My beloved Frazzy is a teacher of Salsa and is a distinctly smooth mover when she hits the floor, all swirling dress and dainty moves of her red satin shoes. This is the direct opposite of me, who like so many modern dancers grew out of the rave and club scene of the 1990s. That vast swathe of white guys who looked like football hooligans thinking they were Lionel Blair [Frazzy is lucky, my husband (probably along with about 80% of British males) refuses to dance at all unless drunk – Ed].
But you can’t knock me for enthusiasm. For most of the 1990s the Ministry of Sound was one of my key sources of entertainment and nary a weekend went by when I couldn’t be found ‘Largin’ it on one of the dance-floors. Many of you will never have visited the place but will know its international brand and famous Portcullis logo adorning a million cycle courier bags and sweatshirts.
However despite how well known it is around the world you would be surprised at how modest it looks from the outside. Its located in a back street off the Elephant and Castle, hardly a salubrious area, nestling between small business units and offices and even more surprised to find it becoming a ping pong ball in the mayoral race for London, with Ken and Boris at loggerheads over it.
24 Dash this week reported that Boris is backing a bid to build a 41 storey tower block in its place while Ken has joined forces with the MoS to keep it open. Boris is threatening to over-rule Southwark council’s decision to refuse planning permission.
Monaco based property developers Oakmayne are a bit miffed about Southwark’s move. Christopher Allen of Monaco based developers Oakmayne said:
“It is a bitter irony that the committee cited provision of affordable homes as one of the key reasons for refusal, as their decision has now cost the people of Southwark £16 million worth of 80 affordable homes, as well as an extra £4.25 million worth of public realm improvements and wider benefits for their own designated Enterprise Quarter.”
Now you might be expecting me to join the campaign to save the club where I had so many good times, practiced so many dreadful chat up lines and even had my face slapped on a couple of occasions when the humour in them was lost on the recipient, but No. I tend to agree with Oakmayne.
Surely homes and jobs are more important than a bloody night club which can relocate anywhere. The famous Marquee club in Soho, where I played several times as a young musician in the 1980s has moved 3 times in its life.
I never thought I would side with a property developer but there you go, we live in interesting times.
Ding dong the witch is dead.
Regular readers will know that when not harassing landlords my job requires me to harass banks to stop them repossessing people’s homes. If I do say so myself I have become quite good at it and rarely lose and even more rarely put people forward for mortgage rescue.
It isn’t usually necessary because the mortgage lenders regularly jump the gun with their possession actions and if you know where to look in the procedures they are supposed to follow you will be able to spot more holes than Frankie Cocozza’s underpants. (this is a presumption, I have no first hand knowledge you understand?)
However, every now and again a poor borrower really is dead in the water and can only turn to the last resort available, a Sale and Rent Back deal, or SARB as they are known in the trade. Where an individual or company buy the property at a knock down price and leave the borrower in their home as a tenant.
But joyous news came our way last Friday amid a peeling of church bells and a throwing open of the cottage windows on the first spring day. The Financial Services Authority closed SARB deals down, the ever reliable Nearly Legal reporting on it here. The net has been closing for some time on SARB sharks who it was found were putting people at risk by either overstretching themselves in their greed and going out of business or simply evicting borrowers a short way down the line.
Over the past few years the FSA have been adding more and more restrictions, forcing SARB firms out of the game but with their latest report they decided that enough was enough. FSA’s head of mortgage Supervision Nausicaa Delfas saying to Inside Housing
‘Sale and rent back is often the last resort for struggling homeowners so we expected to see firms treating their customers much better than this report suggests”
The FSA are calling a ‘Temporary closure’ but I would surprised if it gets re-opened.
Now lets see if the FSA turns it’s beady eye on the murky world of Below Market Value Investors (BMV) for which there is a frightening middle world of companies who track down people facing repossession by their lenders and sell the leads to BMV investors looking to buy at sometimes up to 50% discount from frightened borrowers in debt. These people in the parlance of the industry are termed “Motivated Sellers”. Nice!
The Guardian this week ran a few articles about the practice and ethics of councils discharging their duty to provide housing for people by sending people to areas where housing is cheaper.
One article written by Shelter’s senior policy officer Deborah Garvey on the effects of the incoming Localism Act talked of how the new legislation is going to make in easier for councils to do this lawfully, citing Croydon council’s existing idea to shunt people out to Hull and Yorkshire seaside towns.
Liam Kelly, also writing in the Guardian on this topic raised the question of whether morally a council had a duty to provide housing for residents anywhere or just specifically in their locale.
But there has for some time been a hidden war going on between London councils where this has been happening. Some councils paying a finders fee of a couple of grand to landlords to take on tenants out of borough. The provisions of the Localism Act are just making manifest existing sharp practices.
Personally I feel very strongly against people being forced to move. In the 18th and 19th centuries people were forced from their homes for being Irish and Scottish, now the criteria seems to be people unfortunate enough to find themselves on Job Seeker’s Allowance, or god forbid, housing benefit.
I find regular disagreement on this with many people saying its a sign of the times and it makes practical sense but this opinion is always voiced by the people who don’t have to move, whose home and income is stable, who aren’t forced to leave their family, their history, the friends and networks.
While off sick with my burnt foot (yes it is still painful thanks for asking) I watched Gracie Fields in ‘Sing as we go’ one afternoon, a tale from the 1930s of a factory girl made redundant and literally taking to her bike to travel the North west and try out various jobs, unable to afford to live in her home town.
The film was a big hit in its day (however did she become popular?) and had the backing of government for presenting a positive spin on a nation forced to do the same thing as Gracie. The difference is it had a happy ending and she got her job and her home back, which I doubt will happen to our current crop.
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.