Steve Bradley is shocked by the latest news from York. Or did he just dream it..?
Residents of a York street have reacted furiously to the decision by City of York Council’s housing allocations team to give a tenancy to a family with no criminal record and no history of claiming benefits.
Schoolteachers Christian and Harriet Jones, both 31, and their children Amber, 11, Tabitha, eight, and three-year-old twins Harry and Louis moved into their new home in York two weeks ago after the council refurbished the 4-bedroom property which had lain empty for four years. It had previously acted as a haven for drug users and underage drinkers, as well as being a target for vandals.
However council officials, expecting the news of the house being let to be welcomed by local residents, were dismayed to be inundated with complaints from local residents worried that the Jones family would dramatically alter the character of the area.
Our reporter popped into local pub, The Brown Rat, on giro day to try and gauge public opinion. Local crimelord Les Thickley, 45, told our reporter “The council must be off their heads putting these sort of people in the street. Rumour has it they even have a TV licence!”
Another resident, Arthur Dole, 62, chairman of the estates Policewatch* scheme remarked “This is typical of the council. They never think of us non-Council Tax payers.
“My family have been on benefits for nearly 20 years now and they go and house a bunch of self sufficient workers on our street. Now we will have to put up with them waking us up at eight in the morning when they go to work and we are trying to sleep off our White Lightning.”
Mr Dole also complained that the council had removed a burnt out car that had been in the Jones’ garden since 2002 and that all the downstairs windows had been replaced. “My grandson and his mates spent a full weekend smashing those windows, turns out it was a complete waste of time.”
Before you know it, the Jones’ will be on incapacity benefits and their kids will be excluded from school
Other locals joined in the criticism of the Jones’ family moving into the street. The resident burglar, Billy Robbins, 52 – who asked to remain anonymous – was disappointed to see that the refurbished house had a burglar alarm.
When he tried getting in through the windows he observed that “they all had them secure locks on them! How am I supposed to make a decent living if the council restricts my trade like this?”
Local drug dealer Wayne Scrote, 14, was also unimpressed saying, “I doubt the Jones’ kids will be into crack or M-Cat. I bet they don’t even smoke weed!”
The Jones family themselves are far more optimistic. Christian told us that he would try and integrate into his new community and promised not to raise the standards too quickly. “Who are we to impose our way of life on to our new neighbours?” he said.
His wife Harriet added “As long as the worst that happens is our car getting vandalised or the kids taking a bit of a kicking on the way home from school then we will be happy here I’m sure”
City of York Council’s housing spokesman said it was against policy to comment on individual cases. However she did say that she fully expected the whole furore to blow over and that “before you know it, the Jones’ will be on incapacity benefits and their kids will be excluded from school”.
* Policewatch is an independent group where residents watch out for police activity and liaise with their co-ordinator in order to warn criminals that the police are in the area. If you would like to start your own Policewatch then please contact Arthur Dole in the Brown Rat between 11am-11pm Monday-Sunday.