Tower Hamlets Council refuses to give residents appointments for gas checks

The council just sends inspectors round to people’s addresses without appointment. That is in breach of established safety procedure.

Bogus callers are an all too common problem in Tower Hamlets. The Bogus Gas inspector has robbed many pensioners of their live savings. To help protect residents from bogus callers a best practise became established, which had the following routine.

Council sends appointment to resident advising them of a contractor coming to carry out some work. Resident could agree on a password for the contractor to use.

Contractor had to show the resident their ID card and allow resident to call the council to make sure they are genuine.

But now the council has refused to even make appointments and just sends contractors to people’s houses and if they are not in, they do not leave a calling card. In fact it is not possible at all any longer to even know when a contractor called.

The council now takes people straight to the Magistrates Court to obtain a court order to enter a premises on the excuse that they have been refused entry to carry out gas checks.

I just wonder why they now terrorise people in that manner.

Especially as this does not ensure that the gas check is actually carried out within the statutory 12 months of the previous one. To ensure that gas checks are carried out the landlord or council must send out appointments so that residents can arrange a more suitable time to carry out this gas check if the proposed appointment is unsuitable.

In fact I just had such a letter advising me that there is going to be a court hearing in July to obtain a court order to break into my flat to carry out a gas check, when I wrote to them asking for an appointment so that I can have my gas check but they just do not want to give me this appointment for a gas check.

I have been a resident here for over 35 years and each year I have had my gas check without problems, now the council does not want to give people appointments any more but just seeks orders to enter by force.

Is it social cleansing or a fashion trend?

On one hand the trend to house poor families out of London is called an attempt to socially cleanse rich boroughs like Kensington and Chelsea, a borough short of social housing and on the other hand I read stories that white people are very keen to move out of London to the country-side. There is a nice graph on the link.

What is it then a desire to escape the large city or is it social cleansing. There seems to be a consensus wanting to move.

Perhaps the first solution, wanting to move people out of London by Kensington and Chelsea is not restricted to white people who seem to voluntarily leave London to escape the increasingly ethnic immigration influx. I cannot quite belief why K & C wants to move ambitious young people out of the borough because they are ambitious here in London but what are they supposed to do with their ambitions in an area that is not economically so active as inner London?

Reporting suspected child abuse

I wonder why it has not been possible to nail Jimmy Saville whilst still alive and think that the networks of power are much too strong still to do anything in time about institutionalised child abuse. Such cases often come out only when it is too late. Jimmy Saville had threatened to take others with him if he gets prosecuted and that I think is what led to him being able to have a peaceful retirement, as others were too scared to hold him to account as he would have told unwelcome stories to the police and it would probably have caused severe embarrassment to the nation, more than it has already.

The latest arrests of a priest and former care worker are only the tiny tip of a huge iceberg. There are now calls to inform the NSPCC of any concerns by calling free phone 0800 800 5000.

But in practical terms when a parent wants to voice fears about a teacher for example then the Education Authority makes an initial enquiry by asking other child care professionals like allocated police officers and so on, like a panel of people, and if they give a good character reference and the incident was relatively minor then a council would threaten the complainant with legal action if they ever as much as mention the fears again as it has already been investigated and found to be harmless.

So parents think there is no point in raising any concerns unless it is a severe form of abuse with immediate physical evidence. Otherwise such complaints get completely swept under the carpets and councils even threaten parents to not mention it ever again or they get sued by their legal departments because the councils’ education departments have to protect their staff.

So if you voiced concerns and the education department has declared the teacher harmless and served you with a legal notice, you can then not go to the NSPCC and report the same matter again as your council can then sue you.

Perhaps checks on that teacher could reveal that they purchase illegal material online but if those checks are not carried out by the first investigation then it will stay undetected for a very long time indeed. It is a scandal.

Threats right, left and centre

Having made a few critical remarks about David Cameron, some of his ministers and indeed the royalty in this country, I suddenly get another legal threat from some authority department. The government really uses every trick in the book to silence opposition in this country nowadays.

Obviously I am unable to give any details. I have been barred from ever mentioning it.

Intolerable rise in homelessness

The rise of homeless people  in London has risen to enormous proportions, I read today.  The percentage of families with children living in B&B has risen by 385% in 2012.  The number of rough sleepers has risen by 40%.

This is the totally irresponsible housing and housing benefit policy this government has introduced that is responsible for this trend.

It doesn’t really matter that the DWP constantly wants to push people into jobs, when they have nowhere to stay permanently; how can they plan for employment, their children’s education, any health care they may need long term.

It seems cynical that the government now offers a £500 set up grant to allow setting up child care to enable mothers back into work, when those mothers have not even got permanent accommodation. Parents’ worries are needlessly increased by various risk factors, such as no permanent housing, being cut off from benefits for weeks on end when parents are accused of not doing enough to find work and mothers and children are left without any money and they have nowhere permanent to call a home.

Government these days is obsessed with pushing mothers into work and stopping women from having children or making them beg for food in soup kitchens as soon as their children reach age 7 or less. The age goes down all the time, that mothers can no longer receive Income Support and are forced to change to Job Seekers Allowance or get nothing at all for themselves to live on.

Birmingham Council has practically been bankrupted by a recent ruling that forces the council now, in a time of national austerity to pay out compensation for women’s under-payment through equal pay.  Yet that is fine for the women who have the jobs and are established in their lives but for those women who are now told that work is better than benefits but who have nothing to call even a home, the hope of an equally well paid job is just a far away illusion, that has not even realised yet.

It is always easy for those on the top to look down on those who have not achieved the same level of luxury in their lives and edge them on to achieve, but when you are at the bottom of the ladder, it is quite clear that the steps on that ladder are cracked and that those at the top have not even an idea what it is like to struggle day after day with simple things.

Boris re-elected

The results are in and Boris can feel good about himself as the majority of Londoners voted for him in a closed contest.

What I found really interesting were the results in my own constituency of City and East where there was a relatively high vote for the BNP with 7031 votes, but that was down -5.7% on the previous election.  Comparing this with the Community United Party, that brought in 6774 votes,

The turnout was relatively low at 33.7%. Obviously people did not feel threatened by the election or they would have turned out en-mass.

Still it is good to see fringe groups standing for election as it mirrors a general mood for support. The UKIP was very lowly voted for. Yet if we read the media, they blow up their importance out of all proportions.

I think the underhand winner was the Green Party who came in third all around, beating the Liberal democrats into fourth place.  There is a good amount of environmental conscience in London and that was a vote for healthy air, I think.

Surprisingly for me, the BNP beat the Christian People’s Alliance in the London wide voting. Though the loss of the BNP percentage (-6.5%) was greater than the loss of the Christian’s People’ Alliance loss (-2.1%).

The vote reflects that Londoners are Middle of the Road people that favour their economy over philosophy. But the overall result shows that people are generally using their democratic tools to liven up the political debate and favour an overall Conservative rule with local Labour politics, which creates a layer effect of locally we care about the people but nationally austerity measures.

The problem with Neighbourhood Watch in Tower Hamlets

When you go to the Metropolitan Police Website and turn onto the Tower Hamlets Pages, you see a tab that is called getting involve.Within that is my picture not only once but twice and it says that I encourage people to build Neighbourhood Watches in Tower Hamlets.

I do accept full responsibility for that but now have had to resign that post of chair person of the Tower Hamlets Neighbourhood Watch Association, in a situation that I would call constructive dismissal.

There are many factors that led to my resignation. One is the new housing legislation that doesn’t allow tenants to occupy a flat with a spare room. The legal frame work of neighbourhood watch requests that a chief local coordinator makes their own address available for contact points. Here in Tower Hamlets the Police expected me then to administer all Neighbourhood Watch records but no office room was made available for that purpose. I am not allowed to have a spare room in my home as I am a tenant. That automatically discriminates against social housing tenants becoming Neighbourhood Watch coordinators, which is something that I wholly despise.

When I look at boroughs like Wandsworth where Neighbourhood Watch displays the best model of how it’s done, I thought I could establish a similar model in Tower Hamlets. Yet in Wandsworth the council heavily supports Neighbourhood Watch also in the aministrative functions, they create and distribute promotional material including stickers, leaflets, watch signs etc.

Here in Tower Hamlets the council refuses to do any such tasks, I had been asked to collect all window stickers from the town hall and keep them in my bedroom. I had ordered 50 Neighbourhood Watch signs, which I could not store in my flat any more either. Yet when I called the Town Hall to enquire how to get permission to put up the signs, nobody could help, I was given a telephone extension that was never answered.

All the council does in Tower Hamlets is provide a couple of Internet pages that explain about Neighbourhood Watch and has links to associated websites. Yet as explained in my previous post, other councils actively support Neighbourhood Watch schemes and also administer them but not in Tower Hamlets. No Neighbourhood Watch Association can exist alone. There are so many problems that require data sharing and if its only the knowledge which housing landlord is responsible for which estate, basic things like that.

Whilst I was given the opportunity to be the chair of the Tower Hamlets Neighbourhood Watch Association lately there was  not one other watcher who would actually become a member of the board and act as Secretary, Vice-chair, treasurer. I ended up doing all those jobs.

Furthermore in Wandsworth all watch coordinators have to undergo a Criminal Bureau Records check whilst here in Tower Hamlets there is nothing of that sort even in place. Not even the police check up on watch coordinators unless they are the top people like myself. I have been checked many times over in recent years and there is no black spot in my life but I am not certain abut other coordinators in the borough. I personally had extended CRB checks done because I volunteer in schools.

On the Ourwatch website, anyone can register, draw around an area and call themselves a watch, with the benefit of getting tailored crime reports for the area they are registered with on the site and they can also make use of the excellent communication system that the site brings with it but that doesn’t mean that anybody seen on the site as a watch is actually a properly registered watch. Now the legal system has changed and only approved persons can use the Neighbourhood Watch logo and produce material using the wording and the picture logos as they can be downloaded from the Ourwatch website.

But there is still no requirement that any person wanting to be in neighbourhood watch must have a criminal record check, any watch coordinator can have a criminal record or even be a registered sex offender. Though I must admit that it is unlikely that criminals would want to be watch coordinators but not impossible.

Without the pro-active support of the council and little checking of individual coordinators in Tower Hamlets I see little chance of this getting to be a good system. I have even resigned from my local SNT panel because I do not like to be discussing problems with ever changing PCSO officers and cannot see how the current system reduces crime in the long run. The statistics show that Tower Hamlets has twice as much crime as the City of London on a permanent basis. Sorry to Commander Rickett who says crime could not get any lower in the borough, I disagree.

Please see also my previous post to explain in length how my perceive the problem with policing in the area.

I think that Neighbourhood Watch is an excellent system in boroughs like Wandsworth or Bexley where there is at least good and active council support in both boroughs, though Bexley does not carry out a CRB check on coordinators but for Tower Hamlets where there is no proper infrastructure, I feel a lot of work has to be done. Now at least some money has been allocated to us and we can hope againl. I think that Neighbourhood Watch is a viable in most areas and especially in areas where there is a good infrastructure supporting it from the council as well as the police.

I found myself loading a pram full of boxes and bags and carting the lot to my local police station and giving it all to them because I needed some storage space for materials. I still have my endorsement for Neighbourhood Watch in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets on the Met Police website.

PS: in up-date to this post, I continue to do the daily work and hope to engage more with both council and local residents to build up a better and stronger watch network. It’s a matter of more engagement and getting to know local watches and encouraging others to ask the council to hold a bigger stake in Neighbourhood Watch. Also policing will change in the autumn, I hope for the better, at the next Association meeting we will get more details,all wait for 19 June.

Bring back successful concepts

I am immensely excited by the news that one area of Britain, Queen’s Park in London,  might soon be getting a Parish council because 87% of those who responded to a consultation were in favour of it. Church Parishes have a great source of local knowledge, and a well manifested network of social care. for a lot of people being in the church registers is a must whilst also then getting into the registries of the town halls.

A Parish council could be the first stepping stone to alternative local service provision and it would help the cash stricken churches to get some income, instead of having to close down or be converted into flats, as so many churches do now. People would be less dependent on political swings than they are now if there is another source of social network in place that does not strictly rely on 5 yearly administrations. Church parishes usually last longer than that.

Congregations were much bigger in the times when church going was more compulsory either because of social pressure or legal obligations and bringing back church councils back now will restore some of that proven reliability that served our communities always well.

Another, though not so commendable older rule I came across today, that reminded me of plans to bring in local pay differences for public servants, I read in a children’s book about local differences in time because clocks were set by the sun and that made time differences throughout the British isles quite more frequent than they are today. Each town practically had a different time for their main clock tower according to the movement of the sun until all times were set the same by the railway time, as it was then called.

I suppose that is not a very good idea to bring back greater localisation for pay because similar to the various clock towers ringing at slightly different times we would get a bit of a muddle wanting to create payment tables for different areas because Britain is so small. I suppose if one rich person would move in or out of an area that could change the payment tables for local civil servants and where would one draw a line as geographical areas in the UK are relatively tiny compared to the US where there are vast areas of land.

Labour sacks radical councillor

It is completely against any laws and against any sensible way of conduct for a politician to like a threat of bombing the opposition. This is what Labour councillor Florence Anderson did. That just should remind anyone who is anybody to be careful what we tick on Facebook.

It is of the utmost importance that we uphold civil obedience in this country as otherwise we cannot contain civil unrest and unlawfulness.

It would only disrupt people’s daily lives if others go around bombing someone and that is definitely not what I would support in any event. It is more than welcome that the Labour Party acted upon this inappropriate like on Facebook because we simply cannot tolerate that elected politicians would call upon terrorists to solve their problems.

Space is money = time is money

Of course the European countries have more problems next year but there was little sign of trying to save money yesterday. It must have been very expensive to put on that show of wealth and of making an impression with the fire works display in London. London calling we could hear and the theme was set.

Yet Angela Merkel warns over further austerity measures. But, if business continues to trade the way they do, and it is not only merely a matter of style but of principle, we will see that companies find it hard to make a profit.

Every economy and business student learns in one of the basic modules that storage costs has to be set the lowest possible margin to keep capital flowing but when we look around our stores, what do we see, enormous amounts of shelf-space reserved for luxury items, which have the lowest turnaround. The smallest areas in supermarkets are left for the cheapest items that sell the most. So the imbalance on how sales space is allocated in the first place should be looked at again.

We see how people are still encouraged to get into debt by allowing them to borrow on credit cards and then apply to have the debt written off to the tune of £15.000. Of course for most people unable to repay debt it would be impossible to borrow in the first place but those who can borrow £15.000 should only be able to do so if they can repay.

In Housing they now want to address the problem of allocating space to where it is needed because it becomes more and more apparent that the problem of space is essential to resolving economic problems because not only time is money but also space is money. Apparently over 6.0000 council tenants earn in excess of £100.000 per year.  There is no space requirement for anybody wishing to purchase a council flat; people can buy a flat as big as they like, even without any kids. So 1 person can purchase a council property for themselves, if they buy it from somebody who acquired it legally before and then perhaps was forced out by high costs.

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