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Beware of housing ruse

ONCE upon a time a clever and caring Government (not a strong and stable one) thought they’d help young professionals and young families, especially those living in Central London, by insisting new developments retain some units with affordable rents.

Now, there are two things that these mega rich property developers really didn’t like. One was rent controls and the other was “affordable” riff raff tenants polluting their concierged developments for the global elite. Any suggestion of hoi polloi was a complete no-no. So how to get round it?

A few more tête-à-têtes over sponsored lunches with Government and a few bob into the old election coffers and bingo, ‘A Viability Test.’

You simply inflate the build costs with all kinds of expensive fittings (which, unsurprisingly, often never appear), sprinkle liberally with half-baked contingencies and blend in some highly pessimistic assumptions of rental incomes and voids… mix all ingredients into a pile of highly speculative financial numbers, and there you have it… ergo … it just cannot get off the ground by conforming with the letter or spirit of the law.

We must ‘liquidise’ the affordable bit to meet the inflated profits demanded by the money men in their tax havens.

I see this technique in widespread use, initially in the capital, more recently in the provinces and just this week the ruse is fit and well and coming to a borough council near you.

It seems the new Swindon Borough Council development in Temple Street fails the ‘Viability Test’ for affordable housing… Surprise, surprise.

Surely if you own the land, as the council does, and have put in all the services for ten storeys, as the council plan, the incremental cost of, say, two more floors will be minimal?

If they need tips on how to do this then they should ask the lot developing the old Tented Market site, they seemed particularly adept at topping up the two-storey restaurant approval with 13 more floors and a hundred plus flats.

JOHN STOOKE, Haydon End, Swindon

Questions to ask

How disappointing it was to see Bill Williams in his letter (Sort these problems) October 13, use the derogatory words ‘down and out’ to describe a fellow human being whom Bill saw sitting with a can of alcohol.

I wonder if Bill ever thought why he was sitting there?

In my role as a volunteer for a homeless/vulnerable persons charity I have met hundreds of people, some of whom have fallen into addictions.

Reasons for this can be numerous: marriage breakdown, loss of a job, mental health issues or the death of a loved one.

Nobody sets to live a life on the streets, leaving themselves open to a hostile environment and, sadly, in many cases, a premature death.

Bill is fortunate to have a loving family around him to help him cope with whatever life may throw at him.

Please Bill, let’s not denigrate and judge those who are on the streets, none of us knows what situation we could find ourselves in.

Next time you see somebody on the streets stop and ask yourself why.

MARK WEBB, Old Town, Swindon

Too much or too little?

THOUSANDS of baby Adilie penguin chicks in Antarctica have died because of - wait for it - too much ice.

A similar thing happened four years ago when too much ice, with warm weather and rain was followed by a cold snap which froze them all.

In both cases ‘catastrophic climate change’ has been blamed.

So, in one of the coldest places on Earth, the Beardy Brigade blame the formation of ‘too much’ frozen water for these events.

Yet the very same day they’ll be crying into their muesli about the ice disappearing everywhere else and killing off the polar bears.

I think you’ll find it’s called “weather” and it was happening millions of years before you wholemeal-clipboard wielding head-scratchers were born.

You can’t have it both ways. Either there’s too much ice or not enough.


Men have it easy

I HAVE come to the conclusion that men have it much easier than women.

As a football fan and regular weekend drinker, male chauvinist ex-building worker and one of the boys, this may surprise some of my ex workmates and drinking cronies, so let me explain why I think that.

Now that, due to my wife’s serious Alzheimer’s health problems, I run my household with the help of my youngest son, her official carer I can see that it is no easy task.

How my good lady, in better times, brought up five kids and looked after me, not to mention our dogs and cats, worked part-time and managed all the cooking and cleaning and general housework astounds me in retrospect.

My late dad had a favoured saying: “You don’t miss the water until the tap runs dry.” Cherish what you have for all her imagined faults.

Because, take it from me, if you lose her through the inevitable end of life or the nightmare of Alzheimer’s you will then realise what you have lost.

Don’t let it be it too late, show you care on a daily basis.

BILL WILLIAMS, Merlin Way, Covingham, Swindon

Daft as a brush

A WHILE ago I ordered from Amazon a large wire brush for cleaning the patio of moss and staining. It duly arrived but the handle was delivered separately.

When the handle was delivered it was left in the porch, but, I think it would have gone through the letter box.

However, I now receive emails on a regular basis from Amazon showing me different brush heads and handles that ‘I may be interested in.’

I wonder how long they expect brush heads and handles to last as I have only used it three times.

Any advice please?

CHRIS GLEED, Proud Close, Purton

Close all borders

A HUGE truck bomb in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu has killed 276 people and wounded roughly 300 more. This is believed to be the single deadliest attack ever in the Horn of Africa.

The al-Qaida-linked extremist group al-Shabab has been blamed for the attack.

For years we have taken the free movement of people across borders for granted. But these terrorist attacks are becoming more frequent and maybe its time countries made their borders more secure to fight the spread of terrorism.

STEVE HALDEN, Beaufort Green, Swindon

Council not to blame

I AM writing regarding the letter from Terry Hayward about the man fined £100 because his parking ticket fell off the dashboard of his car.

Mr Hayward appears to be trying to blame Swindon borough councillors for this, and he states they are acting more like the Gestapo.

Could I point out to Mr Hayward that the car park in question is operated by UK Parking Control, and therefore has nothing whatsoever to do with the local borough council.

MIKE ROSE, Broughton Grange, Swindon

Use empty building

CARFAX Medical Centre’s empty building is right in the heart of the town centre and near the railway station. This empty building will make a lovely Swindon Museum and Art Gallery and save £22m.

This money save could be used for the regeneration of the town and bus station.

GREGORY JACKOWSKI, Fairford Crescent, Swindon