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Closed circuit

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A Portsmouth politician took a bone-chilling approach to improving local housing earlier this week.

Steven Wylie, Pompey’s cabinet member for housing, braved the cold and installed himself in an armchair in the city’s main square to promote his landlord accreditation scheme which aims to push up private-rented sector standards. Mr Wylie’s ‘temporary bedsit’ came complete with a house plant and TV, enabling him to keep up with the most shocking slide in standards of all - Portsmouth FC’s ongoing spiral towards administration.

Readers concerned housing minister John Healey doesn’t have enough on his plate will be pleased to hear he has been given a new role - sorting out the nation’s pubs.

Prime minister Gordon Brown is so concerned about the demise of the local community boozer, that he has asked Mr Healey to lead a ministerial team responsible for devising a support package for recession-hit pubs.

Whether this honour has fallen to the housing minister because he a) likes a pint, b) is one of the few ministers anyone would go for a pint with, or c) has nothing else to do, is unclear.

Closed Circuit reckons the best way forward may be to combine the minister’s various roles. Surely unravelling the housing revenue account subsidy system would seem more straightforward after a few pints of ale?

Iain Duncan Smith’s audience had just sat through a somewhat excruciating exchange between Chartered Institute of Housing president Howard Farrand and an actor purporting to be Charles Darwin (about which, the less said the better).

So when the former Tory leader took to the podium at last week’s CIH presidential dinner his audience was more than eager to hear anything that might wipe embarrassing memories of what had just gone. Alas, their goodwill was short-lived as the man responsible for directing Conservative Party social policy launched into a no-nonsense critique of low-income families, culminating in the assertion that the most vulnerable social tenants are breeding tomorrow’s criminals. Mr Darwin was unavailable for comment on IDS’s alternative evolutionary theory.

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