Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Let Them Come?

"Consider first Margaret Hodge," writes columnist, David Aaronovitch in The Times, "the radical minister. Bravely breaking with decades of accepted practice and flaunting several taboos, Ms Hodge argued for a change to council housing rules to favour those who could be regarded as 'indigenous' over those who could be classified as “new migrants”, regardless of actual housing need! "

Hodge's argument may strike a chord here in Thanet, which has seen the social balance shift quite dramatically over the last decade in west Clftonville and central Margate. Aaronovitch however sees any movement towards favouring the indigenous over the new arrival as an unnaceptable injustice and adds:

"For me this created the wonderfully retro image of the asthmatic children having to stay put in the damp house by reason of their incorrect origins, while the perfectly healthy indigenous couple got in ahead of them on the housing list. All of which, according to Ms Hodge, would “promote understanding which leads to better tolerance and integration in our society” by making white people feel that life was less unfair."

There is one reality however. There are not enough homes and social housing stock to go around and house prices are rising all the time so what is the answer? Is Hodge right about giving priority to those "local" people who are in the queue already or does need; i.e "I have five children to your two", always come first?

It's a subject that is bound to raise strong feelings and here in Kent in particular. Who do you think is right? Hodge or Aaronovitch


Cllr David Green said...

The argument is invidious, and impossible to generalise. The real question is creating the will and means to provide more social and affordable housing. Thanet Council under both regimes has a very poor record in this regard, the only excuse being that we had to make our existing stock fit for purpose first. Now that has been acheived, Labour has proposed "Housing" as a major part of the new Corporate Plan. To give due credit, the Tories have accepted this. Now we need to see some action, both to increase the new build and more imaginative schemes to convert and renovate disused sites.

Anonymous said...

I see nothing wrong in discrimination in looking after people born and bred in Thanet first,regardless of race,colour, creed and sexual orientation. I am perfectly happy to see discrimination in housing priorities against 'immigrants'to Thanet whether they come from London or from overseas. The problem, as Cllr Green so clearly identifies, is the lack of affordable, social housing. This problem led to West Country councils giving priority to locals as well healed London 'immigrants' bought second homes and twee weekend retreats and pushed up local prices beyond the reach of young people in Devon and Cornwall.
My concern in Thanet is that despite the boom in building around the Isle in the past 3 years and with major projects like St Augustine's in its final stages and Westwood Town about to happen, there is inadequate provision for Thanet people. TDC should 'buy-up' as much of Westwood Cross as it can!

Doctor Loon said...

Mrs Hodge is only worried about hanging on to her seat given the growing support for the BNP in her constituency. Unfortunately I find it difficult to takes these clowns seriously when they vote to keep their finances secret.
As for the issue of giving council housing to economic migrants. Do we really need to even debate this? If they can't afford to rent a house from their earnings then tough. Go back where you came from.

In respect of asylum seekers. If they were genuine then I don't have a problem, but how many council houses in Britain are occupied by Roma from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and now Romania, Bulgaria etc? If these countries are in the EU how can they be treated as asylum claimants? If they are being mistreated then why are these countries in the EU? It's past time we started hacking the welfare state to pieces. It's like some ghastly zombie that just won't die. Come back Frank Field all is forgiven!

Anonymous said...

Well said Doctor Loon......speaks sense that man !

Doctor Doom said...

Well said, Cllr Green, the argument is indeed invidious and it’s worth noting Margaret Hodge has been doing her best to avoid repeating herself, whilst of course refusing to apologise.
Keith Vaz and others have called for Ms Hodge to produce real-life examples to justify her claims, but curiously she has yet to produce a shred of evidence to support her observations.
Yet another example of the New Labour model not just moving further to the right, but playing to the BNP Little Englander knee-jerk mentality in the most shameful fashion. Hopefully this is nothing more than the death-throws of Minister Hodge before Gordon Brown sends her to political oblivion. Time will tell.
Meanwhile, Hodge’s comments will be seized upon as an official admission by a government minister that the prevalent Little Englander fallacy that “forinners” are indeed taking our homes and jobs.

As Margaret Hodge is reluctant to undermine her own case by mentioning anything factual, you will forgive my mentioning just one pertinent statistic:

Hodge’s local Barking & Dagenham council-house building project dropped from 572 to 230 units last year. There, in a nut-shell, is the cause of her local problem. The same story, of course, can be told across the country.

Hodge states: “We prioritise the needs of an individual migrant family over the entitlement others feel they have.”

And there we have it, straight from the horse’s mouth: “the entitlement others FEEL they have”. Nothing to do with actual entitlement, right, need or indeed common sense.” This is all about perception.

Let’s take an even closer look at Hodge’s statement: “We prioritise the needs of an individual migrant family over the entitlement others feel they have. So a recently arrived family with four or five children living in a damp and overcrowded, privately rented flat with the children suffering from asthma will usually get priority over a family with less housing need who have lived in the area for three generations and are stuck at home with the grandparents."

Let’s just hear that again – the recently arrived family, living in damp, over-crowded conditions with children suffering from asthma, may get priority over a family with less housing need.

That is precisely the point, Margaret Hodge. It’s all about NEED, and about helping those in need, something the New Labour Project seems to have conveniently forgotten this past ten years.

Clearly Anon 8:44 does not see it that way, so let me ask him this:

Were I ever to need to call upon the social housing of TDC, how would he judge my claim?
I was born in Ramsgate and have lived and worked here on and off for many decades. But in between I have lived and worked elsewhere in the UK and overseas, am married to a “forrinner”. We have a child that has lived here in Thanet most of her life but was born on a different continent. We also have, for the purpose of ticking the ethnic origins box, three different colour skins.

Anonymous said...

I am not involved with social housing of TDC, Dr Doom, however on criteria used in Devon & Cornwall, I think you would qualify as would your family; the ethnic origins of your wife and the colours of the skins in the 'Doom' household or your sexual orientation are irrelevant as I pointed out at 8.44. You highlight the point I made, the need for more social housing.
However I feel that it is not wrong to take care of Thanet's resident needy first and give them priority over the needy from elsewhere. If that offends your high minded principles, so be it.

Anonymous said...

anon again!

hmmmmm.... Aaronovitch, name has a distinct Foreign clang. Seems to me there's far too many Johnny Foreigner's telling us indigenous Brit/Eng's what to do!!!

Anonymous said...

There is an ECR twang to your comment 8.43 and I think you are perhaps being 'tongue in cheek' provocative here!

Eastcliff Richard said...

My twang snapped years ago I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

Nothing to do with the story, but where did you get the beautiful picture from?

Anonymous said...

anon again!
At a guess, I'd say Minnis Bay East end looking out West toward Reculver on one of our splendidly glorious Thanet Sunsets. You can take this sort of pic almost any sunny summer's eve yourself!
Sometimes I go down there and quietly take in this, the 8th wonder of our planet.

DrMoores said...

The photo taken by Thomas Gardner who sadly passed away last June.

Anonymous said...

Dr Loon has said it all for me I agree 100% with his comments genuine asylum seekers merit help.
but anyone who has been on a waiting list for affordable decent housing for years and learns that a newcomer recently arriving into the country has been given priority, whatever the need, is bound to feel resentment.
Eileen Cunnew