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Ben Reeve Lewis Friday Newsround #119

Ben on a chair[Ben Reeve Lewis is going on a diet ]

I’m now officially on a diet, admittedly only 1 day in. That 5:2 fasting diet that everyone keeps raving about.

Everywhere I go I meet friends and colleagues who suddenly look thin. “How did you manage that?” I say incredulously, secretly fearing that they might tell me it involves giving up alcohol, but no….just eat what you like for 5 days, and very little for 2.

How hard can it be?

It’s long overdue to be honest. Work colleagues have been pointing and saying “Do you know the sex yet?”, or “When’s it due?”.

It also means I can’t tell my usual jokes, “My wife’s so fat, she’s the only woman I know who gets her knickers on prescription” etc, because people start raising their eyebrows in an ironic pot/kettle/black kinda way.

I don’t do physical work, which is part of the problem, unless you count climbing through bathroom windows to gain access in illegal evictions and I’m running the distinct risk of getting wedged in one if this carries on.

Pickles gets tough

Eric PicklesI’ll tell you someone else who needs to go on the 5:2 diet, that Eric Pickles that’s who. Look on his website and he is always announcing charity lunches, lunches for the homeless or a new project launch lunch.

This week Eric announced that he wants councils to get tough on illegal encampments and traveller sites.

He is announcing the introduction of new powers, having comparatively recently scrapped equality and diversity measures which discouraged councils from taking tough action that had not long been in place. Nice to see a man who knows his own mind.

Eric says:-

“We’ve strengthened councils’ powers so they have the confidence to take decisive action. Too often, council officers wash their hands, and say nothing can be done. This is not the case. The public want to see fair play, with planning rules enforced consistently, rather than special treatment being given to certain groups.”

Apparently the new powers will entitle residents and councillors to challenge councils when they don’t act against illegal sites. Personally I think Eric should be officially declared an ‘Illegal sight’.

Who is my neighbour?

The Telegraph ran an interesting story in the week about a survey which showed that 6 out of 10 people in the UK don’t talk to their neighbours.

They produced a very funny quiz to test your neighbourliness that is well worth a read. This is one of the questions:

Your neighbours object to your planning application. What do you do?
a) Ask them round for a cup of tea to see if you can find a compromise.
b) Write them a peeved note pointing out that you never complained about their burglar alarm going off twice without cause in 2002.
c) Sub-let your house to eight medical students and move abroad for three years.

Frazzy and I live in the ground floor flat of a converted Victorian house. I don’t know the names of the 3 young girls upstairs, although one has several nick-names. She stamps about like Eric Pickles in clogs giving a piggy-back to John McCrirrick, but when you see her she is a tiny little thing.

We call her variously “Sasquatch”, “Big Foot”, or “Elmer”, short for Bugs Bunny’s nemesis Elmer Fudd (trying saying ‘Thud’ with a London accent).

Chickens coming home to roost?

Penny Anderson also posted a thoughtful article on neighbours on her popular Renter Girl blog wisely observing:-

“So all of those years of spite over the fence about Leylandii, parties, car parking spaces, nosiness, noisiness, or just irrational mutual hatred which worsens daily until loud shouting matches are a daily ritual, has consequences”.

Tell it girl. Working in TRO world I have seen so many trivial disputes develop into all out wars.

Frazzy keeps saying she wants to tackle Elmer about her clod-hopping, but I reign her in, pointing out that it is their only failing. They don’t play loud music, or hold wild parties – very unusual for a bunch of girls in their early 20s, so I can put up with it if it means we don’t have to live in purgatory.

I’ve seen far too much of that kind of misery where both sets of neighbours sit indoors waiting for a creaking floorboard or a loud fart which is then taken as a deliberate vendetta against them.

No thank you.

Hot gossip

And finally do you want a bit of inside information on government inefficiency? Hot gossip if you will, from an inside source.

Recently government put aside £1.9 million to be given to some councils who are breaking the law by storing families in B&B for longer than 6 weeks, as written about by ARLA here.

The background is that just 15 councils are responsible for 80% of these breaches, so government decided to break the £1.9m down into pots to give to the 7 worst offenders to get their B&B bill down.

Trouble is, it just happened that around the time the money was being divvied up one council who shall remain nameless, had recently closed down several expensive and inefficient hostels prior to putting most of it’s homeless applicants into self contained temporary accommodation.

So when the government turned it’s beady eye on them they just happened to have a large number of families in B&B, but it was only for a very short transitional period.

Of course all the government monitors were looking for was how many people they had in B&B and didn’t ask why. So government tut-tutted and duly awarded a very large whack of the dosh to the offending authority and just days later everyone was re-housed as previously planned anyway.

You can just imagine the grin on the face of the head of homelessness when he opened the letter telling them they had been awarded the 6 figure sum can’t you?

See you next week.

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2 Responses to Ben Reeve Lewis Friday Newsround #119

  1. I’m sure I read recently that there are plans for tenants to declare disputes as well. Part of the initial plans to regulate letting agents and bring them on par with estate agents I recall.

    Or I could be making it up. I’m a bit delerious having just polished off a bacon sandwich



About the post author:

Ben Reeve-Lewis

Ben is an enforcement officer for a London Local Authority, a housing law trainer, an author on housing law who writes for the Guardian & occasionally pops up wittering away on TV. He also runs Easy Law Training with Tessa & Graeme. Occasionally he sleeps. Find him on Google, and Journalisted. Any opinions expressed are Ben's personal views & don't reflect those of any organisations he may refer to.

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