Four friends in Newcastle have the strands of their lives interwoven with the political and economic events over three decades. Superficially it’s a nine hour film about housing, but it’s much more than that.

The Labour Party, corruption in public life and housing, the rise and fall of T. Dan Smith (Mr Newcastle), John Poulson and Reginald Maudling, sleaze in Soho, corruption in the Met, the Tories rise to power, the violence and politics of the Miners’ strike in 1984 to name but a few of the political events covered.

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Eddie Wells and Nicky Hutchinson talking

Four friends in Newcastle have the strands of their lives interwoven with the political and economic events over three decades. Superficially it’s a nine hour film about housing, but it’s much more than that.

The Labour Party, corruption in public life and housing, the rise and fall of T. Dan Smith (Mr Newcastle), John Poulson and Reginald Maudling, sleaze in Soho, corruption in the Met, the Tories rise to power, the violence and politics of the Miners’ strike in 1984 to name but a few of the political events covered.

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Mary and Tosker at Willow Lane Flats

Four friends in Newcastle have the strands of their lives interwoven with the political and economic events over three decades. Superficially it’s a nine hour film about housing, but it’s much more than that.

The Labour Party, corruption in public life and housing, the rise and fall of T. Dan Smith (Mr Newcastle), John Poulson and Reginald Maudling, sleaze in Soho, corruption in the Met, the Tories rise to power, the violence and politics of the Miners’ strike in 1984 to name but a few of the political events covered.

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MaryNicky

Four friends in Newcastle have the strands of their lives interwoven with the political and economic events over three decades. Superficially it’s a nine hour film about housing, but it’s much more than that.

The Labour Party, corruption in public life and housing, the rise and fall of T. Dan Smith (Mr Newcastle), John Poulson and Reginald Maudling, sleaze in Soho, corruption in the Met, the Tories rise to power, the violence and politics of the Miners’ strike in 1984 to name but a few of the political events covered.

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Mary explains Alan Roe’s plan – Elaine looks like thunder

“Let those who want to buy, buy. Let those who want to rent, rent, but what will they rent if I’ve sold all the council houses?” asks Mary of her replacement, Elaine.

“Well, why not use the proceeds to build more council houses?” replies Elaine.

“Because a) I have to sell them dirt cheap, and b) I’m only allowed to use half the proceeds to build replacement houses.” – replies Mary. “The other half has to finance a reduction in the rates.”

This exchange is one of the reasons OFITN might fairly be described as a Northern housing drama. The above exchange is one of many examples illustrating the effect the housing situation had on its residents, from the shoddy system built flats of the 1960s through to the Thatcherite push for home ownership via right to buy and its concomitant effect on the declining estates and their residents signified here by the desperate situation of Sean Collins at Valley View.

The scene near the end in the bar, between Geordie, Sean Collins, a young lad of 10 or 11 and his dad Christopher – is one of the most moving and powerful in the entire film, and the empathy shown by Geordie towards Sean, says a lot for his strength of character, his own life having suffered hours dreadful and things strange to say the least.

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Buy to let – Guardian

December 10th, 2016

This isn’t an article it’s a brief reaction to the Guardian article.

“There’s a housing shortage, and landlords help this by providing accommodation …”

No you don’t. You exploit properties that would otherwise be owned by singles, young couples and families.

The only people who ought to own properties for rent are the state. It used to be called council housing. We need it back restored and expanded. Anything else is exploitation by rentiers.

Five years ago I wrote “Why sink estates exist” in despair at the course right to buy had taken and the growth of buy to let mortgages.  Now Stephen Farrall of the University of Sheffield has written a similar piece only based on data rather than hearsay. I’ve reproduced it here with permission under the Creative Commons Licence.  The article was originally published on The Conversation.


Thatcher helped people to buy their own homes – but the poorest paid the price

Stephen Farrall, University of Sheffield

It has been 25 years since Margaret Thatcher gave her final, tearful speech as prime minister of the UK on the steps of Downing Street. In the decades since, we’ve had time to get to grips with the legacy left behind by one of the most polarising figures in British politics. Cutting through the visceral, ideological storm she left in her wake has been no easy task, and our research has found that the story told by the data is more complex than we could have imagined.

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Right to buy – Independent

August 17th, 2015

To describe social housing as subsidised – as critics of councils and housing associations often do – is a fallacy. The one-off development cost of building a social home is supported by government, but the rental value of that home repays the investment. Money spent on social housing quickly becomes a public asset.

Following the revelation that getting on for 40% of former council homes are now let out for private rent there have been a flurry of articles in the media, all of which I’ve read looking for nuggets of truth, but in my view this is the best one and I’ve picked out a few paragraphs of interest. I am so glad they included the paragraph on subsidy about which I have written elsewhere.

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WRONG_TO_BUY_LOGO_1000p_643

Click the image

I’m not on Twitter so I can’t tweet this but if you care about council housing and right to buy you ought to be aware of this article in the Daily Mirror. Heard through @gamecounsel

cityerie_rtb_cpo

Perched in London is somebody I have a lot of time for.  Working in the housing sector and with extensive knowledge of the problems faced by the elderly who undertook right to buy while being poorly advised in many cases, @cityeyrie is acutely aware of the problems faced as councils routinely land leaseholders with bills for thousands of pounds at the wrong end of their lives when many if not all would have been better off remaining as council tenants.

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