Grantham Journal letter: ‘Good news? – hardly!’

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Local authorities sometimes accuse the press of blatant exaggeration and sensationalism. But if the current edition of South Kesteven District Council’s Skyline is anything to go by, maybe they should put their own house in order before criticising others.

In this revamped council magazine, once actually produced in partnership with the now defunct tenants’ district association of which I was a member of the editorial team, Ian Richardson, head of housing and neighbourhoods, tells us rather sensationally: ‘The good news just keeps on coming!’

Which it does if you take what has been written at face value.

However, the ‘jaundiced’ eye of an experienced journalist tends to reveal much more ‘between the lines’ than up front.

For instance I doubt whether the 130-plus tenants (two per cent) whose dwellings were supposed to have been brought up to the government’s Decent Homes standard by the end of 2010, most of them I suspect like me living at Riverside, would agree.

The district association was told that the council faced a £1.5 million fine if that deadline were to be missed.

That doesn’t appear to have happened, perhaps due to a change of government, but the unhappy tenants are still only on a promise that the work will be complete by 2015!

The apparently magical year into the second half of which the Coalition seems to have pushed all decisions until after the general election.

Further unwelcome ‘good news’ for these particular tenants is that they probably won’t be able to escape their current unsavoury conditions including sub-standard kitchens and bathrooms before 2015 by moving.

I quote from Skyline: ‘All council tenants who receive an offer of another council property must now have their propert inspected to ensure its condition is up to the required standard and can be re-let with minimum work reducing the cost and time properties are vacant.’

So, through no fault of their own, they will not receive a further offer until the council is satisfied that the property meets the required standard.

And so to the magazine’s yet more ‘good news’ about the council’s war against anti-social behaviour.

SKDC claim that ASB action has resulted in two successful council injunctions to stop two people entering into the Shaw Road and Riverside areas of Grantham.

I have no knowledge about the Shaw Road injunction but I wonder what Riverside neighbours think of the fact that the other banned person has been squatting next door over the festive season and into the New Year?

The publication gives us even more ‘good news’ that the authority is: ‘taking action to protect residents and visitors to their properties from harassment and abuse – and all forms of ASB – helping the community feel safe.’

Again I can only speak for Riverside, but I wonder how safe residents feel after the Christmas and New Year break, when incidents included an alleged drug-related car crash destroying a wall and damaging the side of one of the old people’s flats, drug dealing and usage in public, violence, drunken behaviour and intimidation of senior citizens and physically handicapped tenants by their so-called ‘vulnerable’ neighbours?

Young adults the council call ‘vulnerable’ and house amongst the elderly and infirm, a controversial policy that has been strongly criticised in the Grantham area for many years.

And one which they seem determined not just to continue but to widen considerably under what Skyline calls ‘good news’ about SKDC’s latest allocations policy, which is already under way.

Read between the lines and I would suggest that it means the council can put criminally ‘vulnerable’ elements anywhere they like!

You want to know more? Read the magazine through again ... carefully!

Peter Clawson

Riverside Flats, Grantham