Ex-housing director 'should go' after ASB ‘dumping’ case
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Health, Local Government, Tenure
Call to sack ex-housing director after ASB ‘dumping’ case
A Labour MP has called on the former director of housing at Birmingham City Council to step down following claims the council “dumped” a tenant with a record of anti-social behaviour on to a housing association’s books without notifying it of his past history.
The case was raised in Parliament last week by Labour MP for Birmingham, Hall Green, Roger Godsiff. He was representing the interests of homeowner Nicola Shipley whose life had been “turned upside down” since the tenant, Lee Sinclair, transferred to the housing association property next door.
Ms Shipley said in a letter to the MP: “Since October 2010 I have felt unsafe, vulnerable, harassed, intimidated and threatened in my own home. The constant extreme noise from the playing of loud dance band music and intimidatory and anti-social behaviour has severely affected my quality of life and those of my neighbours.”
Mr Godsiff said: “What is scandalous is that that pattern of behaviour was known to the tenant’s previous landlord—Birmingham City Council—but the officers in the housing department who approved the transfer deliberately and wilfully conspired to ignore the council’s mutual transfer procedures and did not tell the housing association about his past appalling record. The council officers knew that the housing association would not have allowed the transfer to proceed had it known—the housing association has made that clear to me on many occasions. In essence, certain officers in the Birmingham’s housing department dumped this problem on the housing association by omitting to tell them the true facts, wrecking the life of a young woman in the process.”
Mr Godsiff said the fact that no information has been forthcoming about the council’s internal enquiries leads him to think that “senior officers, right up to the director of housing, seem to be more concerned with covering their backs than with seeking the truth of this disgraceful episode and trying to put right the grievous wrong inflicted on the young lady”.
He called on the then director of housing, Elaine Elkington, to step down.
He said: “Elaine Elkington should take responsibility for what has gone on in her department, and I believe she should go.”
Elkington has since become strategic director (projects) at the council following a restructure.
A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “Earlier this year we offered a full apology to Ms Shipley and other related parties for our treatment of her anti-social behaviour case. An investigation highlighted a number of issues and lessons have been learned, which will help ensure that such matters are dealt with more robustly in future. A review of landlord services will further explore the way in which housing exchanges are managed and, if necessary, procedures will be strengthened.”
Mr Godsiff said Moseley and District housing association – the social landlord to which Mr Sinclair transferred – has tried to assist Ms Shipley by taking the matter back to court.
He said: “Earlier this year, the court ruled that Lee Sinclair should give up possession of his property in Jakeman road, but that the possession order will not be enforced if the defendant complies with seven conditions and four undertakings.
“The order lasts for two and a half years, but since that time Nicola Shipley has reported continual breaches of the order. Eight months on, she is still suffering, as are other local residents, who are terrified of the consequences of appearing in court to support their witness statements.”
The Parliamentary under-secretary of state for Communities and Local Government Don Foster said he was unable to comment in detail on the specifics of the case but that the Government was committed to tackling anti-social behaviour.
He said: "The Home Office's White Paper, “Putting Victims First—More Effective Responses to Antisocial Behaviour", produced in May, sets out what we will do to turn our commitment into practical action, working across Government, but in the end it is the quality of responses locally to antisocial behaviour, to which the hon. Gentleman referred, that will change things on the ground.
"The White Paper proposes replacing 19 existing powers, some of which have proved slow and ineffective, with six simple, flexible and adaptable new ones. My department is leading on the proposals in the White Paper that make it quicker and easier for landlords to evict their most antisocial tenants."