The Independent London Newspaper
22nd February 2017

NEW JOURNAL COMMENT: Council is right to crack down on the housing spivs

    Housing protesters outside the Town Hall last year

    Housing protesters outside the Town Hall last year

    Published: 2 September, 2016

    YOU may wonder why the government wouldn’t have been able to predict that by increasing the discount on a right-to-buy purchase to £103,000 there would be a rise in fraudulent deals.

    The point is that this was entirely predictable – and inevitable – but to the ideologically driven Cameron government it was of no consequence.

    A simple dictum drives the Conservative leadership today: if it is public it is bad, if private, good.

    Public housing – whatever form it takes – was in the sights of the Coalition government, and is inimical to the current ideology of Conservatism. 

    Will the May government take a different course? Sadly, all the signs are that, essentially, as far as housing is concerned Mrs May is at one with Cameron.

    The consequences are horrendous in social terms. Here in London the supply of housing is constrained to a degree that pushes up the price of property.

    A one bedroom flat in an old mansion block in Holborn costs £550,000 – in one of the new blocks being built in the Tottenham Court Road area they are priced as high a £750,000.

    The ample provision of low rented housing – whether council-owned or managed by housing associations – is the key to the problem. 

    Not only would it absorb the long queues of families on the council’s waiting lists but it would stabilise the price of property in the private market, if not bring it down.

    In the meantime, speculators will sponge off the shortage and hustle tenants – even those on benefit – to fraudulently buy council flats. 

    The new Housing and Planning Bill encourages spivery, and criminal behaviour. 

    The council has every right to crack down on the criminals.

    Learning from the past

    THE lessons of yesterday can point to a better future. The tributes rightly paid to the indomitable social activist Barry Sullivan as well as the former councillor Gloria Lazenby make this newspaper wonder whether lessons can be learned by today’s committed activists.

    Both Barry and Gloria paid no heed to the whims and prejudices of officialdom. 

    If they thought a wrong had been committed nothing could stop them from pursuing the truth – whatever the consequences to them.

    Will the new surge of young people who have joined the Labour Party, for instance, produce another Barry or Gloria?