Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Mears and Brighton and Hove City Council: A Relationship 'Molded' by Public Money


I've been sent this quite astonishing video by a reader which is worthy of attention and dissemination. You could be forgiven for thinking that maybe this council accommodation could do with some work. Maybe a spot of restoration and the removal of black mold that caused the children living in this accommodation to develop respiratory problems? Well, you'd be right, but the really astonishing thing about this video is not just the appalling conditions of the accommodation but that it was taken by the mother of a woman with 4 children after Mears Group plc had completed their 'work' on the council property.

The family, a mother with her four children in this two bedroom accommodation were moved out of the Hangleton property after repeated complaints by the family and extended family were made to the Council. To its great credit, The Argus newspaper also covered the story of the squalour of the property and their coverage of the shocking conditions of the accommodation may even have assisted the Council's response to the plight of the family.

The family were moved out of the property and placed in temporary accommodation elsewhere. They have expressed, already, the problems of having four children in a two room property, but were prepared to revisit the accommodation to view it after the Mears maintenance workers had done their work in renovating the property.

In the presence of a Council housing manager and a Mears surveyor, the family were shown the accommodation after the work had been done on it. Having watched the video and seen other pictures of the property, my personal assessment is that the black mold that caused respiratory problems to both adults and children in the property requires some more work. Perhaps Mears Group workers and council housing reps can see something we cannot. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is fine, of course, when you're not the one passing through the eye of a needle.

It suffices to say that this shocking video of the neglect of the Mears company of Council property - a neglect for which Mears are in receipt of around £2million of public money every month - might be a source of embarrassment for both the company themselves and the Council which reward them so handsomely for their 'services'. Maybe Mears, a company which, as we know, was floated on the stock exchange in 2005, don't believe tenants - children and adults - are 'worthy' of accommodation better than this. Maybe they are banking on the rest of the public in Brighton, in Hove and beyond to agree with them.

Perhaps they are banking on everyone in Brighton and others beyond being as heartless as they are. Of course, the ones doing the real banking are the shareholders. I wonder what they would make of this video? Companies which lose reputations have been known to lose some shareholders. Wouldn't it be a shame if Mears lost some of theirs? But hey, that's the world of 'risk' capital and surely, surely someone at Mears Group must know that by leaving residents in Brighton and Hove in such squalour there would always come with it a measure of risk that they might one day get found out.

Gradually, slowly, I hope and I pray that more and more people wi#ll come forward to expose the risks Mears have taken not just with their own reputation as a company in receipt of such vast amounts of public money, but also with the health, safety and well being of adults and children in Brighton...and, most likely, beyond.

You might think that this article couldn't get any more absurd. But you'd be wrong. The Council housing manager, Mr Graham Page, has told the mother of four children that this is the property that they should 'make arrangements to return to' after she has viewed it on the 14th of May and that he would be 'dropping the keys back to her on Wednesday'. Not surprisingly, the mother and her children remain in temporary housing and at this time and, as things stand, refuse to return to the property. Can you blame them?

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