Mistaken impressions are my theme this week, starting with Doctor Bloody Jiminez of Guys Hospital.
Some mistake surely?
I finally caved in to Frazzles nagging on Tuesday and went to the ENT department of Guys to find out why I snore. The doc asked me if I stopped breathing when I was asleep and I replied “No but I think Frazzy wishes I would”.
He then proceeded to stick something up me nose, something down me gob before pronouncing that there is nothing wrong with my various pipes. My relief that surgery wouldn’t be necessary was soon overtaken by the shocking true reason for my snoring…..I’m FAT apparently.
And not just overweight. The height and weight chart put me on the border of OBESE!!!! He said dismissively “Oh its just a chart”, if its just a chart why frigging mention it??????
The picture that accompanies my Newsround was taken last year. Do I look OBESE???? Bloody quack! No wonder the government are closing down the NHS if they keep making these mistaken impressions
Similarly deluded are the residents of Devon village Silverton, who I read about in the Telegraph this week, an unexpected and humorous piece of reverse Nimbyism down in darkest Devon.
The good people of the village (Population 1905) complained about bad behaviour and the Police created a Section 30 dispersal area notice to stop village yoof gathering and causing anti social behaviour.
These dreadful teenagers, something needs to be done!
However, now the good burghers of Silverton have realised that the measure has resulted in the village being known in the district as the ‘ASBO village’ which they are worried will have a knock on effect to their house prices so they are now reversing their previous outrage and defending the kids, saying they aren’t that bad. You have to laugh.
Its funny how different communities interpret different behaviours
I spent 8 years living in Taunton and when I arrived in 2001 I was amused to see a headline in the Taunton Times complaining of bad behaviour on an estate where teenagers were “Practising their skateboards after dark and swearing” Bless!
And my favourite was when the now defunct Taunton Times, who had a bee in their bonnet about street crime, ran a front page picture of a man with a black eye and the headline “Where will this madness end?”
Try living in Peckham. If you look on the Police crime map Peckham has little street assault crimes but when you live here, anyone will tell you that people just don’t bother reporting it. I would still rather live here than there. You can take the boy our of London etc…..
Shapps’ new tool
Staying with ASB, Grant Shapps has been working with the Chartered Institute of Housing in the creation of a new tool for social landlords to tackle the problem. The Community Harm Statement which has been successfully piloted in a number of areas
It is a statement that is used when applying for proceedings in court that formalises the way information is presented and encourages judges to look at the wider effects of a range of behaviours not just the fact that the tenants have breached nuisance grounds for possession.
Speaking to 24 Dash Chief Exec of the CIH, Grainia Long said :-
“It is an opportunity to give communities a stronger voice in the judicial process. Anti social behaviour has such a detrimental affect on communities, the impact of last summer’s riots are testament to that, and until now the voice of the community hasn’t been put forward in the courts”.
Don’t get me wrong. ASB is a problem for communities that needs tackling but I am uncomfortable with Ms Long’s statement in linking a once in a generation event like last summer’s riots with general ASB. It seems as if the riots are being used as political capital to usher other things through.
Its like using world war 2 as an example to justify clamping down on a Saturday night pub fight.
And on the subject of further misguided perceptions I’ll turn to a strange but intriguing development on the criminalisation of squatting.
Many of you will have known about this doing the rounds for over a year now. [For example see this post from last year Ed] Forcing through new and actually un-needed legislation in an attempt to demonise another group of unpopular whipping-boys, that is in actuality a smoke screen to clamp down on public protests.
The Guardian’s Shiv Malik writing last Friday did some digging about the cost of operating the new law and puts forward some surprising figures highlighted by a report produced by the Squatters Action for Secure Homes.
The SQUASH report says:-
“The government has seriously underestimated the financial implications of clause 136 by failing to quantify some of the key and inevitable costs of criminalization, such as increased take-up of housing benefit and homelessness rehabilitation.
Using government data … we calculate that the true cost to the taxpayer of criminalising squatting in England and Wales could reach a shocking £790m over five years,”
They estimate that people squatting unused buildings saves between £36 and £90 million a year in housing benefit alone. The report also points out that if squatting is criminalised then the costs of evicting will get passed on to the Police, adding even more to the overall costs.
Lets remind ourselves that Squatting homes that people live in is already a criminal offence and it has never been a massive or widespread problem, despite the screaming voices of the tabloids. The vast majority of squatting is in unoccupied buildings that have often been earmarked for demolition in the future and aren’t being used by other people.
For many squatters it is a moral choice they make utilising idle properties they see as a form of recycling and they aren’t all drugged up tree-hugging nutbags. Several squats around the country have very strict community rules. One large squat I know in London that has been around for years will not allow residents to be on benefits, they have to be self supporting.
So there you go, that’s my third example this week of mistaken impressions and the utilisation of popular community demons to achieve other ends
I actually had a fourth example to tell you about but obviously being so FAT, as pointed out by Dr Bloody Jiminez, I am too exhausted from the effort of typing to carry on. [Never mind Ben, you're not the only one ... Ed]
Ben Reeve Lewis
Ben’s runs Home Saving Expert, where he shares his secrets on defending people’s homes from mortgage repossession Visit his blog and get some help and advice on mortgage difficulties, catch up with him on Twitter and check out his free report “An Encouraging note on Dealing with your Mortgage Lender” and have it sent right to your inbox.