Yesterday’s pictures of
what sort of buildings are now the norm in Newham
didn’t produce much in the way of the half anticipated criticism and whilst the
predicted loss of Twitter followers did come to pass, by the end of the day they
had been replaced by new ones. Of more interest was an anonymous email from what I can
only assume is a Council Building Inspector who provides an interesting insight
into the hidden effects of Council cuts.
It is reproduced below, unedited. He or she must be a much quicker writer than I am, the email arrived only about 20 minutes after yesterday’s blog went on line and it is suggested that I will have spent about 30 minutes writing it. Just over two and a half hours actually, I try to pick my words carefully.
What inspectors? Councils no longer employ teams of men scouring the borough just in case a resident erects a permitted or non-permitted edifice on their private property.
Trained officials paid by the hour j_u_s_t to walk the streets? Really???
Even the count on one hand staff remaining have limited capacity to act retrospectively, clear backlogs, deal with laying down the law to people so they don’t do stuff in the future (deal with past, present and future as you may expect).
Google Earth and local residents are all very well, but with both there is always some delay between a logged residents call complaining and any action. There is never the manpower to action every complaint, and many complaints prove barely grounded
Legal and Planning are resource and time intensive matters. Priorities must be made, particularly if the real buying power of councils is decreasing while what staff remaining continue to get at least some terms and conditions. e.g. volunteer Librarians at Bexley Village are still on council land (a cost of ownership, cheap if dormant, but should any action ever be taken or have to be taken by Bexley council on their own property (roof repairs say) that would cost and public/employers liability insurance.
Things can be done on the cheap, as it appears council planning is being done in your Aunt’s street in Newham, where presumably not as many people pay full rates as the national standards of government expect, and other ‘labour/socialist’ social needs are expected.
Newham may well be run for and by the a cross section of society that is no longer white female and over 50, (if it ever was, the women’s league write to Chief Inspector only to be fobbed off is my take on the 1930s-50s) and it may well look like one of the nicer slums of the world (many slums have sewerage and power, but still poor). But it does not mean a ‘properly runֹ’ ‘ideal’ council could enforce or deal with a whole street on a house by house, legal proceeding by legal proceeding basis.
That is why whole communities of interlinked individuals were razed in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. The money and the effort was there to get rid of slums/bomb damage, but not the day to day, face to face time/manpower to personally deal with/for and on every individual resident.
Your Aunt is a vulnerable and well respected member of her community but if the community suffers low economic prosperity and little redistributed support, then there is not much time, money or capital that can be externally applied (e.g. bins, call centre cuts, meals on wheels, doctor home visits etc.)
Enough people, with enough time to freely choose to enforce the law on these streets.
It’s not a Muslim issue to take time that feels too scarce, then do less with it than you feel, a Bexley blogger feels, you should do.
It is a Human one. and one you as a Bexley blogger (no time to write 30 odd signed letters of concern about each property in the street which concern you individually) have fallen into with your well written blog post (30 minutes time, rather than 30 x 2 hours of time to deal with each house complaint).
I recommend human to human that you pick just one shack on the street to write in formally about, deal with any correspondence/contact/visits arising and let the impact/non impact of how that one house is dealt with impact the street.
Actually I can tell you what Newham Council says about the ramshackle structures that desecrate their borough; none of them need planning permission.
Newham has the fifth lowest Council Tax in London, Bexley is in 24th position.