Tuesday 17 August 2010


Of course it makes economic sense; of course it is the sensible, smart, financially clever thing to do. But it could kill someone...

Last month the Tories said that it would be their policy to move people out of under-occupied council houses and in to accommodation which was more suitable for them, in order that the larger properties could be used to better effect.

There was, said the Tories, a terrible shortage of council housing. They failed to mention that this was because all the decent stuff had been sold off by some Tory woman in the 1980s and that most of the remaining stock had over the years had to be knocked down as it was too dilapidated and badly constructed to save.

They failed too, to mention that because of the “right to buy” policy councils no longer built public housing and that this was why there was a shortage. It had clearly never occurred to Mrs Thatcher that there would still be poor people who needed council housing.

I suppose they might have mentioned that their political opponents, Labour, had been happy for that situation to continue and that, only in Scotland, where there was a break from the constant Tory – Labour roundabout, had the sale of council houses been stopped and the building of council houses been started.

So... now we come to a real life situation. Barnet council, a North London Tory borough has decided to evict Mr Edward Meakin from the house he has lived in for....wait for it....74 years.

Yes Mr Meakin went to live there with him mum and dad and siblings when he was 9 years old. In May his last remaining sister died leaving him living alone in a 3-bedroomed house.... so now the council has told him to leave.

Can you imagine the memories that, at 83, Mr Meakin has of his house? He was a child there; he played in that garden, then he was a “teenager” (although they didn’t call them that then).

He probably went away to war, or if not at least to National Service from that house and returned to it after doing his bit. He worked as a window cleaner from that house and then retired in that house. Over the years he grew middle aged, lost his mum and dad, grew old and lost his siblings.... Now he is an old man, and his memories centre around that house.

He doubts that he would last long in the flat they want to move him too. “I’ve got my garden and all my life here. Why do they want to take it away from me?” he said. “Why can’t they just leave me till I die?”

A spokesman for
Barnet Council (the one that lost £27.4m in the Icelandic banking crisis because they failed to follow the proper procedures when depositing the money) said that 3 bedroom houses were in short supply in the borough and while they sympathised with Mr Meakin they had to balance that with the needs of large numbers of people in the community.

I know that Mr Cameron wants people on lower wages to be able to move from town to town to chase the little work there is, and I realise that that requires the availability of council housing so that people can move within a week or so to suit the employers’ needs (lower level jobs usually require a relatively speedy start, sometime immediate!), but isn’t there a wee bit more to life than making sound economic sense?

Does no one in Barnet really worry that breaking this old man’s heart; tearing him from his house and from his beloved garden may kill him?



    From torys, not a chance.

    Want to bet this house will go to a middle class family who will buy it within the year, to sell at a nice profit so they can then afford to move to the area they really want.

  2. More baseless Tory-bashing.

    I grow weary of this nonsense.

  3. Baseless? Nonsense? Could you explain your reasoning?

  4. Yeah Dubbieside. I guess they can still buy their houses in England. A house like that will be a real scoop for someone. There must be very few of them left.

  5. Tris

    back in the old soviet days just after the revolution(whereby they shot all the conservatives Yay!!)

    Housing and living space was allocated on the size of the family..and now cameron/clegg have become latter day Bolsheviks well whatever next

  6. Why is it baseless Dean? It's true.

    No one foresaw the fact that houses would be too expensive even for middle class families to buy. Why?

    The policy has means that there aren’t enough houses; and in England there is no point in building them, because they can be bought... and all the decent ones are.

    So the poor have been left in the worst houses like the ‘grattes ciels’ of the inner city, or the skare blocks. No one wants to live in them.

    Why was none of this thought of?

    And why are 83 year olds being evicted from a house they have lived in for 74 years?

    Is that baseless Tory bashing?

    Let me add (and it was in the body of the text) that LABOUR DID NOTHING about it in 13 years of government and the LIBERALS ARE SAYING NOTHING about this. So, I’m bashing them all Dean.

  7. With you there Conan....

    BTW love the Secret Diary of Iain Gray!.... way to go Librarian!

  8. Niko....

    Wait till you see the Camegg version of the KGB...

    You may be first on their list for a wee visit at around 3 o'clock on a winter's night.

  9. Tris

    Labour may have done nothing to change tory policies as there was no difference between the torys and new Labour, but the real criticism must be for the useless shower who first introduced the flawed legislation.

    In itself there was some merit in right to buy, the big failure was the refusal, for right wing ideological reasons, to let councils use the money raised to invest in new social housing.

    If this money had been reinvested in modern energy efficient new homes the UK housing market would be in a lot better shape than it is today.

    Right wing tory crap created this mess, Labour did nothing, and the Lib Dems will do what they are good at, nothing.

    Baseless nonsense, thats your department Dean.

  10. Tris/Conan,

    You make a number of baseless claims, and I am really disapointed frankly.

    For example;

    " know that Mr Cameron wants people on lower wages to be able to move from town to town to chase the little work there is"

    Erm no. That is total rubbish. Cameron and the Tory-led coalition has sought to incentivise business to locate work into the hardest hit communities. So that they don't have to and aren't expected to "chase" work all the way to the SE/SW of England.

    That is why we have introduced the tax-intelligence policy; where special regions [most heavily hit] get tax cuts on business - so employment goes to the people. Not the other way around. I have pointed out this policy [among others] on this topic or related topics before, yet to deliberately ignore it. Why? So you can paint a frankly offensive picture of us evil, calculating Tories, forcing the poor into mass-exodus from their regions.

    Nonsense. Baseless rubbish.

    Another example is your assertion that the 'reason' for a lack of council houses is due to right-to-buy;

    "“right to buy” policy councils no longer built public housing and that this was why there was a shortage."

    You know damn well that there is a plethora of reasons for the lack of new built council houses since 1997. To seek to narrow the admittedly tragic lack of new council homes down to one Tory policy [since abolished in Scotland] is frankly absurd.

    "Of course it makes economic sense; of course it is the sensible, smart, financially clever thing to do. But it could kill someone..."

    Sorry? What? So we Tories are killing people now are we?

    The idea that this; admittedly sad and heart-wrenching; case where we are moving an old man out of a council house way-bigger than his own requirements will somehow "kill" him is unbelievable. Even for the most militantly anti-Tory opinionesta; it really takes the biscuit.

  11. No Dean. The Tories have said that people should be prepared to move to find work. They should not necessarily wait for it to find them. This has been discussed at length on the blog, because I pointed out that people with little money are not mobile like middle class, lawyers, doctors and solicitors. They can’t afford to have two houses; the jobs they go for don’t (like some middle class jobs) offer free accommodation while they sell houses and relocate their families. IDS said that people should be able to jump the housing list if they did take a job in another area.

    I recruit for companies which have weekly paid jobs on offer (not at the moment they don’t of course). When they do recruit, they are looking for people to start work next week usually. They are rarely expecting people who are going to work for them to have to give more than a week’s notice.

    What are the plethora of other reasons for their being no public housing? There may well be others. But if Mrs Thatcher hadn’t sold off the best of the housing stock there would not be a shortage now.

    Dean, if you are in your 80s and you have lived in a house all of your life and your joy is your garden that you have tended since you were a lad and suddenly you are told to go; not because you didn’t pay your rent; not because you’ve had wild parties and disturbed the neighbours; not because you’ve been selling drugs from the property, but because you got old and your family died.... what do you think the old boy will do... Start a new life on the other side of the town? Make new friends? Start a new garden?

    No. They are going to put him into a flat. With no garden. He’ll sit there all day. Away from his house he spent over 70 years in, in a place where his furniture won’t fit, his carpets won’t fit and he bloody well won’t fit.

    How long do you give him living like that?

    And no. I don’t believe the Tories are the only ones who would do this. Any number of trumped up little officials from the council who isn’t in that position and who’s granddad isn’t in that position would do it with ease, saying yes, its very sad but rules and rules and people should move over to make room for the next generation.

    Any new Labour with all its political correctness about “thought showers” and equal numbers of men and women and gays and blacks and Asians and people from Antarctica wouldn’t be any better, because they are a bunch of unfeeling twats too!

  12. It may be, Dubbieside, that it is a worse sin to perpetrate the crime than to do nothing about rectifying it... but the difference is small.

    And no one allowed the money to be used to build more houses. That was criminal.

    They could only have allowed that, of course, if the new houses had been excluded from the right to buy for 20 or 30 years, so that the public got the benefit of them before they were snapped up to make profit.

    The government in Scotland has done the right thing. At long last a government that works for the people. Thank heavens. But there is very little money to build council houses, and soon there will be even less I imagine.

    My point is that public housing is there for a reason, and that reason is not speculation. OK. In some cases people managed to get out of the bit and lived in their homes. But in many cases they were bought as speculation. There are several cases in my own family where that happened, and a considerable amount of money has been made.

  13. Dean you are trying to rewrite history for as I remember the money for these sold council houses was sent direct to the treasury not to the local council coffers.

  14. Aren't we who live in Scotland glad that we are getting rid of RTB completely, and Councils (and Housing Asociations) are building houses again which will NOT be sold off for greedy relatives to make a killing on?

    Thanks again to the Scottish Government (2007-11) and no thanks to the Labour/LibDem coalitions of 1999-07.

  15. Cynical.

    I don't know where the money went. I'll leave Dean to answer that. I just know it wasn't spent on housing.

    That's why we only have hell-hole dumps left for people to live in if they come to the town from outside and can't afford private housing.

  16. Aye William. if Labour gets back in, do you think that part of iain Gray's sratagy for co-operation with Mr Cameron will be to reverse the SNP's law and to stop the building of council housing in Scotland?

  17. Tris Dean has gone through an education system that teaches them how to pass exams which he is still of the belief that the Tories can defy the forces of nature. Off topic we'll soon be able to drink and drive if the development of whisky waste gets financial backing and Alex is winding up at long last. http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=490:first-minister-calls-for-north-sea-taxation-to-be-devolved&catid=6:leisure&Itemid=9

  18. cynical: This is excellent news. I've not been watching tv, but one of the commentators on the story says it hasn't had any coverage in the media...

    We must be the only country in the world that doesn't bother to cover its head of government's foreign visits on its 6 o'clock news... oh wait. We don't have a 6 o'clock news, do we!!.

    I think it's high time Scotland stopped paying the TV tax.

  19. Stopped watching TV 6 years ago so I could annoy Dean full time.Lol

  20. Cynical,

    lol! I sometimes ask for it don't I?


  21. Tris,

    Ah, so the Tory pledge to incentivise businesses into the hardest hit regions isn't to take work to the people rather than the other way round? Nonsense.


    So you are maintaining that it is an acceptable use of a three+ bedroom council property for one individual to live there alone? When there are mothers, and kids on the waiting lists; some of them desperate for a council house big enough for her brood after fleeing an abusive husband?

    Priorities. I put the needs of mothers, fathers and children ahead of a garden-oh-so-nice.

  22. Gawd your a heartless man Dean. The Queen has plenty of spare rooms lets start by filling them up before kicking harmless old men into box room flats. How many bedrooms do you have?

  23. Dean:

    It will be nice if some businesses are incentivised to move out of London to other places, but it is hardly likely to happen overnight and I'm holding my breath for loads of jobs. Did IDS say or did he not say, that people had be prepared to move and that council houses should be made available for them?

    As for the case in point, listen to yourself. The man's never actually known living in another house. His life is in that house.

    Jeez, you work with old people. You must know what their possessions and their memories mean to them. They don't have much future; you can't take away their past.

    You must know how many of them fail completely if they have to make a new start... and after 74 years... sheesh!

    As Dubbie says, the place will probably be sold off in a couple of years and someone make a HUGE profit on it. Quite possibly a council worker will see a brilliant opportunity there. It happens!

  24. "The man's never actually known living in another house. His life is in that house."

    So the mothers and kids desperate for a suitable home to live in can simply wait in that one room flat then eh?

  25. Right to buy was a big con!

    People have always had the right to buy it is called the private sector.

    Of course the people that were living in the council houses, my family included, were there because we couldn't afford to buy.

    The council houses were built to replace the private slums that ripped off the poorer people prior to that, to give them a decent secure place to live.

    The people in these council houses should never have had the right to buy them - just where would they have been living otherwise.

    The people that have bought them have just stolen the houses from the future generations that will be in the same position of not being able to afford to buy.

    The biggest joke is that a hell of a lot of these houses have now been bought up by the private sector as buy to let where the rents are being paid by the tax-payers.

  26. How many houses does Cammy need Dean 3 is it plus a tied one isn't life wonderful in Tory fantasia land called the UK. and don't say he got his hands dirty in aquiring them.

  27. You just don’t see it Dean, do you?

    He’s old he can bugger off and let the new lot in.

    If Thatcher hadn’t sold off the council houses this would not have happened. As it is Mr Meakin, by his own admission, has only a few years at most left to him. I wouldn’t want to be the one that chucked him out of his family home.

  28. Billy: Brilliant post. Thanks mate.

    I'll just add that this idiotic rush to make people home owners is a peculiarly Anglo thing. Far fewer continentals buy their houses than here. Indeed in Scotland far fewer people buy houses than in England.

    It is foolish for people with small or undependable incomes to buy houses that they really can't afford, and worse still cannot afford to maintain. It has been a disaster for many who have found themsleves with massive bills for re-roofing or re-wiring or simply paying for damage or wear and tear.

  29. cynical.. There are two tied ones. The weekday house in Downing Street, and teh country estate at Chequers complete with shoot...

    Another diabolical waste of money regardless of which party is in residence, given that there are poor families just waiting for old people to die or be evicted so that they can find a place to rest their weary heads....

  30. PS cynical: do you have to buy a licence to annoy Dean? :¬)

  31. Tris

    A bit like the right to buy, there is actually some merit in this policy, in that properly implemented it could open up larger council houses to large families.

    If there was a proper scheme to assist people who wish to move to a smaller council house, and financial assistance to help them with the move, then all in all it could be a worthwhile scheme.

    However as with anything the torys touch it is the implementation of these policies and the heartless heavy handed tactics that end up making them and their policies so despised.

    As always the torys know the price of everything and the value of nothing. What do we need to do to convince people the only way to get rid of tory policies we do not want is to end this useless union.

    P.S. A license to annoy Dean would be better value that our supposed public service broadcaster.

  32. If a license to annoy me was categorised as 'public service broadcasting' it will cost you all!

  33. Dubbs...

    I can see merit in helping people who are in a big house that they no longer want, or can no longer afford to heat, to move into something smaller. Of course that's an excellent idea.

    Many people would probably be happy to do that, if they could get a bit of a hand, because carpets and curtains would need to be bought, sometimes a new house with rooms the size of matchboxes is far too small for massive furniture bought in the 60s for a much bigger house.

    And I’d support doing this for people who wanted it, and who genuinely couldn’t afford it. I know an old couple (of sisters) who recently had to do it as one could no longer manage the stairs, and they got a hand from their family to buy new, much smaller furniture, and carpets and curtains and stuff.

    But this bloke doesn’t want it. He wants to stay in his old house, [perhaps because of his much loved and well tended garden. But they are going to evict him.

    Of course, it’s possible that all this publicity will change their minds. (I mean in the Daily mail, not Munguin’s Republic, before you start thinking I’ve got a bit above myself!!)

    The best way to deal with this shortage is to set builders on to build some new houses, tout de suite.

  34. Here's a tener then Dean!!!


  35. Mr Meakin has been subsidised by the State for the past 74 years. The tax payer owns his house, not the tenant. They're not throwing him out onto the street, simply trying to rationalise their accommodation situation.

    And as for selling off council houses, anyone who bought their council house at least has something they can sell when they retire. Had they been paying rent they'd have nothing to retire on.

  36. The state doesn't subsidise council housing. It hasn't since Mrs Thatcher's day. Rents are commercial level.

    Good for the buyers. Pity about the people who could afford the purchase price or were ideologially opposed to denuding the state of its housing stock.

    Do you ever put yourself in other people's shoes and wonder how it would feel... Try it, just for a monment....

    Think... what if that was me, and all my family were dead, and I was getting to that age too... adn they wanted to shift me out of my house becasue it made economic bloody sense.

    How would I feel?

    How would I feel if it was my dad or grandad?

    But then there are people who don't give a shit as long as it makes economic sense.

    I take it you are OK for your retirement