Ben Reeve Lewis is back …
Thanks to Tessa for ably filling my newsround shoes last week. A professional and informative job but now back to bile, sarcasm and poorly advised anarchist tendencies..
Chilled in Crete, but
Actually I’m more chilled out than normal having spent a blissful week at the Daios Cove resort in Crete, near Agios Nikolaos to the east.
Although my mood took a dent upon arriving back at Luton Airport at Midnight to find 4 Border Immigration bods checking the passports of 3 flight’s worth of people, taking an hour in snaking queues, while exhausted kids screamed and grizzled, exhausted parents screamed and grizzled. I screamed and grizzled.
It would have been quicker if we’d smuggled ourselves in underneath a lorry.
Messages on Immigration
Honestly, if you are trying to clamp down on illegal immigration why pick hundreds of people wearing sombreros, union jack shorts, peeling skin and bags of duty free (and that was just me), only to give their passports a cursory glance after an hour of queuing like cattle at a slaughterhouse?
Prospective illegal immigrants take note, don’t bother risking your life hanging onto the axle of a Polish truck delivering bathroom suites to the midlands, just make sure you don’t look like an obvious British tourist family coming back from the Med.
Still……….. I managed to smuggle in two prohibited bottles of Olive Oil so up yours UKBA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Anarchy man!
The Foxtons Fiasco
Well I couldn’t let this week go by without commenting on the Foxton’s fiasco, with the gusto of Brian Blessed tossing back his head back and laughing.
I first caught up with the story through The Daily Mail but Tessa flagged this up earlier in the week with a link to the solicitor’s website who is putting together the class action, which goes into more detail.
In case you missed it, in brief the infamous letting agents have been loading spurious charges onto basic repair jobs, forcing landlords to pay extortionate commission by exploiting the contractual small print.
Solicitors Leigh Day are estimating a possible £42 million payout if successful.
What caused the wheels to come off is unwisely pissing off a landlord who happens to be a professor of Business Competition law, clearly no stranger to examining the small print with a very large magnifying glass.:-
“Dr Townley had been invoiced £550 for the work, but the contractor explained that they had a contract with Foxtons to pay Foxtons a commission for any work that they received through Foxtons.”
Began the explanation which got the good Doc digging a little deeper:-
“Dr Townley was very surprised to learn about the commissions, particularly given Foxtons had also charged him an additional contractual fee of 10% + VAT (12% inc VAT) for any invoice that was over £500. – But it was only over £500 because of Foxtons’ 33% mark up.
This meant that instead of just paying the contractor about £412.50 for the work, Dr Townley had to pay Foxtons’ additional fees of about £203.50 inc vat – a just under 50% mark-up – with a grand total of about £616 inc vat.”
Back in 2013 Foxtons were doing so well they floated themselves twice on the stock market, trousering a whoppnig £100 Million. I can see why.
Mind you, if Leigh Day have their way I won’t be buying any shares.
Housing law in the devolved regions
I was training in Cardiff on Tuesday, all part of the new Welsh housing legislation. Spent a lovely day chatting with beleaguered housing association and council staff having to now get their heads around the new eviction grounds under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act.
We had a good chat about the differences in devolved countries and it set me wondering what is going on north of the border and lo and behold on Wednesday the BBC ran a piece on the Scottish housing crisis.
Crisis in Scotland
Its Shelter driven, so a certain amount of caution needs to be exercised, but many of the findings were endorsed by Robert Black, the former Auditor General for Scotland (No I have no idea what it is either).
For fans of stark figures, the stark figures are:-
- More than 150,000 households are currently waiting for social housing
- Around 940,000 people are in fuel poverty
- More than 60,000 households are classed as living in overcrowded homes
- Half of all housing in Scotland falls short of official quality standards
Dismissed suggestions that tight public finances meant an improvement was unachievable.
“By making that investment, there’s a ‘spend to save’ issue because a good home is essential to the quality of life of everybody living in Scotland”.
Note the phrase “Spend to save”. This is a policy that has been doing the rounds in councils for decades now, particularly in homelessness, where it is roundly ignored in favour of cuts, cuts, cuts.
The phrase is finding even shorter shrift in a general austerity culture where government spending is being treated like a weekly housekeeping budget stashed in a biscuit tin. There’s a good article on the madness here.
The lunacy of this pocket money approach to the recession is fanning flames of civil unrest in Greece, who are telling the IMF to poke it…and why not? And giving rise to a huge impending march against austerity on the 20th of June this year from the Bank of England to Parliament Square, organised by the
And giving rise to a huge impending march against austerity on the 20th of June this year from the Bank of England to Parliament Square, organised by the People’s Assembly.
I shall be there and it will be the first march I’ve been on since the Iraq War one in 2003 and that showed them didn’t it????????????????
What me smile this week
I love discovering new authors and this week finished the excellent Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler. Hardly new, it was written in 1939 but I loved it and will be plowing through Mr Ambler’s back catalogue in earnest.
If you love 40s film noir, a la Bogart, Robert Mitchum Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet, Graham Greene, the Third man, then this book is for you and surprisingly prescient, the plot centring around international bank funded drug dealing and people trafficking.
And you thought the 40s were about Arthur Askey and George Formby!!!
See ya next week