Archive for the ‘george clarke’ Tag

Empties are like chewing gum on pavements

Here’s a telly review from The Observer last weekend which pretty much represents the reception of The Great British Property Scandal. I particularly liked the last line.

The Observer, Sunday 11 December 2011

There’s too little time and space to get into the intricate successfulnesses of (Restoration Man) George Clarke’s two programmes on The Great British Property Scandal but, trust me, he is now doing for empty homes what Jamie has been trying to do for food. National Low-Cost Loan Fund might not sound the foxiest soundbite in the den, but it’s his answer, and it would work, by getting government and councils to let absent landlords (not all ill-intentioned) borrow £1,300 bloody quid and do up their empty homes to a lettable standard.

The angrier he got, the angrier I, and I hope you, got. The government/council lunacy of having families cooped in damp, rat-infested, poke-holes possessed of staggeringly dubious electrical safety, while round the corner lies a perfectly good “empty” which the owners, what with no one lending anything, can’t afford to twitch up to a lettable standard, hurts in that very bad way that happens when your mind hears stupidity.

Clarke managed, eventually, to show how even a little money can turn it around: the family needing not to live in squalor did up the house themselves, more than willingly and actually rather tastefully; the nice owners/landlords got some rent rather than a crippling mortgage for emptiness and a whole family was newly happy. Simples? I have already joined the website which allows you to help in your own area, or at least find out who in charge locally is helping/ unhelping. Empties are like chewing gum on pavements. We never noticed them: now we do.

{published courtesy of The Observer}

And here’s how the project was mentioned last week in the Scottish Parliament:

Motion S4M-01551: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/12/2011

That the Parliament welcomes the Channel 4 series,
The Great British Property Scandal, which, it believes, highlights the problem of long-term empty homes; understands that there are 25,000 long-term empty homes in Scotland; welcomes the Scottish Government’s funding for the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, which is hosted by Shelter Scotland, and further welcomes the Scottish Government’s ongoing consultation on extending council tax charges for such homes, with the intention that additional revenue raised is re-invested in affordable homes, including the re-use of empty homes.

Supported by: Adam Ingram, Sandra White, Fiona McLeod, Annabelle Ewing, Gil Paterson, Chic Brodie, James Dornan, Bill Kidd, Dennis Robertson, Margaret McDougall, John Mason, Marco Biagi, Margaret Burgess, Richard Lyle, John Finnie, Mike MacKenzie, Paul Wheelhouse, Mark McDonald, Colin Keir, Kevin Stewart, Drew Smith, David Torrance, Gordon MacDonald

4 highlights of work this year

As the debt burden of time edges towards the apocalyptic default of destiny, it’s comforting to sit here by the fire with my Sobranie and peat single malt and reflect on the year that was for me at work. It was a fine year, nay a vintage one, and the 4 things that gave me most satisfaction were:

January: The Big Fish Fight with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – the year started by taking online campaigning around TV up a gear

May: Live from the Clinic including My HealthChecker – using Embarrassing Bodies as a platform to experiment with Skype on live TV and data gathering, saving the NHS over 400 grand in the process

July: The Sexperience 1000 – given how cliched data visualisation has already become, an attempt to liven it up

December: The Great British Property Scandal with George Clarke – finished the year as I began with some full-on campaigning

So I’ll sit on here, puff away, muse idly on the last twelve months, and watch the counter on The Great British Property Scandal tick over towards that 100,000…

 

The Great British Property Scandal

So here’s what it’s all about:

After just over 24 hours more than 52,000 have joined the campaign

Our Intrepid Leader (George 'Homeboy' Clarke)

It’s been a pretty tough project but that backing plus the following have made it worth the blood, sweat and tears: before the season even started transmitting this multiplatform commission prompted a debate about the senseless waste of empty homes in the House of Commons. I’m just back from an event in Parliament with George Clarke fronting our C4 delegation to rally more MPs behind the initiative, including the committed Lib-Dem Andrew Stunell and the shadow minister for Housing Jack Dromey.

George with The Great British Property Scandal literally on his mind

Here’s the extract from Hansard:

29 Nov 2011:

Empty Homes

Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con): It is an honour to have secured this Adjournment debate on empty homes. It is an issue that I and many Members on both sides of the Chamber have raised in recent weeks and months. Indeed, only last week, three Members asked about empty homes during the ministerial statement on housing.

I became involved in the issue of empty homes because of my deep concern about overdevelopment in my Colne Valley constituency in west Yorkshire. It is home to the lovely towns of Slaithwaite, Marsden, Holmfirth, Honley, the Huddersfield suburbs of Lindley and Birchencliffe and many more beautiful areas. I was concerned that our beautiful Pennine countryside was set to be dug up for new identikit homes.

The idea of green fields being developed is bad enough, but it defies all logic to be doing it while thousands of existing empty properties are being left to rot. In fact, my local council, Kirklees, has just voted for a local development framework that will impose 22,470 new homes in the district over the next 15 years, with some going on green belt. I say, bring Britain’s empty homes back into use first.

There is a groundswell of support for the empty homes campaign. I have to admit that I am a big fan of Channel 4 shows such as “Grand Designs” and “Restoration Man”. The presenter of the latter show, George Clarke, will be telling the nation about the scandal of Britain’s empty homes in a forthcoming series on Channel 4 next Monday and Tuesday evening—that is the plug out of the way.

What is an empty home? Homes are left empty for a number of reasons—for example, when they are between tenants, being refurbished, in probate or when the owner is in care or hospital. For the purposes of this campaign and this debate, however, we are primarily talking about long-term empty homes. These are properties that are stuck empty, and I believe that getting those houses back into use could be a quick and relatively inexpensive way of providing more housing.

7.17 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Andrew Stunell): Like my hon. Friend, I have been in contact with George Clarke and Channel 4, and I am happy to add a second endorsement of the programme on empty homes that they are developing. He, I and they are appalled at the scandal that 250,000 properties [see how the Government manage to make 100,000 disappear - just like that?] are empty when millions of people are on waiting lists, anxiously looking for homes and unable to find them. As well as being eyesores and as well as easily falling into disrepair, empty homes are often an expensive menace to communities and public services, attracting antisocial behaviour, squatting and vandalism.

The Government know very well that we need to build more homes, more quickly, and the housing strategy statement made in the House by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Local Government last Monday shows real earnest intent. At the same time, we have to make better use of our existing homes, as that is better for communities, for the environment and for the families who have the new home to live in. We have been working on ways to bring empty homes back into use, and tackling those homes is one of the key pledges that we made in the housing strategy.

Add your name to the campaign to fill Britain’s empty homes here

Here’s the season trail:

Update 8/12/11:

It’s Thursday night now, 72 hours on, and we have over 91,000 signed-up supporters on the site. Way beyond my expectations. 100,000 is a key number as that enables a parliamentary debate to be triggered. Turn, little counter, turn.

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