Monday, 11 November 2013

It's been a while since I last blogged, as we've been waiting for Richmond Council to come up with an offer of a property for us.

Well, we had one, and went to see it this evening. Frankly it was an insult, and we've rejected it.

Yes it was one bed-roomed, on the ground floor, and close to my work as requested, but it had damp, an ancient water boiler, no outside space for the dog, and was in need of serious redecoration.

Some might say we're being a little 'picky', but Richmond Council have put us in this position, and if this is all they have to offer to redress the situation then they can forget it.

I have informed Richmond's Head of Housing of our decision, and we wait to see what he comes up with next.

The worst part of it though was the lady from the Housing Trust had received no knowledge of our specific situation, nor even a copy of our 'Housing Application' prior to offering us the property. She even said that we shouldn't have been offered the flat in the first place because we have a dog !

It beggars belief that we're still being treated so poorly over this, and we intend to continue the fight.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Well, the day dawned when we expected to hear LBRuT's latest excuse why they couldn't rehouse us, and it didn't start that well I have to say.

I received an email from the Director of Education that didn't fill me with confidence ahead of our meeting with the Director of Housing this afternoon.

The way it was worded suggested that nothing would continue to happen in our favour.
There was one particular line that read "I have been updated by HR and Housing on the points you have raised......and after full consideration of the issues I am satisfied that the appropriate action has been taken"

Now, I take 'appropriate action' to mean the action already taken by Richmond on the matter - so there would be no change to the situation.

I responded, in a polite yet firm manner, stressing again that my contract states (if they'd care to read it correctly) that they are obliged to rehome me, and that I would take the matter further if this didn't happen.

As a result, Denise and I were not looking forward to the Housing meeting.

This meeting started in a similar fashion. The Director began by explaining the policies for rehousing Site Managers or not, depending on the circumstances and their contracts. I pointed out that these policies do not apply to my situation, as my homelessness is as a result of an LBRuT decision, and not through any choice of mine.
I have to admit to becoming a little irritated at this point, as I felt sure he'd give us the same old nonsense about their non-obligation to rehouse us.

So, imagine our surprise when he told us that he had approved our Council Housing Application, and that we would be rehoused as soon as possible.

It was a massive relief for both of us, and my boss (who was present) was equally pleased for us.

The outcome is that he will now go away and look at our application in more detail, take into account all of our circumstances (pets, health issues etc), and find suitable accommodation for us. It was stressed by myself, and supported by my boss, that this should be in the Hampton area as my job depends on that to a certain extent.

Denise and I are satisfied with the outcome and like to think that the LBRuT have at last recognised their moral (legal ?) responsibility to us and done the decent thing.

We would like to thank everyone that has supported us throughout this period, you have all kept us going with your words of encouragement and advice.

Denise and I have gone through the mill this year, in more ways than one in Denise's case, but we seem to have survived it and maybe now we can look ahead to a rosier future.

In summary :

"Is Loyalty a Thing of the Past ?"

Yes, I do believe it is unfortunately.
My loyalty to LBRuT had nothing to do with their decision to back down and do the right thing by us. What did it was my shouting loudly enough to make them sit up and listen. They realised that I would not simply roll over and play their game, and that I would take this as far as I could. That meant publicity, and that was a game they don't like to play.

Monday, 30 September 2013

My response to the Director :

Dear Mr *********
I trust you read the attachment I sent with my email.
This outlines the unfortunate situation I am in with regards my living arrangements. I believe that anyone would see that I am being treated unfairly, and immorally (and some would say illegally), by the LBRuT in this matter - despite what they say to the contrary.
I am not responsible for the situation I am in. LBRuT wish to sell the land that they held back from St Mary's Church when they handed over the Oldfield site under the terms of the Free School agreement. My house sits on that land, therefore in their eyes I must vacate, and find alternate accommodation at my own expense, and with little or not help from those that should be providing it. What better argument do have to fight this injustice ?
I would be more than happy to meet with you, and to discuss this further, in the hope that you could assist me in some way.
I will NOT be bullied out of my home by what seems to have become a faceless, bureaucratic organisation, with scant regard for the 'small man', just for the sake of making a penny or two.
I have been a faithful servant of Richmond for 18 years, and deserve some respect at the very least.
Simon Purdue
It would be nice if he at least paid me some respect by responding. I'll let you all know in due course.
So, following my email last night I received a reply from the Joint Director of Education and Children's Services for Kingston and Richmond.

The email was addressed to me, but copied into the lady from Richmond's Human Resources who has been "The Mouthpiece" for Richmond throughout all this, my boss and my boss' boss. I won't mention names I'm afraid. My boss has been very good to me throughout all this, and has been very supportive, and her boss is someone I've worked for in the past. Both of whom I have respect for, and neither are involved with the shenanigans that Richmond are playing in this. And "The Mouthpiece" is exactly that. It's not her fault that she has to say what she does, it's just her job, and I do know that she sympathises with my situation.

The Director's email simply said : "Can anyone brief me ?"

Now, I was obviously very tempted to brief him with chapter and bloody verse, but decided not to. He is after all my boss' boss' boss, and I didn't want to piss him off and jeopardise my chances of success.

But the question I ask now is, why does he need to be briefed ?
Did he not read the attachment that was my original 3 page statement ? Can he not come to a conclusion from that using his own reason ?

He was contacted some time ago (when I first raised a fuss over this), by Vincent Cable, and was asked about what was going on. He basically passed the query to HR who told him their side of the story of course (as The Mouthpiece would), which he duly passed back to Vincent. I'm still not sure that he really knows what is going on, or what the impact of it is to my family and I.
I find that slightly worrying. I understand he's a busy man, working on the merger of Children's Services between Kingston and Richmond, but those who work for him must surely still be important to him, and be taken into account.

Or am I just being na├»ve, thinking that people at the top care about people at the bottom ?

I may be being unkind to him, after all I've never met him, but I think this is a rather unusual situation to be in and it must at least pique his interest. Why then has he not spoken to me direct about it ? Surely my opinion counts for something to him.

I intend emailing him back, suggesting that we meet.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

-----Sunday evening update-----

Email sent this evening to senior Richmond Council officers, Councillors, Members of Parliament, and the press :

I thought I'd send a quick reminder to you all, of the plight my wife and I find ourselves in as a result of a LBRuT decision, and to give you an update on the current situation.
We have a meeting with Ken Emerson, Head of Housing for Richmond, on Wednesday afternoon where we expect to hear that our situation has been resolved in our favour. Anything else we are told would simply be a continuation of the shameful, and immoral treatment we have endured at Richmond's hands over the past year.
If it turns out that Wednesday's meeting is not good news for my wife and I, then I fear you've simply wasted everyone's time, and we will continue our fight. We know we are in the right, and know that we will win through eventually.
Everyone knows the reasons why we're being told to vacate the Oldfield Bungalow - we've personally seen the evidence of it with the clearing, and fencing off, of the land adjacent in preparation for sale. We don't dispute Richmond's right to sell excess land, but we do dispute their so called 'right' to make us homeless to achieve this.
I urge all those within the LBRuT to make the right and moral decision in this situation, and everyone else of you to stand up and speak for us.
And please, do not expect us to simply 'roll over and play ball'. This will not happen !
Thought I'd just make sure that they haven't forgotten us.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

No news to relate regarding the house situation, and the weekend is now upon us, so a chance to put it out of our minds for a while.

Both pretty knackered this morning as up late working on individual projects. Denise finishing the cake for Lisa and Tony's wedding today, and me the last of the figures for the latest commission - just couldn't keep my eyes open long enough to finish that final one.

It's going to be a long, tiring, but enjoyable day.

Best wishes to Lisa and Tony ahead of their big event.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Okay, so it's possible that we may be getting somewhere with this at last.

A meeting has been arranged between myself, Denise, my boss (as a relatively independent witness - in light of the fact that Unison have disgracefully washed their hands of me), and the Head of Housing Operations to discuss my 'housing application and the issues I raised in my letter'.

Of course I'm hoping that the Head of HO is going to tell me some good news, and not just palm me off as his staff have done up to now with their standard letters - "you do not have enough points, and we don't have any available, suitable housing even if you did" - that sort of thing !

Meeting scheduled for next Wednesday (2nd Oct) at 3pm, at The Newhouse Centre where I work - rather there than at home, for the sake of the dog's nerves :D

What's more, I contacted Unison today in an attempt to lodge a formal complaint against them for their lack of support in the situation. No response from them yet though - now there's a surprise ;)

I haven't cancelled my membership with them just yet, as the Branch Secretary has been very supportive throughout despite Unison's legal department siding with Richmond (!!!), and telling him to back off. Once this is all done and dusted, in mine and Denise's favour, I'll submit my cancellation.