Posted by: Lydia Stockdale02/03/2011
The new series of Neighbourhood Watched started on BBC1 last night. Following the success of the last string of programmes, aired about 18 months ago, New Charter Housing Trust Group’s housing officers are back on our screens.
I visited the housing association’s headquarters in Greater Manchester in September in order to watch some of the filming (here’s the article I wrote at the time). Whilst there I met chief executive Ian Munro who said the decision to allow his staff to be filmed again was an easy one. ‘Last time it showed us getting to grips with situations and dealing with them,’ he said.
The documentary ‘is good for us and good for the sector,’ he added. It informs the public about what housing associations do, including how they work with the police to handle cases of anti-social behaviour in their communities, he said.
Last night’s programme followed enforcement officer Ivan Wright as he dealt with problem tenant Steven, who keeps numerous pets – including an iguana which he walked around his estate on a lead – despite the fact his tenancy agreement states he could only keep one animal.
Steven was being abusive to neighbours and had neglected to inform New Charter about his previous eviction from another social landlord’s property for similar behaviour. He’d also failed to recall his criminal record. The documentary film makers from independent production company Raw managed to show just how frustrating this situation was – despite being evicted once again, Steven still didn’t believe he’d done anything wrong.
Then there was Owen, a refugee from Zimbabwe who’d recently been given indefinite leave to remain in the UK. A teacher in his home country and a father of two, Owen found himself jobless and living in a shared room in a homelessness hostel and bidding for vacant properties on the choice-based lettings system with no success. Last night’s programme showed lettings manager Shonna Hildersley, who also appeared in the first series of Neighbourhood Watched, meeting with Owen and reassessing his number of points. More points meant he will stand a better chance of successfully bidding for a property and it turned out that he should have extra points because he’s sharing a room with somebody he’s not related to.
The programme also saw enforcement officer Linda Chapman handling an abandoned property. A specialist police search team had discovered a cannabis factory in operation in one of New Charter’s properties in Cavendish Mill in Ashton under Lyne. The man who was arrested was not on the tenancy agreement and viewers of last night’s episode watched as Linda tried to catch the tenant in the property as she needed to question him before she could seize the flat.
Eventually the flat was abandoned and the programme had a happy ending – it was handed over Owen, who by now had found a part-time job in a local confectionary factory. Finally having a place of his own was the icing on the cake.
So over to you – what did you think of last night’s programme? As housing professionals, are you happy with the way it portrayed the work you do?
If you missed last night’s episode, you can watch it on BBC iPlayer
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