Posted by: Alex Wellman21/12/2011
How many days left are there until Christmas?
If I am honest I find it hard to care about this time of the year. So small is my passion for Christmas, that I have taken on the role of office Scrooge.
Greetings are met with a grunt and my attempts to explain why I receive no joy from either receiving or giving a gift fall on deaf ears.
The only positive I get out of this time of year is knowing that you get a few days off work and you can sink a few pints of Guinness with your friends.
All that said, even I – the great Inside Housing grump – can see why people are upset with Brighton & Hove Council for its banning of festive decorations in communal areas.
The council, quite rightly, argues it is concerned that wreaths or other such decorations could pose a fire risk and wants them out of the way.
This is argument which must be taken seriously and needs proper thought attached to it rather than over the top reaction. We have all heard horror stories of blazes devastating homes and families due to various festive decorations. Any measure to reduce the risk of this happening again, must therefore be properly appraised.
There is no denying that the chances of a fire would increase with a plethora of clutter stuck outside homes.
But is this the situation that faces Brighton? That I do not know.
What we do know is that the council has flatly banned all decorations and in doing so has come across as a bit of a nanny authority.
Would it not have been better to engage tenants earlier in the year and begin a dialogue with them - informing them of the details, assessing desires and perhaps working up some kind of collective plan with the people who actually live in the homes?
Actions such as this outright ban can make a tenant feel unimportant or not in control of their own home or life - which is completely contradictory to the idea of social housing. It will also do nothing for tenant/landlord relations.
It’s a tough one to call as there are strong arguments on both sides. Brighton has decided to err on the side of caution. What would you have done?
From Can we fix it?
Alex Wellman takes a look at what’s going on in the social housing contracting sector