Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Market rents for council housing?

We've noticed a puzzling contradiction in what Stephen Greenhalgh, the by now infamous Leader of H&F Council, has to say about rents for council homes such as ours. On the one hand, in the midst of a rather incoherent speech captured on film by the Guardian he acknowledges the prohibitive cost of renting in the private sector in this area:
..."private renting's £300 or £400 a week ... getting on the housing ladder's bloody difficult unless you're a millionaire."
At last! Something on which we agree. But without the swearing, no need for that Councillor. We teach our children otherwise.

Surely then, this revelation must have led him to the obvious conclusion: in order to promote truly mixed communities it's essential to continue providing relatively low cost social rented housing.

Yet in the document that outlines his chilling vision of the future for social housing, one of Greenhalgh's central proposals is to move social housing rents to market levels. In fact, he's so carried away with his big idea that in a truly inflationary fashion he moves in the space of a few pages from 'near market rents' to 'market rents', which are then touted shamelessly throughout the document. Probably on the grounds that if you say something often enough people may mistake it for truth.

So, at risk of pointing out the obvious, Mr Greenhalgh would like to charge people on our estate a rent of £300 - £400 per week.

Who could afford that? In what way would that help to fix supposedly 'broken' neighbourhoods? It would decrease opportunities to study, train or work and effectively cause rent poverty along the lines of fuel poverty with tenants spending vast amounts of their income on rent. Many people would be trapped on benefits (i.e. the tax payer would foot the bill) or forced to move out of the area.

Oh yes, now we see it, that's actually what they want, isn't it?

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Fame at last

It's heartening to see that our story is getting out there and intelligent observers of the situation here in H&F are drawing their own conclusions, not only about our plight but about the questionable activities of the Council in general. We always enjoy the musings of Shepherds Bush blog and never more than here and here.

Have a look at this article in the Guardian. Do make sure to read the comments too - they seem to arise from a wide political spectrum, to put it mildly! You might also like to watch this film made by the Guardian. Sadly Stephen Greenhalgh refused to be interviewed and instead behaved rather bizarrely on camera. In contrast, residents from our estate made their case well. We've heard that Hollywood is showing an interest....