is drafted in to help CIH employees connect mind, body and soul.
Many of the women in the office are now yoga enthusiasts, but they’re having trouble convincing their male colleagues of the benefits of the ancient practice. Currently, the workout is a women-only activity. Perhaps shaking salt and sprinkling vinegar is the men’s preferred form of exercise.
Even the most experienced housing officers admit you never really know what awaits behind closed doors.
When Closed Circuit joined Glasgow Housing Association for an early morning drugs bust last week, GHA staff thought they knew exactly what they would find: heroin. Using intelligence gathered from a pilot scheme in which 15 Strathclyde police officers were seconded to GHA to help tackle anti-social behaviour, the door of the house in question was smashed down in the hunt for narcotics.
They didn’t find what they were looking for. Instead they uncovered an armoury of 11 vicious weapons: axes, machetes, hatchets, meat cleavers, switch blades, kitchen knives and even nunchucks.
This, combined with the CCTV camera in the hallway and a wooden barricade on the inside of the door, suggests the tenants were wary of receiving unwanted guests. Indeed, the suspects admitted they were relieved it was the police breaking down their door and not rivals who might be equally ruthlessly armed.
What do Shirley Bassey, Vivienne Westwood and Banksy have in common?
Turns out pollsters Ipsos Mori used a recent office revamp as an excuse to rename their meeting rooms after famous Brits, the songstress, fashion designer and artist included. Last week Closed Circuit only just resisted the temptation the grab the bright pink feather boa festooning the wall in ‘Shirley Bassey’ and belt out Hey Big Spender.
Leading housing unions Unite and GMB were left out in the snow when David Cameron invited other unions for a cup of tea at Number 10 last month.
A list of the prime minister’s guests, leaked via social networking site Twitter, was ominously lacking in members from the two esteemed bodies, despite members from Unison, Prospect and the TUC enjoying a Christmas cuppa and a biscuit behind the famous black door.
Closed Circuit can only speculate why Mr Cameron was unwilling to entertain these organisations - and would have done anything to be a fly on the wall during the meeting.
Here’s your starter for 2011: when was London last named Middlesex? When did Westmorland exist as a county? Or did Merseyside not exist but was part of Lancashire?
Islington Council’s latest under occupation magazine, Your Move, is using a soft-focus, pastel-coloured map - circa 1970 - depicting Britain’s historic counties to entice its tenants to move.
‘What county would YOU like to move to?’ it asks. Its target is older tenants looking to downsize - maybe these are the names they’ll remember? Or is it another boundary reorganisation to disappear the under occupiers? Answers, please, to be sent to Cumberland - it’s on the map, next to the black hole.
If 2011 is to be the year of austerity proper, then the Communities and Local Government department allowed itself a final hurrah as 2010 drew to a close.
‘We should not allow politically correct Grinches to marginalise Christmas,’ declared planning minister Bob Neill, when, in a rather unfestive dig, shadow communities secretary Caroline Flint asked parliament how many Christmas parties and drinks receptions the CLG planned to host last month.
Still, CLG Christmas sounds like an austere affair: a single reception, with staff paying for their own Christmas lunches (big society and all that…). In contrast to Labour’s £1,037 CLG Christmas tree in 2009, Mr Neill said the taxpayer paid nothing for the coalition’s tree. Likewise, the departmental card was sent electronically ‘at no cost to the taxpayer’. ‘We will ensure that the Right Hon. member is included on the distribution list,’ Mr Neill assured Ms Flint.