Westminster Council and the Cockroach Cock-Up

cockroach

We were more than a little surprised to hear that spiteful Westminster Council are putting up homeless families in 4 star hotels:

According to the Mail :

” A council in London is spending thousands of pounds housing homeless families in three and four star hotels because it has nowhere else to put them, it has been reported. Westminster City Council is spending up to £12,000 a month for a family to be housed in a hotel. According to the BBC London investigation, many of the families have been made homeless because their housing benefits were capped last year.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2275256/Westminster-City-Council-puts-homeless-families-star-hotels-them.html#axzz2KIDsKcm1

This is appears to be at extreme odds with the type of B &B accommodation usually used by WC.

Previously, they were fined thousands by the Local Government Ombudsman for placing families in cockroach infested hostels.

A council has been criticised for allowing homeless people to stay in a run-down hotel in London, where mothers reported finding cockroaches in their children’s mouths. Westminster City Council has been ordered to pay £5,000 compensation each to six people who endured “horrific” conditions in the Clarendon Court Hotel in Maida Vale. More than 240 homeless people stayed in the hotel for asylum seekers and homeless people.

Overcrowding was so bad, several people were forced to share each of the beds. The building itself was described as being in a “shocking” state of disrepair and there was only one kitchen for every 50 residents. In its heyday the hotel had been used by touring cricket teams playing at nearby Lords.

After investigating, Local Government Ombudsman Edward Osmotherly found the council guilty of maladministration and failing in its duties to homeless people

He severely criticised Conservative-controlled Westminster for failing to take action against the landlords for five years, despite the fact that the council was aware of conditions at the hotel. Housing officer Ann MacNicholas told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I remember one family in particular which was a couple with a toddler, I believe they were refugees. “They were concerned about conditions in the hotel and cockroaches particularly as they had a toddler. “They found them near him and near his cot. They were particularly distressed by that.” The report said the council knew about the cockroach infestation from January 1992 onwards but it failed to take any action against the owners of the hotel for another four years.

Westminster continued to pay the Clarendon Court Hotel housing benefit for the residents’ rent during this period – at one stage totalling £14,000 a week – and only took action because of “external pressure”.

Mr Osmotherly said: “I can’t understand why the council did not take action sooner than it did. “What happened at the end of 1995 some councillors aided by the media, got a campaign up about conditions in the hotel and within six months of that the council issued five notices under three different acts of Parliament requiring the owners to improve conditions.

Full apology demanded “What I said in my report was I thought that triggered the council into action.” Karen Buck, who led the campaign to expose the hotel conditions as a councillor and who is now an MP, said: “Basically the council turned a blind eye to the conditions of people living there.” The ombudsman has recommended the council should offer £1,000 compensation to the six families but Ms Buck believes they should also be offered a full apology.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/231279.stm

No doubt wrinkly rogue Shirley Porter was rubbing her hands in glee at the treatment meted out to vulnerable families:

” Yesterday’s damning report from the local government ombudsman is the latest in a long saga of scandals involving Westminster council, which date back to the late 1980s and early 1990s when Dame Shirley Porter was council leader. The owners of the Clarenden Court Hotel in Maida Vale were among many property developers who raked in housing benefit from the council while accommodating homeless families in appalling conditions. The scandal is linked to Dame Shirley’s involvement in the infamous ‘homes for votes’ affair where she was found guilty by the district auditor of wilful misconduct and gerrymandering.

Dame Shirley had targeted eight marginal council wards for a large-scale sale of council houses to prevent Labour from winning control of the council. The emptying of these homes for sale meant that the homeless were dumped either outside the borough or in places like the Clarendon Court.

Dame Shirley was last year ordered by a High Court judge, with David Weeks, then deputy leader, to pay over pounds 27 million in surcharges. She is currently appealing against the decision after moving most of her assets abroad and dividing her exile between Tel Aviv in Israel and Palm Springs in California.

The council was also admonished by the district auditor for selling off three Westminster cemeteries outside the borough for just 15p each. The council was forced to buy them back after they fell into disrepair. But the surplus land attached to them was sold on by property developers for housing at an enormous profit.

Westminster council was also condemned by an independent local government report which found that homeless families had been dumped by the authority in asbestos-ridden flats at great risk to their health. The families had to be moved out while essential repairs were made.

According to the local government ombudsman’s office, Westminster council has been found guilty of maladministration and injustice no fewer than 22 times over the last five years. These cases include several relating to housing benefit and homelessness.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/1998/dec/10/uk.politicalnews

They really are a filthy council.

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