Friday, October 10, 2008

LA LA Land

With all he financial woes going on in the world, with exception of Latvia of course, at least according to our erstwhile politicians, it will come as no surprise to anyone that certain sections of society are clearly having some difficulties, and nowhere is this more evident than back in the good Old United Kingdom.

In the last few days these stories have hit the headlines

Butcher told to stop chopping meat because it is too loud

A traditional butcher has been banned from chopping meat in the morning because residents complain he makes too much noise.

Butcher Brian Clapton told to stop chopping meat because it is too loud
Mr Clapton argues that because the council own the freehold of the building it is liable for the cost of soundproofing work Photo: EASTNEWS

Brian Clapton, 51, was ordered to stop preparing the meat between 6am and 8am on weekday mornings and 9am on weekends because tenants in flats above his shop were unhappy with the chopping sound early in the morning.

Mr Clapton had run his business, Brian's Meat Store, for 13 years without any problems, until he was told in November 2007 to soundproof the premises or cease slicing in the early hours.

He has now been taken to court for refusing to obey a Barking and Dagenham Council order.

He appeared at Barking Magistrates' Court in Essex on Thursday to face four charges of breaching a noise abatement notice.

Mr Clapton argues that because the council own the freehold of the building, which has been a butcher's shop for 50 years, it is liable for the cost of soundproofing work.

Speaking ahead of the case, Mr Clapton said he had no choice but to prepare meat in the early morning and will be forced to close if he loses his case.

He said: "We start early because we are a traditional butcher's.

"The council has ordered me to soundproof the building but this is their property and I am their tenant so as freeholders they are responsible for making these changes.

"I will not be doing anything but continuing to work hard, pay my taxes and rates and try to earn a honest living."

The noise abatement notice was served after residents living above the shop complained. Landlady Sue Grimble claimed a number of tenants left due to the loud chopping sounds at unsociable hours.

Mr Clapton pleaded not guilty to four counts of breaching a noise abatement order in August.

and the next

Woman given £12k a month for home

Jawad Saindi
The family moved into the property in July

A woman is receiving more than £12,000 a month in housing benefits so she and her children can live in a seven-bedroom house in west London.

The woman, who is from Afghanistan, approached Ealing Council in July when she and her children became homeless.

They were placed in a privately-owned seven-bedroom house off Horn Lane, Acton, as the council had no properties that size.

The authority said it has a legal obligation to help them.

'Fair play'

Following changes in the law, the council was forced to pay well over the average market rate for the property.

Local lettings agent Rajesh Kathuria, from RSK Homes, said the average rent commanded for a seven-bedroom property on the road would be between £2,000 to £2,500 a month.

This is quite an extreme case
Spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions
"That should be quite a reasonable price according to my experience," he said.

Jawad Saindi, one of the sons, said the family were pleased with their new home.

"I think the property value is quite high, basically we were lucky to get this house," he said.

A council spokesman said the case exposed the "absurdities" of the housing and benefits system.

"The sums of money involved in this case will offend people's feelings of 'fair play', especially as so many are having difficulties paying bills at the moment," said Councillor Will Brooks.

"The story highlights some of the absurdities of the housing and benefit system. "

'Extreme case'

In April, the government introduced the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) which established national rules about what type of accommodation is appropriate and how much rent can be paid to landlords.

The change enables tenants and landlords to find out the maximum amount of LHA available before an agreement is reached.

"We believe that urgent changes are needed to the LHA and in particular for the publication of maximum rent levels to be ended," said Mr Brooks.

"This would enable all councils to be able to negotiate more competitive rent agreements without being undermined."

The Rent Service - an executive agency of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) - advised that the council pay the landlord £12,500 a month, partly because under boundary changes Acton is placed in the same category as the more affluent area of Westminster.

A spokeswoman for the DWP said: "This is quite an extreme case. This is one of probably only a handful of cases like this particular to London."

She said the government were currently reviewing the boundaries.

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and finally

Gardener ordered to take down barbed wire to protect thieves

A gardener who fenced off his allotment patch with a single strand of barbed wire to protect it from thieves has been ordered to take it down in case intruders hurt themselves.

Bill Malcolm, 61, was told to "remove it on health and safety grounds" by the local council, which owns the allotments.

He erected the deterrent after thieves struck three times in four months, stealing more than £300 worth of spades, forks, hoes and wrecking his potato patch in the process.

But officials instructed Mr Malcolm to remove the waist-high wire from his plot at Round Hill Allotments in Marlbrook, Worcs.

He said: "It's an absolutely ridiculous situation, all I wanted was to protect my property but the wire had to go in case a thief scratched himself.

"The council said they were unhappy about the precautions I had made but my response was to tell them that only someone climbing over on to my allotment could possibly hurt themselves.

"They shouldn't be trespassing in the first place but the council apologised and said they didn't want to be sued by a wounded thief.

"I told them to let the thief sue me so at least that way I would know who was breaking into my allotment but everything I said fell on deaf ears.

"It seems as though they are so wrapped up in red tape, they are unable to help me.

"The barbed wire was a single strand and ringing my property only. It was just three foot high and wasn't as though I'd dug a moat filled with piranha and erected six foot iron railings."

A spokesman for Bromsgrove District Council responded: "With regard to the barbed wire, when this is identified on site, we are obliged to request its removal or remove it on health and safety grounds to the general public, as this is a liability issue. This is a requirement enforced by our health and safety department."

She advised allotment tenants with security concerns to contact the local police.

So there we have it Noisy butchers are banned, as is protecting your property, but it is OK to pay £12,000 a month to house a bunch of Afghans !!! - and some in Latvia have the temerity to suggest Latvia is going to the dogs !!!!

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