I read with some repugnance the awful story today of Labour-controlled Norwich City Council, which has been shoeing in its own members of staff to low-rent sheltered housing rather than giving these properties to the elderly and vulnerable Norwich residents who actually deserve these properties.
Kristine Reeves, Head of Neighbourhood and Strategic Housing – on a salary of £62,000 a year, giving herself and her partner (also a council employee) a joint tenancy agreement in one of the properties at Greyhound Opening in Norwich City Centre. She charged herself just £48 a week rent – less than other elderly tenants in adjacent properties. It appears she was responsible for a policy that vacant properties in the development were advertised internally at Norwich City Council, rather than looking to house qualified tenants from the council’s own waiting list.
Ms Reeves was suspended on full pay (where have we heard that before? Oh yes – Labour controlled Haringay Council over Baby P…) but was sacked yesterday, presumably since the scandal hit the press.
Norwich Council Leader Steve Morphew seems aghast at this morally repugnant farce – yet the BBC have revealed this was a formal Council policy to assist new staff who relocated to the area. So which is it? Ignorance or complicity? And would this whole fiasco have come to light if the council weren’t selling the site for development?
And what’s the difference between Ms Reeves and her partner, and someone else living in a council flat to which they’re not entitled? Isn’t it still benefit fraud? So where’s the criminal prosecution?