[Ben Reeve Lewis considers flies …]
One of the most revealing lessons that life as a puppy owner has taught me so far is that flies are actually brighter than they look.
The weather has been warm so we have been able to leave the back door open all day so that our brown furry bundle of chaos can leap in and out at will to look for snails, fallen apples and just about anything else that has the potential to poison him.
This means that flies can also wander in and out at will, so I keep a tin of fly spray handy at all times and sporadically leap up like a great white hunter to spray them out of existence. But I’ve noticed that the minute I grab the can they leg it back outside.
Whether they can read my mind or just react to me moving stealthily through the kitchen undergrowth, I can’t tell.
Hector seems bemused by all this and watches my performance with great interest, mouth open and head on one side, before going back to his favourite pastime of nibbling his nuts.
This being a topical column I try to restrict entrants to stories from the past week but just yesterday I came across an article in The Guardian from March which I thought needed to be brought to wider attention.
Many of you will know that the Office of Fair Trading has gone, so who is now protecting consumers from the worst practices of criminal or just incompetent estate agents?
A council at the northern tip of Wales is now responsible for all complaints against Britain’s half a million estate agents.
Fair enough, as long as they have enough people in the team to do investigations, expulsions and appeals. Except there isn’t a team, unless three people constitutes it, which is the intended staffing level.
Powys had to make £20 million in cuts this year and needed to get some money back into the coffers so they bid for the dubious pleasure and got a paltry £170,000. It will just about pay for the paper clips.
Having just seen my council’s £125,000 rogue landlord team seed funding dissolve like a Mr Whippy in the Gobi Desert, I know how little it covers.
Ex estate agent Henry Prior hit the nail on the head when he said:
“The OFT have done a pretty limp job of regulating estate agents not helped by successive governments who refuse to regulate the sector or to bring letting agents within the definition of the Estate Agents Act.
“It seems unlikely that civil servants in Powys will do any better or indeed any more, leaving the public exposed to rogue operators and giving the press the opportunity to justifiably ask ‘who is going to clean up the wild west?’”
£170,000 and three staff isn’t going to go anywhere near creating a service to do a job of that size.
Shadow Consumer Minister Stella Creasey commented that there were:
“Real questions about whether Powys and Angelsey have the capacity to take on a project like this”.
You gotta wonder.
Inside Housing entertained me this week with the tale of two scammers who have been imprisoned for benefit fraud to the tune of £188,000 which they used to buy a house.
But it was the comments below that made me laugh, where ManWithAbacus accused them of “Stealing from the MOTHS of babes”.
The Moths of babes, what a bizarre image? Where’s me fly spray.
Stealing from Moths
Meanwhile someone else has been stealing from Moths too.
The Telegraph informed us about Fast Eddie Davenport from the other end of the social scale who is having to sell a swanky 24 bedroom palace in Portland Place to stay out of jail where he has been lounging for the past 7 years for his part in a multi-million pound fraud.
I quite liked the sound of Eddie. He bought the property from the government of war ravaged Sierre Leone for £50,000 in 1999. It’s now worth £30 million. Nice day’s work Ed.
He hosted wild parties there and once filled a swimming pool with cocktails so that revellers could row across a sea of booze. My kinda guy……and my kinda party.
But then I read that his fraud involved stealing the life savings of 51 people and I wanted to drown the little shit in his own cocktail pool.
Astonishingly he said of the necessity of selling his house to pay back the people he stole from:
“This place wasn’t really related to the offences … so it’s all a bit unfair that I’m being forced to sell. Quite shockingly unfair, actually.”
Have a look at the photo of him that accompanies the article. If you broke him in half he would have the word ‘Bounder’ written through him like a stick of rock. Why would anyone have trusted him?
Support for housebuilding
Welcome news of the week is the decline in Nimbyism and the concomitant growth in public support for building much needed new properties.
The periodic ‘British Attitudes Survey” revealed that over the past 3 years there has been a rise from 28% – 47% in ordinary non-housing folk giving house building the thumbs up and a reduction from 46% – 31% in local resistance to plans.
New housing minister Brandon Lewis threw his hat into the ring and announced:
“This surge of support was down to the government’s localism agenda, which had put local people in the driving seat”
Bit of a tenuous connection don’t you think? Like Thatcher claiming that her no sanctions policy on South Africa toppled apartheid in the 80s.
Curtains for the hobbit house
However this newly found support doesn’t seem to have found it’s way to Pembrokeshire council who gave me my head-shaking moment of the week at local authorities gone mad.
The news that the Welsh Hobbit House I wrote about several months ago is to be flattened under a demolition order
The unusual and eco friendly home of Megan Williams and Charlie Hague in Wales is to be brought down. Not sure I would want to live in it myself but at least it has character.
Why oh why would the council not give it planning permission and yet freely allow Barrats and Wimpey to build their usual soul-less rabbit hutches that are an insult to the imagination of moths and flies, let alone the British public?
Nine of the planning committee refused to grant retrospective planning permission with one dissenter, Councillor Keith Lewis who pointed out that there hadn’t been a single complaint or objection from neighbours or community.
So it’s sheer bloody mindedness. Why even my kitchen flies have more intelligence.
The couple have 6 months to appeal though. Keep an eye out for petitions and sign it to help them out.
See ya next week.