Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Risking the wrath of Saga

At the risk of drawing down the wrath of pensioners' organisation Saga on my head, I'm going to stick my neck out and support Conservative Bury council for telling residents, amongst them a pensioner, to clean up their own graffiti. The Mail illustrates the story with a picture of the alley concerned.

Now if some scrote tagged my wall, I'd sigh, get the solvents out and scrub it off. I'd suspect most homeowners would do the same. But just take a look at the Mail's picture again; those boundary fences are homogenous, municipal even. Not the 16' sections of individuality that private boundary fences are. And that grotty tarmac looks 'council' too. I'll bet all those graffitied homes are actually council houses.

Council tenants aren't like the rest of us. In return for their heavily subsidised £35 a week in rent, they expect superlative levels of service from the State. Around here they can throw their old mattresses out on the street confident that the council will pick them up free of charge within 24 hours, when the rest of us have to wait a fortnight and pay £20. They can allow their fences to fall into rotting heaps of weeds confident that the council will be along to put it all right. And they can demand that the council turns up to clean the graffiti from those fences. Only in this case Bury says no.

It never seems to occur to them that by abrogating any semblance of 'ownership' of the properties they occupy, they themselves are encouraging the taggers. The clients of the Client State are responsible for their own predicament.

Graffiti removal is excellent healthy exercise for pensioners. It improves wrist and upper body strength and thereby lessens the risk of falls, provides gentle cardiovascular exercise and importantly is an opportunity for socialisation of benefit to isolated single pensioners. I would go further than Bury Council. I would issue the complaining pensioners with a litre of solvent, a face mask, a pair of Marigolds and a scrubbing brush. Within a few months, graffiti will have ceased to appear.


Wrinkled Weasel said...

You are not wrong. Over the years I have had doings with Council Tenants. On the whole, with a few worthy exceptions, they believe the world owes them a living. They are happy to trash the place, or let it be trashed for them, in the sure and certain hope they will be rehoused. I had to deal with an ex-heroin addict (pregnant female) who had been rehoused several times. It took me a while to understand why the local council was not keen to go through all the effort for the Third time. I wanted to make sure she got a chance to go straight, but within weeks, the brutal ex-boyfriend had moved in and she will inevitably go through the homeless/rehousing cycle again. When I took her to see this house (it was being refurbished to a very high standard - they always have to be due to the state they end up in -, she was inclined to turn her nose up at it. Myself and the housing officer had to politely point out that she was not going to get that many choices at this stage) If its just a few spray cans you are talking about, then I am afraid it is the tip of a very lousy iceberg.

Newmania said...

When I used to deliver leaflets in Islington one of the things that struck was the incredible contrast between owned (right to buy) property and tenanted Coucil flats . Small things, a pot of flowers ,a new snazzy door knob. I became very involved with defending these people from the service charge scam by which means the left London mafia wanted to punish them.
It is sign of just how ingrained the habit of the gaping beak is that even when they had bought their property those who were original tenants were only faintly aware it was actually their property. It was suggested they should pay huge fees because they had “done well out “property “ I remember standing in front of the Town hall saying that is what we call “None of your business !”
The Conservatives under Macmillan built 300,000 pa , they were meant to be a staging post on the way out of post war statism , at least they got something done The labour Party were still imagining workers palaces that did not get finished .

Blue Eyes said...

I live in a 1955 council flat and it's well designed and the estate is mixed and fairly uneventful. Across the road is a set of 1960s towers which are pretty dire and have the police round quite regularly.

Yokel said...

And I read this on the day that I also read our national government (EU in Brussels) is minded to ban paint stripper containing dichloromethane, the only one that works!

To pinch another's tag line: "You couldn't make it up!"