Thursday, 30 October 2014

What did you think of Neighbourhood Watched?

From: Out of office

Twitter is abuzz with comments about last night’s Neighbourhood Watched, the second programme in the fly-on-the wall documentary series which follows housing officers from New Charter Housing Trust Group in Greater Manchester.

Last night viewers saw the housing association dealing with two young mums whose constant partying was causing havoc on their street, and re-housing Elsie and her husband Bill who had lived in their home for 50 years. Elsie, now in her early 80s could no longer climb the stairs and had to sleep in the living room.

If Raw TV, the company that produces the programme, the BBC and New Charter’s motivation for getting involved in the series was to inform the general public about social housing and the work of housing officers, then judging by viewers’ tweets, it certainly seems to be working.

@MuppetFitz asked ‘Do people actually live like this?’ while @weedydan wrote, ‘I’ve got an in growing toenail, can I have a free house please’.

Michelle and Laura, the two twenty-something neighbours, whose front gardens were meeting points for rowdy friends and family, caused outrage amongst viewers. The two women and their mates congregated and drank, argued and played loud music until the early hours of the morning… oh, and one of them nicknamed her son ‘Asbo’.

‘Jesus wept. Did she actually just call her kid “asbo”?!?!?,’ asked @RachGorst. ‘With a pet name like ASBO, this kid is definitely not going to end up prison when he grows up,’ added MuppetFitz.

‘Watching #neighbourhoodwatched jeez some families just don’t care. Why bother helping some people when they don’t wanna help themselves’, commented @Marc_Nelson. While @Dazzle3009 said, ‘#Poor poor kids on #neighbourhoodwatched and it’s our taxes that pay for those terrible parents free homes.’

The programme saw the two tenants being issued with acceptable behaviour contracts, which they broke. They were then issued with injunctions which placed a restriction on the number of visitors they could have at their homes.

The anti-social behaviour continued though, and in order to gain evidence they had breached the terms of their injunctions, New Charter’s tenancy enforcement officer Martin Bell hid cameras. These caught the necessary to arrest Laura, and eventually her home was repossessed. ‘Result!’ announced @SukkyCH.

On a more positive note, Twitter users were rooting for Elsie and Bill, who’d been waiting for more than three years to be re-housed in a property without stairs. ‘Really hope Bill and Elsie get the flat,’ wrote @pandahatjen,.

The couple were finally given a flat in residential village in Stalybridge. ‘Ah bless em - must be sad to leave their family home after all those years,’ tweeted @zandie.

So that was the general public’s reactions to the programme – but what did Inside Housing readers think of it?
Judging by viewers’ comments, do you think it portrayed social housing and its tenants in the way you would have wanted?

To see all Tweets about Neighbourhood Watched, click here.

Last night’s programme can be viewed on BBC iPlayer.

Read what Martin Bell and his New Charter colleagues have to say about dealing with ASB here.

 

Readers' comments (29)

  • Rick Campbell

    Elsie and Bill -- did they get their property because they were being filmed or was it all relived especially for the cameras?

    The rest of the programme will serve as a training video for a certain element of society showing them how to push the system to the limit.

    The programme will feed the nastiness of extremists who see social housing tenants as scum and freeloaders.

    On the plus side, New Charter Staff will be shown to be excellent ly sensitive and caring --- on that I shall refer you to the last phrase of my first paragraph.

    It ever so nice for the BBC to be demonising tenants and underpinning this odious government's espoused views and justifying their short sighted social housing strategy and vivtimisation of the vulnerable and/or social housing tenants, the majority of whom are not like the tenants portrayed.

    However, it may be the case that a different view of New Charter tenants may be shown in a future programme but the damage has already been done and I am certainly not holding my breath waiting for a more positive portrayal.

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  • Sidney Webb

    I did not watch this programme - not much time for TV - but it sounds as if it is simply another avenue for the demonisation campaign of the current government.
    What is sad is the number of people who will watch such propaganda and immediately believe it as presented, even though for most when they look out of their own window they see evidence to the contrary - but then that is the lever extremists have depended upon ever since the need to have to justify totalitarianism.

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  • Melvin Bone

    I did not watch it either...I'd imagine it got a second series on its entertainment value and not because it justifies totalitarianism...

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  • Sidney Webb

    Do you think if the Beeb tried to bring out a programme showing the excesses of the elite enjoying their bonus millions, or the lifestyle of the merchant bankers, or indeed the lifestyles of our cabinet, it would have got past the Minister for Truth?

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  • Melvin Bone

    PSR 'Minister for Truth'...

    You really are living in an Orwellian nightmare...

    Luckily its all in your mind.

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  • Sidney Webb

    I'm having a literary week - you elsewhere prematurily entered the musical week which is not for another fortnight.

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  • Rick Campbell

    Next week is Swimming Pool Party in Doncaster Week with free drinks supplied by Aunty Tom.

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  • I have alway defended the BBC but I start to think people who say we should not pay the BBC LICENCE anymore are right.
    Why should social tenants, who are the poorest section of our society, FORCED TO pay exactly the same price for their tv licence as a billionaire would? And then be portrayed like this?

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  • Surely any idiot can see the two female tenants needed help and guidance to keep their tenancy. I did not see in the film anyone from the social services or from the council or any charitable organisations, going to give these young tenants with so many problems - drink, hyperactive kids, etc -counselling or some kind of therapy or educational help..
    Why the housing officers did not contact or give them contacts of organisations who could help them to be more aware of their actions?
    Also why was not a transfer offered to them when the nieugbours started to complain?
    now way the two young ladies tenantss seemed to be able to mount a defence or even go to a Law Centre for advice... It looks to me this was an easy case for eviction and the Housing Association went for it.

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  • Jon

    @Anonymous | 10/03/2011 8:06 am

    "portrayed like this?" its not 'portraying, the individuals in the programme actually are like this - its a documentary, it 'documents' reality - suprisingly.

    If however you yourself are 'assuming' that all social tenants are like this then im affriad thats a fault of your own, not the programme.

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  • Jonathan H
    the programme only portrayed the housing officers side of things... all the cliches about housing being scarce, etc. etc. so they can justify evicting people (Ironically contrary to the Housing Manager stating "we are here to keep people in their homes" so can justify thier conscience for evicting people.

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  • Andrea

    I have not seen this series yet but as with most documentary / reality TV it will be HEAVILY edited and the time scales become very obscured. It in fact takes many months to secure ASB orders, then go through repossession proceedings, and requires large quantities of evidence in support of eviction. The telly make it look quick and easy. As for the elderly couple, again the timescales in moving them might have been far longer than shown. I will try and watch this on a PC somewhere though!

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  • Matt Murdock

    I found the programme quite interesting but of course some viewers are going to think that all tenants are like that. On the other hand we do have to deal with people like that and it's good to see those outside of housing being able to see what some tenants are like.

    On a practical note thought I have to ask what on earth New Charter thought they were doing with them? That's not how they work (or in this case don't). It's a million miles away from the way they were introduced in Islington where they actually attempted to deal with the behaviour rather than being used as just a stepping stone in the process as they were in the programme.

    I know that TV distorts things but they were conducted in the home (wrong) and the only agency involved was the housing officer (wrong). If you're going to use ABCs then at least do it properly so that they have a chance of changing behaviour.

    With regard to Bill and Elsie I suspect they filmed a lot of couples who didn't get what they wanted but used this one because they did.

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  • I posted a comment last week regarding New Charter and their well documented propensity for legal involvement. I recently helped a tenant appeal threatened possession proceedings for R/A's of £100, a debt accrued because of a HB admin error. The NC rep blithely quoting the 'huge waiting list' in defence, and how the tenant, who is the mother to a two years old child, needed to get her financial affairs in order. Talk about proportionality!! I also laugh inwardly at the exhaustive frontline work put in by the Housing Manager, a televisual performance surely in line for a BAFTA.

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  • It looks like the two evicted tenants were two laboratory mice. Housed there for no other purpose to demonstrate to the public how they can be evicted. And of course to demonstrate that this housing association "would not tollerate any antisocial behaviour." Was any insight given into how this housing association came to the conclusion that 2 tenants with their considerable problems got to be housed there in the first place? No.
    It's like housing a paedophile in an area with many children and then show the public how they went about evicting him.
    What a waste of money - but they go on getting their salaries anyway.

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  • So, hands up everyone who wishes to live on a sink estate with the neighbours from hell ---well, come on then!
    I grew up amongst such conditions and have no nostalgic memories ---nor do have the faintest desire to return.Much of the comment here smacks of middle- class angstand and wishful naivety.

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  • So, hands up everyone who wishes to live on a sink estate with the neighbours from hell ---well, come on then!
    I grew up amongst such conditions and have no nostalgic memories ---nor do have the faintest desire to return.Much of the comment here smacks of middle- class angstand and wishful naivety.

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  • Rick Campbell

    Very interesting comments indeed.

    As to it showing the staff's side of things -- the clue is in the programme name --- Neighbourhood Watched.

    I don't think we'll be seeing one with the title "Tenants Helped" or "Lovely Neighbourhoods" or "Neighbourhoods Improved" in the near future despite such things being very much in evidence.

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  • Rick Campbell

    Very interesting comments indeed.

    As to it showing the staff's side of things -- the clue is in the programme name --- Neighbourhood Watched.

    I don't think we'll be seeing one with the title "Tenants Helped" or "Lovely Neighbourhoods" or "Neighbourhoods Improved" in the near future despite such things being very much in evidence.

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  • Rick Campbell

    Very interesting comments indeed.

    As to it showing the staff's side of things -- the clue is in the programme name --- Neighbourhood Watched.

    I don't think we'll be seeing one with the title "Tenants Helped" or "Lovely Neighbourhoods" or "Neighbourhoods Improved" in the near future despite such things being very much in evidence.

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