UK Newswire Archive
A landlord who attempted to claim that his property was exempt from HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) licensing regulations has been fined £15,000 after Lewisham Council prosecuted him for leaving his rented property in unsafe and dangerous conditions. Dr Paul Banks who owns a supposedly ‘ethical’ housing company, The Manna Housing, is known to be involved in various Permaculture and Raw food related festivals and organisations in the UK such as Buddhafield, Festival of Life, Funky Raw and Raw Food UK. It appears that Dr Banks, who prefers to be known as Paz- Spanish for peace, has for approximately 15 years lived a double life which has caused distress to many vulnerable people including young families.
Paul Banks who owns a four-storey house in Jerningham Road Lewisham, London was prosecuted following a visit to the property in May 2009 by Council officers, following a complaint from one of the tenants. It was discovered that Banks was in the middle of converting three of the floors into self-contained flats. Fourteen people were found to be living in rented rooms even though the house resembled a building site. During the inspection of the house officers found an absence of electrical power to parts of the house, unfinished kitchens and bathrooms, waste water discharging onto the ground, open unprotected trenches and dangerous electrics. Eleven contraventions of the regulations that govern houses in multiple occupation (HMO) were found, including: an absence of safety measures; unmaintained drainage and electricity; damp; disrepair; an absence of satisfactory fire precautions; numerous health and safety hazards and failure to maintain common parts, fixtures, fittings and appliances. In his defence Banks claimed that it was exempt from HMO licensing regulations by stating the house had upgraded facilities and a rearranged layout. Having multiple occupants living in the house, however, meant that it was governed by HMO regulations, which are designed to ensure that properties being rented are fit and safe to live in. Banks is reported to have said that it was the tenants’ responsibility for not being happy in the house and that they should focus on their ‘negative energy’. Banks was fined £13,000 for failure to comply with HMO management regulations and an additional £2,000 for failure to licence the property and £2,000 in costs at Woolwich Magistrates Court recently. Cllr Susan Wise, Cabinet Member for Customer Services, said: “People who pay rent in good faith have the right to expect safe conditions in which to live. Lewisham Council is keen to work with responsible landlords, preferring to work with them to improve their properties. However, we will prosecute those landlords who fail to ensure that their properties are managed properly, putting the health and safety of their tenants at risk.” A former tenant who wished to remain anonymous said “I contacted Manna Housing and Paul Banks thinking that finally I have found an ethical-minded landlord but my experience of him and his organisation has been to the contrary. It has been one of the most distressing and frustrating periods in my life and I urge others not to be taken in with promises of ‘housing with a heart’”. Paul Banks was not available for comment. Note to Editors Rebecca Tamcken is a freelance journalist and writer. firstname.lastname@example.org For More information on Paul Banks and Manna Housing visit: http://www.themannahouse.com/index.asp
18-01-2012 11:47Time for action: Target Israeli Apartheid
Talk and discussion to launch the new Corporate Watch book Targeting Israeli Apartheid: A Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Handbook
7.30pm Thurs 19th January, Friends Meeting House, Brighton
18-01-2012 11:24Mahmoud Issa Moussa Dar Issa has been held in isolation in Israeli prisons for several periods since his detention in 1993. At the time of his arrest, Mahmoud acted as manager of the Jerusalem office of a newspaper published in Umm al-Fahm, Haifa. He was sentenced to three life terms and 49 years in September 1993. By way of comparison, Israel sentenced Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti to five life terms.
18-01-2012 01:32Occupy Sheffield have come to an agreement with the proprietor of the Citadel of Hope building. At the application for Possession hearing taking place at Sheffield County Courts on 18th January, both parties will agree an end date for the occupation set for one month’s time. This stay of execution will enable negotiations to continue between the occupiers and the proprietor, to determine if there can be a proper legal basis for the use of the building. This agreement, which has only been possible due to direct and open discussions between Occupy Sheffield and the proprietor, will be ratified by tomorrow’s court proceedings.
18-01-2012 01:14This confirms what Anne and Robert have always maintained, Grampian police never interviewed the alleged abusers furthermore, Shropshire Council accepted false information of a "full investigation" and have brought false charges against Anne and Robert taking them to the High Court in an attempt to silence them. It begs the question: on whose instructions are they acting?? Look at the documents on the site
The Health and Social Care Bill is currently making its way through the Lords. Opposition to the Bill remains strong. Two NHS oncologists held a 160 mile run from the statue of Aneurin Bevan (Minister of Health in the post-war government during which the NHS was founded) in Cardiff to the Department of Health, Richmond House, Whitehall, London to protest the Bill. The local Keep Our NHS Public branch encouraged people to sign postcards opposing the Bill, to be handed in when the runners arrived, and also sent representatives to meet them in London. In other campaigning, Keep Our NHS public have also produced a letter to be sent to GPs to establish their position on the Bill.
Over 600 people enthusiastically signed post cards to David Cameron at the Notts Keep Our NHS Public stall in the Market Square on Saturday 7th January. The new Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Keep Our NHS Public branch were pleased with the response – “We had expected to be here until 3:00pm but we’d run out of post cards by 1:15pm, people are clearly ready to sign up to fight for their NHS and have been inspired today by Bevan’s Run,” said Ian Hewitt the branch convener.
Bevan’s Run is the project of two NHS oncologists from North East England – Doctors Clive Peedell and David Wilson – who ran 6 marathons in 6 days to raise public awareness of the dangers of the coalition Government’s Health and Social Care Bill. It is organised by the NHS Consultants Association (NHSCA) and supported by Keep Our NHS Public.
Sprinting off from Aneurin Bevan’s statue in Queen Street, Cardiff at 8.30am on Tuesday 10th January, Bevan’s runners eventually arrived at the Department of Health in Whitehall, London, on Sunday afternoon, 15th January.
NHSCA co-chairman, Dr Clive Peedell and NHSCA member, Dr David Wilson, ran the 160 miles in 6 days (6 marathons), to highlight the opposition of the vast majority of the medical profession to the Health and Social Care Bill, which is due to go to the report stage in the House of Lords this month.
Two cases adjourned pending the outcome of judicial review in the High Court. One defendant found guilty.
17-01-2012 19:13I have seen that the first decade of the 21st Century revealed a gradual but significant change of the British public opinion towards Palestine. Originally for my University work, this article attempts to investigate why that is the case in a mere two thousand word limit. Written in London.
Anti cuts campaigners condemn government of "haves and have yachts"
Nottinghamshire Save Our Services (Notts SOS) have condemned Education Secretary Michael Gove's suggestion that a new royal yacht be gifted to the Queen to mark the diamond jubilee.
Gove made the suggestion in a confidential letter sent to Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary and minister overseeing the celebrations, and to the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg.
In 2007, when the Royal Yacht Britannia was decommissioned, the cost of a new yacht was estimated at £60m.
Downing Street has been quick to insist there will be no government money for the project, despite the suggestion in Gove's original letter, that might be a possibility. It appears that the key source of funding will be millionaires and corporate sponsors.
The government apparently feels it cannot tax these organisation and individuals to fund public services, but is happy to ask for sizeable donations for a new royal yacht. Whether public money or not, campaigners believe that this is a kick in the teeth to those affected by the vicious cuts imposed by the coalition government.
Rather than directing money to help those afflicted by their policies, the coalition would rather fritter it away on an oversized bath toy for one of the richest people in the country.
Brian Hocknull from Notts SOS said, "We keep being told that there's no money, which is why services have to be cut. But apparently there's money enough for the Royal Wedding; money for tax breaks for Philip Green, Vodafone and Goldman Sachs; money for wars in Libya and Afghanistan; money to turn London into a police state during the Olympics; and money for a new royal yacht. It seems the only thing there isn't money for is ordinary people."
"So much for all being in it together. My local Authority has had its central government funding cut by at least 28% over 4 years which will lead to decimation of services and privatisation of many remaining ones - both resulting in many redundancies" said Richard Buckwell, Ashfield UNISON's branch secretary.
"My members also face pay cuts over 4 years, and the government is in the process of stealing £900 million from our pension funds - will this be going to fund a new royal yacht? We should be told"
Claire Taylor from Notts SOS added, "The reality of the government's so-called austerity drive is that it those at the top are shielded from it. Public sector workers see their pensions under attack and their jobs at risk; disabled people fear being forced off benefits by welfare privateers such as Atos; and unemployed people are expected to work without pay under the Work Programme.
"Meanwhile the rich keep getting richer. Despite a stagnating economy, the number of millionaires in the UK rose by 17% from 2008-11. Bankers continue to rake in massive bonuses. FTSE 100 directors have seen their total earning rise almost 75% since the 2009 recession. We are very definitely not all in this together. This is a
government defending the interests of the haves and have yachts."
Notts SOS was launched in September 2010. They oppose cuts to services, job losses and cuts in benefits and aim to support workers organisations, service users, community groups in fighting cuts in Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire. They hope to inspire confidence to think, meet and act. And to be inspired.
Evidence that the City of London Corporation is a lobbying organisation for the banks is now indisputable
The City of London Corporation brushes off suggestions that it is a lobbying organisation but as media reports yesterday showed - at the very least it certainly uses their services.
On Monday it was revealed that the Corporation are paying out a whopping £120,000 in consultancy fees to a lobbying firm, presumably in their role as a Local Authority.
However London is a tale of two cities and the Corporation has a dual role. As well as being a local authority, it’s been suggested by father William Taylor - a priest in Hackney in east London and a former City Councilor, that the Corporation is also a lobbying group for the banks - a claim it fiercely denies.
However, evidence that has recently come to light reinforces Taylor’s claim and proof that the City of London Corporation is itself a lobbying organisation for global capital is now pretty much indisputable.
In early 2010 the Corporation created and provided the initial backing for the lobbying colossus, TheCityUK (TCUK) which claims to have ‘excellent working relationships’ with HM Treasury and the FSA and seeks to ‘influence policy, regulatory and trade regimes’. They also claim to be independent and politically neutral yet pay for ‘public affairs consultancy’ on behalf of the banking sector - an activity which it is was originally supposed to fund from member subscriptions.
Their specific objective, to ‘protect and promote’ the competitive position of the UK's financial service industries, smacks of the language of the Corporation’s guilds (who swear an oath to the Lord Mayor of the City of London in similar style). And they also describe their objective to ‘ensure barriers to global trade are removed’ in a fashion that Labour peer Lord Glasman says is ‘very much in the style’ of the Corporation, who were so devoted to the ideas behind free trade that they ‘sent support for the American revolution against the will of the Crown’.
Clearly TCUK isn’t independent either. The amount of cross-over between the two bodies is alarming. Consider this - the president of the advisory council of TCUK is the Lord Mayor; the deputy chairman is head of policy at the Corporation, Stuart Fraser; and Stuart Popham, who sits on the leadership team, is also a board member for the Corporation’s EU liaison body. And when you take into account that these men are jointly ‘responsible for developing’ the banks lobbying ‘strategy’, this looks more and more like an inside job.
Co-incidentally, out of three meetings held between the City of London Corporation and government ministers, between 2010 and 2011 at least one was attended by TCUK too.
Now, this is where it really gets interesting.
In April 2011 the Corporation met with Edward Davey, minister for employment relations, consumer and postal affairs. He was halfway through a consultation on reforming the employment tribunal system, which seems to have alarmed the Corporation enough to demand a meeting with him.
The year before, The Corporation had also paid a visit to Damian Green, Minister for State to discuss the impact on the City of London of the proposed new limit on immigration.
Green went on to say in a speech on 7th September 2010, ‘We absolutely need sustainable immigration levels…. At the same time, we must be confident enough to say Britain is open for business’ and referenced an historic example of immigration providing vital ‘loans from Hanseatic merchants’ and ‘Lombard money lenders’ to argue the Corporation’s case for a points based system of entry to the UK.
When the Corporation met Mark Hoban, financial secretary to the treasury it was to discuss the International Strategy Working Group (ISWG) – a key part of TCUK’s European lobbying structure. The result of the meeting came out in a speech given by Hoban on 22nd November 2010, where he identified the need for a tax-free vehicle for investment in order to compete with European markets which already had a similar product. Just what you imagine the Corporation would be hoping for.
He also gave a speech with reference to ‘merchants from Lombardy ’in it.
What’s immediately obvious is that these speeches hold three things in common: they serve the interests of the Corporation, they are given directly after a meeting between the Corporation and government ministers and crucially they contain exactly the same idiosyncratic references to ‘merchants from Lombardy ’.
It’s as if the Corporation has typed up these speeches in advance.
Crucially, in an admission that could have been easily overlooked, Hoban refers to the IRSG in his speech as being part of ‘The City of London Corporation’. But it isn’t - right? The City UK and The City of London are separate entities.
Not according to Mark Hoban, who was sitting in the same room as both of them presumably for some time discussing the subject. Or did he just mix them up by mistake? After all, it is almost impossible to tell them apart. In any case, this was a signed-off speech and if no one noticed such a glaring error before it was handed to the minister (or before it was published on the government’s website) then that’s just bizarre.
But less bizarre perhaps when you consider that Mark Hoban’s wife, Fiona Hoban is also the assistant to the The Remembrancer - the Corporation’s official lobbyist in the House of Commons and a senior position of influence within the City.
In which case, maybe this ‘mix-up’ came about because TCUK and the City of London aren’t two distinct entities at all. In almost every way both bodies represent the same interests, the same old boy’s network and share many senior staff with each other. Effectively it seems that the Corporation and TCUK are part of one organisation – just different departments.
But don’t expect the Corporation to stop there. On other occasions, they employ a Tory-leaning PR consultancy called Quiller Consultants - this is especially true in its role as municipal authority.
The company is part of the Huntsworth group owned by Peter Gummer, also Lord Chadlington, and is a major donor of the Tory party. Gummer’s firm gives a donation to the Tory party every August but strangely, in 2008, they deviated from their usual pattern of behaviour and donated in October - the same month that the financial crisis broke out, and it was an amount almost 30 per cent above the usual value.
This fact makes it reasonable to ask the question, was it an attempt to influence Tory party policy in the wake of the financial crisis?
Lord Chadlington also has links to the Atlantic Partnership - an elite networking group set up by Michael Howard in 2001 to foster closer relations between Europe and the United States, with a remit to promote the global free-trade agenda (which sounds right up the Corporation’s square mile).
One unanswered question remains though. If the Corporation provided the initial funding to set up TheCityUK, where did it come from? Was it from the City Fund - its Local Authority and charitable assets - or was it paid for using the Corporation’s ‘private monies’? In other words was the creation of TCUK funded by the mysterious City Cash account which is most probably based on the legacy of Sir Thomas Gresham (and which should have been redistributed amongst the poor as a stipulation of his will)?
It’s also pretty hard to tell if the initial funding from the Corporation ever really stopped flowing in. TCUK kindly provide their annual report online. However, if you attempt to download it you’ll be disappointed. They reserve the right to disclose their accounts only to members. And the members are? That’s right, the financial services and the City of London. What a brilliant example of transparency. In any case, as a member of TCUK the Corporation certainly funds part of their lobbying business
These and the general activities of TCUK, (which is essentially the City’s equivalent of the Foreign Office) bring into doubt director Chris Cumming’s claim that their ‘competitiveness’ includes a commitment to ‘ethical behaviour’. When it comes to undermining democracy through lobbying, ‘ethical behaviour’ is one thing that the Corporation is clearly not putting on the table.
Whilst the vital issue of the unaccountable power of lobbyists is being discussed in parliament - the facts emerging about the role of the City of London are of heightened public interest.
So it’s no wonder then that the Corporation persistently rejects demands for transparency and refuses to publish details of its City Cash account. Because if it did publish it would be damned, for the public might know the truth about the opinion-shapers who seem to guide government policy from the Square Mile.
Over 400 years ago, the Corporation subverted the will of a dying man in order to create a financial power base, which in the 21st century would become the sole representative of the banks that we all bailed out.
Sir Thomas Gresham warns in his will that the City will face God's wrath if they ignore his dying wish. Perhaps in the shape of Father William Taylor, He has come to pass judgment.
17-01-2012 17:50Anti-fascist activist evicted from home
17-01-2012 16:55Oriental Rugs of Bath does Crowdfunding for Social Venture
Selling rugs is one of the oldest forms of capitalism – you could say it is the second oldest profession! Using the innovative, Exeter-based Crowdcube platform to sell shares, Oriental Rugs of Bath has raised half of its target £30,000, money that will help develop a UK fair-trade market for Afghani rug weavers.
17-01-2012 07:31OCCUPY Belfast activists have taken over a high-profile disused bank in the Northern Ireland city centre.
17-01-2012 06:10Missed Opportunity of UN initiative prompts campaign on African identity. TAOBQ campaign highlights issues around African identity and postulates that people of African heritage in Britain should be called African, instead of black