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Private rent problem

After all the correspondence about council housing that has appeared in the Swindon Advertiser over the years I find it staggering that Brian T. Bradbury Pratt remains so ill-informed about the subject, (History of right to buy, SA March 7). I can assure him that responsibility for upkeep of council housing has never been a problem for councils who are prepared to employ the appropriate staff to discharge the functions they are elected to perform. If he is implying that any part of the cost of council housing becomes a financial burden on the electorate then he is mistaken. As a municipal accountant responsible for housing from the mid-1960’s on I can assure him that council housing costs are met by rent income. To charge them to the general rate fund, (now the council tax), would be illegal. The real public cost of housing today arises from the high levels of housing benefit payable to the poor unfortunates living in over-priced private rented accommodation.

I also dispute his claim that siblings simply took over the tenancy of an ageing parent. Certainly, there were instances where a tenancy was granted to a child who had spent many years residing in a council dwelling, often as a carer. However, there was no automatic right to take over a tenancy and it didn’t happen often. Compare that to today, when any Tom, Dick or Harry can fund the purchase of granny’s house. When granny dies, the house then becomes a nice little earner for the new owner on the costly private rented market; often housing a homeless person off the council waiting list supported by housing benefit.

I turn now to his risible claim that right to buy was intended to improve the supply of public housing stock. I recall having a conversation with the leader of the Conservative Group on Thamesdown Borough Council in 1984. He quite openly admitted that it was the Thatcher Government’s view that “house owners vote Tory while council tenants vote Labour”. He looked forward to the day when the housing market became so distorted that we would have a permanent Conservative Government. Well, we have gone a long way to realising his dream. There are only 1.6 million council homes left in England to meet the needs of a population of 22.9 million households. So rather less than seven families in every hundred are living in council accommodation.

Finally, in the 70’s and 80’s waiting times were quite short in Swindon. As a key worker with a young family I got a three bed in Shaftesbury Avenue in four weeks. Less than a year for other families was not unusual, while long term ex-servicemen were housed almost as soon as they were discharged. Now we have people sleeping in doorways and more than one local authority are housing people in shipping containers, while polystyrene boxes are also being considered.

Don Reeve, Horder Mews, Old Town

Time to accept vote

The Remainers keep telling the Brexiteers they do not know what they voted for. Do the Remainers know what they voted for? They must have a fantastic crystal ball if they do. Can they give me the lottery numbers for next week?

I think it is about time for the Remainers to accept the vote, that the majority voted to leave. Lets get together and stop this arguing and make Britain great again. The 18 and 19 year olds are now saying they want to vote because they were to young in 2016 and its their future. Well what about the 16 and 17 year olds now? They could say that they want a vote now. Now you can see how silly this is becoming. I voted to leave and I want a no deal Brexit.

Gary Darling, West Swindon

Name and shame

Following the quite disgraceful assault on Mrs Victoria Fisher who was exercising her right to peaceful protest; I am sure 100 per cent of the Adver’s readers would agree with the editorial statement that “There is never, ever a valid excuse for such behaviour.” At the same time it is regrettable that the Adver chose to be so vituperative in the text of its statement.

Is it really the case that the thug who assaulted Mrs Fisher should be hunted relentlessly and once caught brought before a court and punished severely and furthermore if that punishment is anything other than severe, must be taken to a higher court. No mention at all of due process or a trial just punishment. What sparks the Adver to write in such earnest tones? Perhaps it is the stated belief that “we are just days away from what could well be a huge crisis,” to which it’s fair to ask: what crisis? And why is it presumed a great Nation cannot manage a situation which offers exciting opportunities beyond being shackled to the political construct of the EU?

Mrs Fisher’s attacker must be apprehended and brought before the courts, and if found guilty of assault should be punished (although I think naming and shaming him as a person who attacks a defenceless woman will be more sobering than a short period of incarceration).

If you get me started on thugs with knives and those who sell drugs – I might take a more robust approach to how the law deals with them!

Des Morgan, Caraway Drive, Swindon

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