Posted by: Closed Circuit11/02/2011
Closed Circuit managed some quality surveillance in the lobby of London’s City Hall this week.
Newsnight Rottweiler Jeremy Paxman was spotted pacing the floor impatiently, accompanied by an increasingly edgy researcher. With Mr Paxman evidently unused to be being kept waiting, the atmosphere took a turn for the worse when an oblivious receptionist approached to ask, ‘Sorry, where did you say you were from again?’
Fortunately, the hapless staffer was saved from the newsman’s full wrath by the timely arrival of London mayor Boris Johnson bellowing, ‘Jeremy, how are you?’.
Could the housing sector be harbouring the answer to the nation’s - perhaps even the world’s - economic woes?
Care and repair guru Keith Simpson, business director of consultancy Just Housing, told Closed Circuit he was paid $900 (about £560) by a hedge fund manager seeking advice on where to invest in social housing.
During a two-hour meeting Mr Simpson counselled the financier to avoid Connaught shares, then trading at around £4 each. Alas he ignored this expensive advice, bought into the soon-to-fail contractor, ended up selling his share for a £70 million loss and was promptly sacked.
So the government is to rename the ‘shared room rate’, a form of housing benefit, as the ‘shared accommodation rate’.
Announcing the change at last week’s British Property Foundation residential conference, welfare reform minister Lord Freud got all misty eyed about his salad days. ‘I had an apartment so I slept on the sofa and my chum slept in the bedroom,’ the Tory peer revealed.
By pure coincidence, Closed Circuit unearthed the following BBC interview with Richard Blakeway in 2008. ‘I spent three months sleeping on a mate’s sofa in the summer of 2001, after I graduated from university,’ said the London housing tsar. ‘He’d just bought a first time buyer’s flat in Limehouse Basin and I colonised the living room. There were no curtains, and the balcony was above a 24-hour bus stop.’
Clearly his mate wasn’t much of a ‘chum’ or he’d have got the bed.
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From Closed circuit
Gossip, rumour, and stuff that amused us.