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Playing politics

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A toddler was mistakenly invited to a housing strategy meeting in Northampton last week following a council bid to make meetings as diverse as possible.

Closed Circuit isn’t sure whether Oakley Barrett, who is 15 months old, would be particularly interested in changes to the council’s allocations policy and tenancy strategy - unless the reports were accompanied by rusks and a bedtime story.

Mary Markham, cabinet member for housing at Northampton Council, said: ‘As this was a complex administrative process, unfortunately, a mistake has been made and a child has been selected. This invite should have gone to Oakley’s parents.’

Sadly, the change of heart means the terrible state of many council-owned Wendy houses in Northampton is likely to remain unaddressed.

Closed Circuit last week attended an intriguing seminar organised by think tank Localis.

The session saw Tory policy chief Oliver Letwin and local government chair Merrick Cockell debate the finer points of localism.

Kate Davies, chief executive of Notting Hill Housing Group, was glued to her Blackberry throughout the hour-long session.

So what was Ms Davies, doing? Taking notes about localism? Emailing ideas to colleagues? Or was she tweeting the latest from Mr Letwin’s speech? Closer inspection revealed Ms Davies was actually playing solitaire.

Closed Circuit’s favourite story of the week comes from Ian Munro, chief executive of New Charter Housing Trust Group, at this week’s National Housing Federation conference in Birmingham.

On his way to a dinner in 2007 with Louise Casey, currently charged by ministers with improving the lives of 120,000 ‘problem’ families, Mr Munro revealed he was forced to stop en route to ‘rescue a child from a fountain in Hyde Park’.

‘I was a bit wet when I got there,’ he added. Closed Circuit hopes Ms Casey was suitably impressed.

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