Please welcome to the naughty step the head of housing for Norwich City Council, Kristine Reeves, along with other council officers. Why? Some pernicious housing policy or dodgy choice based letting scheme? No. Ms Reeves took a rather more personal interest in housing allocation…
Greyhound Opening was a sheltered housing scheme from the post-war years, situated in the city centre. Featuring 25 small adapted homes around a green, with tree shaded gardens, this very heaven for John Betjamin was designated for redevelopment into 100 flats and houses, on the recommendation of, well, Kristine Reeves. The occupants, hitherto paying £69 per week rent and living alone by requirement of the tenancy agreements, were decanted into old people’s accommodation around the city several months ago.
And then? Demolition? Securing of the properties? No.
A couple of months ago Ms Reeves, together with other council officers – half of them from the housing department, moved into the properties. Yes, Ms Reeves, who owns a house and earns c.£52K a year, is paying £47 per week rent for one of the properties.
The properties were advertised on the Council intranet, apparently without approval by Councillors. Not only the rent has changed. Ms Reeves reportedly shares the property with Graham Ross, whose role in the housing department is to increase private sector tenancies, and other officers reportedly co-habit, despite the previous sole occupancy requirement (and the single beds).
Ms Reeves, door-stepped (or should that be entry-ramped) by the Times, had a novel defence.
This approach ‘continued the rent roll’, she claimed, gliding over the reduced rate. In passing, market rents in Norwich city centre apparently run at £350-£750 per month. Naturally, the officers living there saved on security costs. And of course, this wasn’t much of a perk
From here, this looks like a nice scheme. It looks a bit Toytownish but these are not fit-for-purpose units at all. The bedroom doesn’t accommodate a double bed. It’s not well insulated — I can tell you they are really very cold. You couldn’t swing a cat in it.
Poor Kristine, having to live in such substandard accommodation. Oh, wait a minute.
And, of course, the properties couldn’t have been used for homeless accommodation because “it wouldn’t be permanent housing”. Naturally, Norwich is stuffed with disability-adapted temporary accommodation.
Apparently Norwich Council are examining the way the property was allocated to Ms Reeves and chums. One might suggest that, should a suitable interested party present themselves, the Administrative Court might also examine the allocation. Anyone?
[Edit: And coming soon on the step – Beresfords. Once I have calmed down.]