Housing Issues and Dog stuff

Community & Housing Scrutiny Committee met on 14th September and the meeting progressed well without any Executive input. We debated the hard facts of the escalating cost of living and cuts in benefits with more promised. Tenants are facing difficult times and unusually, politics entered the meeting over reduced benefits. Members of this Coalition were accused of wanton cutbacks Others argued it was the result of a toxic legacy of the previous administration that brought the country’s economy to the brink of bankruptcy. With the Press in attendance political show-boating is always irresistible. The real issues, regardless of who is to blame is that tenants face the problem of sliding in and out of work and risk falling behind with rent payments and all those stressful consequences. The “Council’s Million pounds in arrears” on the front page of the Leader made uncomfortable but accurate reading.

Despite the challenging climate, Head of Housing, the housing team are putting considerable support into helping families who are falling into arrears or have debt problems. Staff are keen to prevent arrears escalating and and people falling into homelessness. The message is to offer help before the wheel comes off in vulnerable people’s lives. Tenants who abuse the system and just refuse to pay produced lively debate. Getting a court order does not work as the amount paid back is so small that the debt will never be cleared in a life time. Some members were keen to evict the serious non-payers and put them in down-graded housing as the Authority cannot leave them on the streets. The duty is to house them. No decision was reached but we agreed to trial an experiment suggested by a senior Housing Team Officer. At least, we are doing something in an attempt to stop tenants “taking the Mickey”.

THE SAGA OF POSITIONING A DOG POO BIN!

Chuffed I had succeeded in getting another bin for the Level Road play area I was then hit with the problem of where it should go. The site I suggested soon produced anxious phone calls that it was not welcome there as the smell would invade gardens. Residents want it deep in the park on the circular walk but that’s unfair to the collectors who do not have the luxury of a breeze across the park. Time is money and with more bins being rolled out, pick-up operations must be slick. Having given up on finding a site to meet all needs, I’ve handed the problem of where the new bin should go to back to Hilary. She is the the officer i/c bins and her expertise will prevail.

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