A reader has emailed me a link to the above video on YouTube. It was shot at one of those public sector renewal love-ins at the Margate Media Centre last week.
The subject under discussion is crap housing, and in particular the No Use Empty scheme. No Use Empty is, as you know, an East Kent initiative backed by KCC and Thanet Council. Its aim is to bring 6,000 empty and derelict properties (otherwise known as 'eyesores'), back into use by persuading landlords, and bribing them with grants, to do up their shitholes instead of leaving them and the surrounding area to go down the khazi, in the greedy expectation of profit tomorrow without spending a penny today.
A worthy cause you might say. But let me just save you nine minutes or so and summarise the video for you.
Audience member: What control do you have over the many asbentee private landlords in the area?
Speaker (Head of Community Planning KCC): I'm not making excuses, but the best person to ask isn't here.
Audience member: I run the new B&B in Hawley Square and in the last few weeks we've had five couples from out of the area, looking for family homes here, stay with us. The estate agents have told them there are no large houses to buy, it's mostly small units, the houses have been divided up.
Then we have the No Use Empty scheme... many of those projects are still standing empty and are touted as a success after they've only had a first wave renovation. These very small, one bed flats in these large historic buildings which would have been appealing to the people we actually want to attract to give a more balanced, settled community are then added to the other 880 empty properties that you've got. So you're actually losing some of the key buildings that would have been attractive to incomers... that would rebalance the social imbalance that's been created over the past 30 years.
Who's actually checking that these buildings... are now occupied and why are you turning beautiful buildings into more substandard bedsits and flats? When we renovated our listed building and took away ten bedsits we got nothing... and yet property developers are able to get money to renovate buildings and not occupy them, and they're still standing derelict. And that's KCC money.
Speaker (Head of Community Planning KCC): That is... is exactly the key issue here, but rather than give an answer blah 880 empty properties, that's a potential for investment blah.
Audience member: One of the problems is that we never know who to talk to... nobody knows who's in charge. Will you support a directorate that would bring everything together in one place in Thanet?
Chair: Colin is only a (council) officer, he doesn't need to answer that one.
It's enough to make you weep, isn't it?
Update: Arse! The video has been removed from YouTube by whoever uploaded it. Must have been embarrassed by the glaring spotlight of my publicity!
Update update: Er, it's back again now.
Click here to go to No Use Empty website
Click here to go to Margate Renewal Partnership website