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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Firstly I was struck by a hypothetical question:-

“Would the regeneration have been necessary had the Thatcher cuts in maintenance been avoided and the inflation proofed money still been available?”

I suspect yes, owing to the change in residential makeup of the estates owing to the effects of right to buy (in subsequent decades companies and individuals bought onto council estates and let the flats to unemployed people on the then DSS thus further weakening the estate demographic) and the 1977 Housing Act – priority needs based lettings.

In my personal opinion the estates and council housing in general were damaged by those two pieces of legislation, the second of which was enacted under a Labour Government albeit with unintended consequences.


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London Journal pdfs

August 12th, 2016

Alice Coleman

Wordle4_th

Planned Housing as a Social Trap


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“Both mayors elected so far, and the two major candidates this time, have offered the same solution, differing only in degree—a relentless offsetting, whereby the proceeds of runaway property speculation are proposed to be redistributed, usually by a legal requirement that developers build a percentage of “affordable” housing on or off the site, or pay for a bus stop, or fund some nice pavements and benches.”

“All of this relies on trying to inveigle the private sector into behaving more nicely. In a city where for nearly a century public bodies once directly built and directly owned thousands of high-quality homes and let them to people on low incomes at low rent, this is a staggering failure of imagination.” – Owen Hatherley writing in Prospect Magazine.

UPDATE 25/4/18: I’m not convinced the programme makers have correctly described the layout of the “scissor” flats in this block. If you live there or know someone who does please leave a comment underneath this article.


TheFlat

BBC/Oxford Film and Television/Lorian Reed-Drake

“I want to discover how the high-rise flat became the answer to Britain’s post-war housing crisis and why this modern way of living became loathed and loved in almost equal measure”

In weeks gone by the series has looked at the Medieval cottage and then the C19th terraced house. This week the final part takes us firmly into the C20th with concrete rather than brick construction and multi-storey towers replacing houses with gardens.

On Youtube here The Flat

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Terrace

BBC/Oxford Film and Television/Lorian Reed-Drake

“I want to discover what made the terrace Britains home of choice and why they’re still as devoted to these houses as their first inhabitants were well over a century ago.”

This week’s programme examines the development of the terraced house in the Liverpool district of Toxteth during the 19th century. As the city grew as a port, its population expanded both with the rural exodus and the influx of Irish migrants fleeing the potato famine.

On Youtube here The Terrace

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