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News and Comment November 2021

Index: 2019202020212022

14 November (Part 5) - No bog or no shower? It’s your choice, take it or leave it

Daily MailThe roofless house story has fallen from the headlines but I am not convinced the situation has been completely resolved.

I have been poking my nose into where it may not be welcome and reviewed every piece of written and recorded information that has come my way. Some of it is conflicting but there is no obvious evidence that either Councillor involved has resorted to Craskisms.

Nicola Taylor the Labour Councillor for Erith has been getting her information directly from the young mother of three who fell victim to Bexley’s poor housing stock. She has to some extent been kept in the dark by Bexley’s housing managers who when chased for an answer to questions told her they had not replied “because you [a Councillor] may not understand it”.

The Cabinet Member took her information from the housing staff who are run off their feet following the staff cuts and their bosses who may be protective of their own backsides.

The further perusal of the evidence reveals that both Councillors worked together to find alternative accommodation once Nicola had impressed on the Chief Executive and the Cabinet Member on October 9th that there was a problem that could be ignored no longer. Councillor Taylor had referred to several similar issues at the Cabinet meeting on 26th July.

However there is no evidence that after new accommodation was allocated on the evening of 9th October anyone other than Nicola Taylor became pro-active. It was Nicola who had to ride to the rescue with payment for a taxi and it was remiss of the Council not to check if the boiler at the new address worked. It didn’t.

It was also remiss of them not to make a note of the tenant’s preferred method of contact. You’d think they would get that simple job right.

Depending on who you listen to the house is now repaired and reoccupied or still in need of a great deal of attention. A tradesman with a toolbag showed up there on Thursday to begin work so there is hope.

Trawling through old audio recordings proved interesting. Firstly there is the Council Leader and her infamous comment that Council housing is retrograde.

“Having our own housing stock is a retrograde step.”

The Cabinet Member’s response (audio clip below) to Councillor Taylorְ’s reiteration of her long held view that the homeless are placed in unsuitable accommodation was in retrospect misinformation whilst Cabinet Member Craske was just plain rude. Someone drawing a large salary must have Fullered poor Sue and led her up the garden path in much the same way that the Cabinet Member for Education was dropped into the deep end by his Departmental Head.

“I did not accept [when told at a previous Council meeting] that unsuitable housing was being offered. All property is inspected before use.”

When Councillor Gower became part of Bexley’s Cabinet I had high hopes that it would herald the end of its traditional dishonesty. I still do. Sue Gower will have to engage in the political knock about to maintain the credibility of her peers but I am sure that she remains happy to leave the misinformation machine in the capable hands of Cabinet Members Craske and Read. Maybe I am naive but I hope I am not. I much prefer to believe that when found lacking, Bexley Council’s senior managers’ principal interest will be themselves than to doubt the new Cabinet Member for Communities.

It’s not a difficult choice but who are you most likely to believe? Someone who tells a senior Councillor that they only allocate housing which is up to scratch or a Councillor who hired a taxi for a resident in distress to take her to a house with a working toilet, albeit one which did not have a working shower.


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