The Real Reasons Why Broomhill Elderly Peoples Home (EPH)
Was Placed Under Occupation <
This statement refutes the spurious claim made by Director of Housing Cllr Paul Smith of Bristol City Council (BCC) in the Bristol Post, August 10 that the remaining guardian-tenants at Broomhill EPH were ‘standing in the way’ of the council’s noble mission – allegedly by occupying the building, preventing its demolition, and the building of 10 social housing units. This is a deceitful manipulation of the facts, which we will now present.
Following the crash of 2008 and subsequent austerity, many supposedly unviable BCC public buildings fell into disuse, including schools, care homes, leisure centres, fire stations etc. Later on BCC leased these buildings to two ‘Property Guardian Companies’ – Camelot and AdHoc, under the knowledge that these companies would, on a temporary basis, house renters (known under the legally ambiguous term of ‘guardians’) therein.
BCC then promptly forgot about the buildings, their occupants, and their original plans for demolition, while Camelot and AdHoc took advantage of the situation to make a fortune out of charging rent to hundreds of people priced out of Bristol’s private renting racket in sub-standard-to-outright-dangerous BCC owned properties.
However, following the Roynon v Camelot case in Feb 2017, which established that all guardians potentially had the full rights of tenants, BCC terminated its contract with both Camelot and AdHoc with effect from Christmas 2017, with the understanding that the companies would evict all residents by this date.
Points and Demands
It is in this context that we wish to make the following seven points:
- As owner of the properties concerned, Bristol City Council has a duty to properly re-house all the guardians it left to the tender mercies of Camelot and AdHoc. Because there was no provision made, despite assurances given by Cllr Smith to the contrary, for protecting all guardians during the transition back to BCC control. This is simply unacceptable and a blatant reneging of BCC’s word.
- Also the tenant legally evicted today was the whistleblower who first brought this scandal regarding Camelot’s behaviour out into the open so that BCC could take action against the corporate criminals operating on its property. Is it Cllr Smith’s moral duty to now wash his hands of him and let him be kicked out into the street, from a BCC owned property?
- In the case of the second tenant, she is a young woman who is recovering from a serious illness, and in addition she was kicked out illegally. Camelot are being told as a legal warning that she has a right to go back in as this goes to print. BCC simply cannot tolerate these cowboy evictions on its conscience.
- While some of the ‘guardian’ properties are clearly best demolished due to their age or unsuitability, in the current housing crisis it makes more sense to bring the remainder up to standard again and use them as temporary homeless shelters, but this time regulated under direct BCC control and not ‘leased’ out again to third parties of any description.
- In relation to point 5 above, Broomhill EPH was selected for occupation as being a prime example of such erroneous BCC policy. Broomhill is a relatively modern and sturdy building, yet is scheduled for demolition and supposed replacement by 10 ‘social housing’ units at some indefinite point in the future. Why is ‘cash-strapped’ BCC not questioning the time taken and money required for such a task, while the necessary repairs and refurbishing required for 40-50 quality units of homeless accommodation could be carried out in the building as it stands, and for just a fraction of the cost and time. Why is this not being done?
- Finally, under the 1996 Housing Act, in the case of a publicly owned building scheduled for demolition, if an evicted tenant has not made him/herself ‘intentionally homeless’, then the local authority that owns the building has the legal duty to assist him or her in finding alternative accommodation.
In addition, we make the demand that any properties that BCC keeps in operation as homeless accommodation must NOT be leased to either private profiteers or to the many so-called charities that use the discredited ‘guardian licensee’ contract or its equivalent.