Tag Archives: social housing

HOUSING CZAR ABDICATES

smith
Wolfie: in the news

The Reverend Rees’s highly regarded Cabinet Member for Housing has sensationally QUIT the council. Paul “Wolfie” Smith resigned from Rees’s cabinet on Tuesday and also QUIT as a councillor to take up a lucrative £90k (plus bonus) a year position as Chief Exec at Elim Housing Association. The resignation leaves the Reverend without a majority at Bristol City Council. 

According to social media, Wolfie was a great champion of social housing and has had some success over the last few years getting homes built and tackling homelessness. However, over the last year some increasingly erratic policies have emerged from Wolfie’s housing department where Jez Sweetland, who runs the Bristol Housing Festival and happens to be a prominent member of the Reverend’s Church at the Hope Chapel, Howells has become increasingly influential.

Harebrained initiatives emerging from Sweetland have included a plan to build 173 IKEA chipboard homes on the verge of the A4174 Airport Road and another madcap idea to build ‘Hope Rise’. Tiny modular flats for young people over the car park at St George Park. This week the council even started a queue jumping ‘super tenancy’ opportunity for these properties, directly offering a shared council home to applicants in exchange for voluntary work with vulnerable young people. A plan that is unlikely to comply with law.

Wolfie’s department also announced their intention last month to create the slums of the future. They will house 200 homeless people and families in the shoddily converted Parkview office complex in Hartcliffe. Homes that do not meet national space standards. The owner of the flats, Caridon, are also one of the country’s most notorious slum landlords.

Has Wolfie thrown in the towel? Has he quit while he was ahead? But how ahead was he anyway? Despite all the promises of council housing from the Rees administration and Wolfie’s regular assurances that his projections to meet a manifesto promise of 2,500 homes, 500 affordable, a year were ‘on target’, the stats say something quite different. In March 2016, there were 27,402 council homes in Bristol. By March 2020 there were 26,833. A net reduction of 469 council homes. 

Of course, Wolfie can’t be held to blame for the Tory ‘Right to Buy’ policy, which has led to this reduction in council homes. But he can be blamed for spending four years delivering half-arsed market solutions and supporting timid private sector responses to the city’s housing crisis. These solutions have simply failed to deliver and were never going to deliver the quantity of council homes required to turn around a housing crisis. 

Wolfie can also be blamed for entertaining Sweetland and his weirdo ideas for the last few years. The evangelical nutter is now left free to dominate the show with his Victorian Christian charity message and fill the city up with his cheap shit housing for the poor and vulnerable.

Are we in more of a housing mess than when Wolfie started? 

DEVELOPMENT NEWS

Another month and more greedy bastard builders are taking the piss out of our city by refusing to provide social and affordable homes on land owned by us and handed over to PRIVATE DEVELOPERS for housing by Bristol City Council who then grant them planning permission.

First, over to Speedwell where Crossman Homes, a chiselling shower of shit from Bath, are will be DEMOLISHING our amazing art deco swimming pool building and replace it with a HIDEOUS cell block of flats.

Out of the 31 flats being built on our land, Crossman Homes are providing only FOUR “affordable” – whatever that means – homes. Just 14 per cent of the total. Way below the council’s target of 40 per cent or around 12 of these homes.

Not surprisingly the Speedwell community is up in arms about this. Not only are they losing a popular and locally listed community building, they won’t even get any housing anyone in their community will be able to AFFORD. Another win for Bristol City Council?

Locally listed baths: will be demolished for flats

Meanwhile, over at REDCLIFF WHARF, council-owned and the last undeveloped site on the docks, another affordable homes FIASCO unfolds on this prime development land.

A special purpose vehicle – Complex Development Projects Ltd – quickly set up last December by businessmen from HERTFORDSHIRE in search of a fast, unaccountable buck are applying for planning permission to build a wanky mixed use development there. There’s lots of waffle (and cost) with this one about the need for a “HIGH QUALITY PUBLIC REALM” to appease Redcliff’s posh folk who want a poncy development that befits their status.

This means that, while over a MILLION QUID is poured into “public realm” improvements, granite suppliers and the provision of one tree, there’s sod all money left for affordable housing. In fact the dodgy developers are proposing NONE whatsoever!

Our brave council planners have rejected this LUDICROUS PROPOSAL out of hand, however, and told the developers that they must provide THREE one bed flats as affordable housing. Or about ONE FIFTH of the affordable housing requirement for the site.
Sod that. The council must take our land back from these dodgy developers and snooty wankers  immediately and use the site for 100 PER CENT SOCIAL HOUSING.

And, if the posh fuckers of Redcliff don’t like more council housing on their doorstep they can always fuck off to the Cotswolds.

WHAT SHOULD THE BRISTOL HOMES BOARD BE LIKE THEN?

The first thing to do with leeches is to CUT THEM OFF from their blood supply. However, the leeches are everywhere, even in the brain of the host, in this case the Bristol Homes Board (BHB). So here’s some steps to make sure we get decent social housing without getting ripped off.

1. Stop talking about affordable housing. FUCK IT OFF. It’s vague nonsense manipulated by private companies. To solve the housing crisis, WE WANT SOCIAL HOUSING at rents set by the council, not housing associations, not charities, not ‘property guardian companies’, not housing activists or Green Councillor Landlords in ACORN. Our money comes back to us, not into the pockets of private companies, NGOs or so-called charities.

2. No representatives or consultants from building companies, property speculators, letting agencies or landlords anywhere near the BHB. They are NOT FIT to sit at our public table or even communicate with us. Their interests are different to ours. When (and if) we want them, we’ll ask them to tender on OUR TERMS, begging at our table for contracts like the hungry dogs they are.

3. All tendering processes rigorously monitored by NON-PARTISAN legal and construction experts who are vetted with full disclosure of any business/financial interests. If they have conflicts of interest, consultancies, dodgy connections, blah blah, kick ‘em out. The role of these ‘chosen ones’, pure as the driven snow, is to protect the people from corruption and robbery. Give ‘em a big stick.

4. All proposed public projects and bids costed by these experts. As part of the tendering process conditions and rates of exploitation of workers in participating companies MUST be declared, along with PROFIT MARGINS.

5. Anyone or company discovered doing anything DODGY before, during or after the tendering process is immediately BANNED from any future tenders and legal action must follow. Thieves who take public money, whether corporate or individuals, must be PUNISHED SEVERELY to teach all the leeches to behave.

6. Housing quality, safety and longevity is central to social housing projects. Find building experts you TRUST; give experienced leftist brickies, roofers, electricians etc. the job of monitoring quality and all on-site activities. Employ POLITICALLY MOTIVATED surveyors, engineers and architects with no private consultancies who’ll take a job to serve the public for life. FUCK OFF ANYONE ELSE. Set up training schemes so the numbers of trustworthy people increases. Create a culture of serving the public rather than leeching.

7. Make the BHB, transparent and democratically accountable (sorry Marvin). LISTEN to people who already experience social housing, tenants associations etc. FIND OUT the problems. BE CLEAR about what you will deliver from your discussions with them. Invite them to observe meetings of the BHB. INVOLVE trade unions and fuck off any company that tries to impede union organisation.

The BHB should be building QUALITY SOCIAL HOUSING for the city. Then the cardboard shit that companies build for private sale becomes a joke and hopefully a thing of the past compared to the brilliant new social housing. The BHB should consist of non-compromised experts we can trust, our political representatives, bodies representing existing social housing tenants and trade unions.

And if the leeches start squealing because it’s getting too hot for them … it’s better they burn and not us.

The Committee for Public Safety