Tuesday, 5 January 2016

More From the Nasty Party

As all probation staff are only too well aware, access to safe and secure accommodation is a key prerequisite of helping people sustain a crime-free life, but the Tories are about to make things that much more difficult. This from the Guardian:-

The End of Council Housing

On Tuesday, the House of Commons will once again debate the government’s new housing and planning bill, hyped up as the key to “transforming generation rent into generation buy”, which will supposedly mark another big step towards the age-old Tory dream of a property-owning democracy. But tangled up in its visions of thousands of new “starter homes” – 5,000 more of which were promised on Monday, when the government said it was going to directly commission housebuilding on five sites in the south of England – are an array of drastic measures aimed at what remains of England’s council homes. Labour sees the bill as the work of a government set on nothing less than the end of council housing as we know it – and on the ground, plenty of people agree.

Among the bill’s scores of proposals are a few that cut straight to the heart of what council housing has traditionally been all about. For a start, the government wants to end the system of permanent council tenancies – which was cemented while Margaret Thatcher was in power – and replace it with arrangements that will be reviewed every two to five years, meaning that for new tenants, council housing will no longer represent anything secure or dependable, let alone be passed between generations.

There are also plans to introduce a policy for council tenants known as pay to stay, whereby households that collectively earn more than £30,000 a year (£40,000 in London) could be presented with a choice: either move out, or be charged rents “at market or near market levels” (or, weirdly enough, work less). At the same time – and this is where it all gets almost comically complicated – so as to subsidise housing associations that will now have to sell houses and flats under a newly extended right-to-buy scheme, councils are to be forced to sell their highest-value homes as soon as they become vacant.

No one is sure how any of this will work, and the government seems to be making things up as it goes along: on Monday, for example, David Cameron announced that for every high-value council house sold in London, two supposedly “affordable” homes would be built – but there was no suggestion of any kind of like-for-like replacement. The essential story, then, seems pretty clear: a drastic attack on council housing, which will become not just less secure, but restricted to an ever smaller share of the population, just when Britain’s housing crisis has never been more acute.

How did we end up here? Just under 8% of us now live in council housing; in 1979, the figure was 42%. From the end of the 19th century onwards, the idea of the state providing people with secure and dependable places to live had steadily gained ground. The origin of council housing lies in the Housing of the Working Classes Act of 1890: three years later, the first council estate – Boundary Street, on the border of Shoreditch and Bethnal Green – was built in east London. By the time Britain entered the era after the second world war, both Conservative and Labour governments were building council houses in huge numbers – indeed, the annual number of new builds peaked under the Tories in 1953 at 220,000.

The history and legacy of all this is a little more mixed than some accounts suggest, partly bound up with the decline of building standards under Conservative rule, estates built on the edge of towns and cities that became bywords for inequality, and high-rise developments that quickly fell into decay. But at the heart of what happened was a simple ideal – of dependable housing for everyone – and a plain social fact: that to live in a council house was perfectly normal.

All that began to change in 1980, when the Thatcher government rolled out the right to buy, an idea that had been around since the late 1950s when a form of it was proposed by the Labour party. This new version was based on huge discounts, 100% mortgages – and the insistence that councils should use the 50% of the receipts they were allowed to keep to pay down their debts rather than building new houses.

As the writer Lynsey Hanley – whose 2007 memoir-cum-social history Estates remains the modern set text about council housing – puts it, from then on: “People wanted to think of themselves as being self-sufficient units. They didn’t want to think of themselves as having a kind of reliance on the state … It became a fundamental plank of the kind of ‘British values’ culture.” Between 1979 and 2013, 1.6m council homes were sold, numbers of new homes plummeted and council housing went from an inbuilt part of the post-war settlement to something pushed to the social margins.

In the meantime, the term “social housing” entered the British vocabulary as councils were superseded by independent housing associations – whose “assured” tenancies tended to be that bit less dependable than the secure terms available in what remained of the country’s council housing. Indeed, from 1997 onwards, the Blair and Brown governments proved to be more interested in housing associations than the traditional idea of council homes: in the 13 years they were in power, a mere 7,870 council houses were built.

And in popular culture, stereotypes that had been given new life in the 1980s eventually went nuclear: the mid-to-late New Labour period, let us not forget, was the era of Little Britain’s council-estate grotesque Vicky Pollard, the hairstyle maligned as the council-house facelift, and the bundling-up of council housing in the same dread category as “chavs” and welfare scroungers.

The views of council housing in both politics and culture, in fact, were intertwined. As Hanley puts it: “There was no urge on Labour’s part to reclaim the best parts of council housing’s legacy … If they’d restored the good name of council housing while they were in power, the Tories wouldn’t have been in such a good position to wreck it now.” (Jeremy Corbyn, by contrast, has said that there is no convincing solution to the housing crisis that “does not start with a new, very large, very active council housebuilding project”.)

No one expected David Cameron and George Osborne to be any kind of friends to council housing, but their record still beggars belief. Government investment in social rented housing was cut by two-thirds almost as soon as the Tory/Lib Dem coalition took power. In 2012, jump leads were put on the right to buy when the maximum discount available to tenants was doubled to £75,000 – and a year later, the figure went up to £100,000 in London. The government accompanied this with a pledge to replace every home that was sold, but at the last count, for every nine houses sold, only one was being replaced.

Which brings us to now, and the latest legislation. “This bill has 33 new powers for the secretary of state over housing and planning,” says John Healey, a Labour MP and former shadow housing minister. He is particularly irate about the new income thresholds for social housing – which, as far as he understands it, will be discretionary for housing associations, but compulsory for councils. “That is going to catch a swath of ordinary-income families: people who are not earning a fortune, are working hard … Their low rents and long-term tenancies are an important part of their lives, and they’ll get taken away. Some of these people are the same ones who would have been hit by the tax credit cuts.”

He points out that the new “starter homes” the government talks about are set to sell for up to £250,00 outside London and £450,000 in the capital itself, which will hardly make them accessible to many existing tenants. All told, he says: “It’s clear to me that the Tories are killing off council housing, and this bill tightens the noose yet further.”


This from Steve Hilditch on the Red Brick blogsite:- 

A bitter pill to swallow

I had intended not to write any blogposts during my extended visit to the antipodes this winter. But the addition of new clauses at very short notice to the Housing and Planning Bill which introduce ‘mandatory fixed term tenancies’ of 2 to 5 years and end security of tenure for new council tenants touches a raw nerve for me. This is a smash and grab raid, stealing a core right from tenants with no real opportunity for debate outside the Bill committee. I am delighted Labour has opposed the change forcefully.

The policy, and the stealth with which it has been introduced, is symbolic of the contempt and loathing this government shows for people on low incomes. They can be moved around like pieces on a chess board to suit the convenience of the government and landlords, or at least be kept in a state of uncertainty as their ability to stay in their home while they are ‘reviewed’ by a housing officer in what will feel like an arbitrary manner. They must not be allowed to settle, to integrate into communities, to put down roots, to provide stability for their children, to build successful lives for themselves.

For people like me, who associate our own ‘social mobility’ with the platform of security and stability achieved by our families due to living in council housing, this is a bitter pill to swallow.

The Tories are not the only people to blame, of course. During her short period as housing minister, Caroline Flint flirted with this idea as well, and plenty of housing ‘professionals’ have made the case for ending what they like to call ‘lifetime tenancies’ – an invented term, quickly picked up by Grant Shapps to make the whole business seem unreasonable. Even now the ethically impoverished National Housing Federation can’t bring itself to defend what remain of tenants’ rights: their argument is that housing associations should be able to let ‘their’ homes to whoever they like and on whatever terms they like. At present they have got their way: the new fixed term tenancy model will apply only to councils while the government continues to work out what to do about the reclassification of housing associations as public sector for the purpose of defining public borrowing.

The story of security of tenure for council tenants is one of bitter struggle. Councils have not always been benign landlords. Even when they wanted to build a lot of council housing to help emancipate the working class they often managed the homes with a rod of iron. They never really shed the mantle of Octavia Hill and consumer rights were a foreign land. Some used the threat of eviction to exert social control and to separate the deserving from the undeserving poor. Labour eventually listened to the case for a charter of tenants’ rights and the Callaghan government sought to enact security of tenure, balanced by strong grounds for possession. Unlikely as it now seems, it was the Thatcher government that put ‘secure tenancies’ into law in the 1980 Act, picking up the Labour legislation and realising quickly that secure tenancies were a necessary foundation for the ‘right to buy’. Thatcher had an ulterior motive, but the tenants’ charter came into existence and brought with it a profound change in the style of housing management, more considered, more balanced, more respectful, more participative, and, when eviction was thought necessary, more evidence-based requiring a judgement in a court of law. Secure tenancies underpinned the modernisation of the social housing sector, even leading eventually (and regrettably) to tenants being called ‘customers’.

Social rented housing is our most precious housing asset. It’s existence broke the historic inevitability that people on low incomes and vulnerable people would also endure homelessness and dreadful housing conditions. It removed the blight of bad housing from generations of children. In my view it was the strongest mechanism of all to achieve genuine social mobility and to give children born into poor families similar opportunities to those enjoyed by better-off families. Many of the key tensions around social housing – the most controversial being who gets it, and who doesn’t – arise not from failure but from its success and popularity and the shortage of supply.

Of course the government and big parts of the housing industry will seek to pacify opponents of the change. It will be helpful to tenants, they say, to have their tenancies reviewed every 2 or 5 years. Most will be renewed, they say. Well, what is the point of that? The policy fails in either direction. If non-renewal is the primary outcome, the vast majority of tenants will end up in private renting, far less suitable for families and more expensive for tenants and the state. If most fixed term tenancies are renewed, the policy will not achieve its purpose of getting more turnover to create more space for new tenants. The argument that the government is trying to make that people will be helped into owner occupation is, well, pants. A few more will exercise the right to buy, but where is the justice in that? Remain a tenant and get kicked out, buy and you can stay.

We now have a sector that, instead of managing estates effectively and helping tenants to progress in their lives, will be collecting vast quantities of data about their incomes in case they are ‘high earning’ (£30k per household), monitoring what they get up to so they can review their tenancy every few years, and of course checking the immigration status of new tenants to boot. The new Victorians are firmly in charge.

There is an old saying that to incentivise the rich you have to make them richer, to incentivise the poor you have to make them poorer. This is now writ large in housing. If you are or are able to become a home owner, all manner of gifts – let’s call them subsidies – will be showered on you. The Prime Minister will talk endlessly about the important security and stability that being a home owner gives you, and that this in turn creates the conditions for social advancement. Meanwhile, if you are a social tenant, you will be accused of being subsidised even when you are not, your ability to pay your rent will be constantly threatened by bedroom tax or benefit caps or benefit sanctions, you will be denigrated and demonised in the media, and your ability to stay in your home will be subject to the whim of a landlord even if you meet all the terms of your tenancy.

Security for me and not for you. Subsidy for me and not for you. Social status for me and not for you. Insecurity at work and now at home. A two nation government without a doubt.


  1. Thank you Jim. This is the place to come to find out what's going on, it's appreciated. I would say that the 'two nation'society would not be an unintended consequence, but the actual purpose of policies such as these. Even if policies result in a greater cost to the taxpayer, that's okay as long as the cash is going into the right pockets. Privatise the profit, socialise the loss.

  2. I'm not a Tory and can see huge flaws in this policy. I can see, however, some rational. For instance, I agree that council houses should not be a tenancy for life in all cases and not should it be passed between generations. As a middle income earner I get literally no benefits from this system and I'm always broke after paying the bills. My neighbours for instance, that do not work, have more than me after paying the bills while also having the luxury of a nice sized council house, free school meals for their kids, can afford a nice car, go on annual holidays, etc. In real terms I do more and should have more but in fact I have less and my kids lose out as I'm working all hours to make ends meet. Yes sell the council houses and do a bit more for the middle income earners, for that the Tories would get my vote.

    1. Tell us more about the demographics of your neighbours - age, sickness, race. I bet they smoke and drink as well. Why don't they work? You could tell them they would get some tax relief on their mortgage and, like you, they would have an asset likely to rise in value. Do they own a car or go on holiday? You know an awful lot about your neighbours, but they don't know what you are really thinking, do they? What do you want the Tories to do for the middle earners? Let's hope you don't lose your job as you would then be in trouble, because, if you haven't already understood, it's sink or swim with the Tories.

    2. @Anon 8:14 Can you explain exactly how policies like this "do a bit more for the middle income earners"? Taking security and stability away from hundreds of thousands of families does nothing to improve your lot, you know, unless for some reason your neighbour losing out makes you feel better about yourself. Policies like this are going to break up communities and families, causing untold social damage, whilst doing little to improve the housing situation (the articles make it clear that sold off council housing stock is never adequately replaced and mostly ends up in the hands of private landlords after a few years), and drive up the prices of residential property beyond the reach of those unfortunate enough not to be in a position to own their own homes already - many of whom are already "middle income earners". Ending secure tenancies in social housing without proper reform of the private rented sector is a recipe for misery for millions of people.

      And as for "I get literally no benefits from this system"... so you've never had a day off in your life (statutory sick pay)? Not going to claim your state pension? Never used the NHS? Didn't get a state education or have children who do?

      The whole point of Tory welfare policy at the moment is creating false divisions between people in the lower 90% of the income scale, so that they don't notice the absurd level of wealth flowing upwards to the top 10% - and you appear to be falling for it.

    3. Good points but it can't be ignored that a council house for life is unfair, even more unfair if the tenancy is then passed down through the family. It's also unfair they then may get to buy it for £100k less than the current value. So yes, it's a good idea to review tenancies every few years and for those that can to move out and let the property to go to somebody that cannot afford to house themself. In the meantime why don't we all get £100k reimbursement from the government on our house purchases?, why don't all our children have inheritance tax waived when we pass on our houses to them?, and automatic council tenancies as an alternative?, etc, etc

  3. After years of being an army wife, I was left on my own with 2 children and was entitled to nothing. A council house would have been some kind of security to get me on my feet, but the waiting list was sooooo long I didn't have a chance. So in one way these people who have them for life and then can pass them down means that someone like me was not able to get a break. I was fortunate in that i moved up north left all my family behind and was able to secure a small mortgage to house my family, working where ever I could to get the bills paid. It was very hard but I did it, so I do believe Council houses once an occupant has a job and can pay their own way should be put back into the system so another can benefit. Sorry if that seems wrong to some, but the only thing I would question is the price of private housing, it's far in excess of a normal working wage, and in todays climate of restructuring of companies and redundancies it's a scary place to be with a mortgage, or living in private rented accommodation. The fact they want to sell an ever depleting stock of Council houses is very worrying. I believe people need Council housing, but not always for life.

    1. The crux of the problem is not lifetime tenancies of council housing – it's the decline in council housing, caused by selling them off and not building replacements. Under the proposed changes, council tenants who can, will surely buy their homes, as they will get a discount – if they can get a mortgage. And though an annual household income of £30,000 is labelled 'high earning', it may not be enough to secure a mortgage.

      Maybe, owner-occupier obesssion is the problem. It creates asset bubbles, causes crashes and leaves those who are in the wrong part of the cycle with negative equity.

      Singapore is not noted for its socialism and yet all land is owned by the government and 85% of housing is supplied by the government-owned housing corporation. No stigma to being in social housing there, but here it's a different story.

  4. Always there are tricky circumstances for some, whilst beneficial for others. It just depends where your scruples lie. A past acquaintance bought their council house for next to nothing in 1997 (£7,500 if he is to be believd) and sold it five years later for £150,000. The profits were reinvested in buying other council houses at preferential rates ("you just need contacts"), some of which became multi-occupancy flats at full market rate whilst others were again sold on. In ten years he was a multi millionaire & relocated to live in luxury in rural Europe. No taxes return to the UK; he makes no capital expenditure in the UK. So our local authority has lost around fifteen 3/4 bed properties. The bedsits are beyond the reach of single occupancy benefit rates (advertised as "no unemployed"), the houses sold at full market rate (about £285,000 today).

    My point being that corruption & greed are at the heart of inequality, traits which the UK government has heartily underpinned - without pausing for breath - since 1979. What Tories & their ideological supporters might regard as "opportunity" or "entrepreneurial spirit", others might see as exploitation for personal gain. A bit like the argument surrounding MPs expenses. Or, historically, probation expenses which became capped, receipt-based reimbursements after cynical individuals saw their expenses as a matter of 'entitlement' & structured their days to claim everything possible. In 1992 a PO in our office revealed his monthly expenses at a team meeting; they were more than my PSA salary. He described it as "a perk of my position - it comes with the job."

    Its an attitude, I guess, but not one I like or subscribe to.

  5. I went to Manchester shopping on Saturday last the first time in a long time and was appalled at the number of visible homeless on the streets in the middle of the day.....once this policy gets going expect to see many more...this...is the likely outcome......

    1. It's ok because disused army bases can be redeveloped to house families. Remember that from 2013/2014? Wonder how long until this government try to make it a reality.

    2. No chance. I lived on a large RAF base called RAF Hemswell when I was a kid, its now called Hemswell Cliffe. I went back a few years ago and they had sold it to a private landlords in lots, who then sold it off to private buyers. It was in the middle of nowhere but gave a cheaper housing option as alot of the houses needed extensive works, but there was no council properties it was all private. It still looks like a military patch to me but the prices now are alot higher if they want to sell.

  6. I can see the appeal of investing in property, more so since I am likely to be robbed of my pension by the privateers I now work for. My 27 years service will become worthless when I'm made redundant soon and any savings wont last long. People need to think ahead and do what they can for themselves. No doubt the sanctimonious will pipe up now

  7. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-35233144?ns_mchannel=social&ns_campaign=bbc_wales_news&ns_source=twitter&ns_linkname=wales

    1. David Braddon's killing of Conner Marshall 'not predictable'

      Probation workers could not have predicted a man under their supervision would go on to kill a teenager in a case of mistaken identity, a report has concluded. Conner Marshall, 18, from Barry, died four days after he was attacked at a Porthcawl caravan park in March 2015.

      David Braddon, 26, of Caerphilly, who was being monitored at the time, was jailed for life for his murder. Mr Marshall's family claims he should have been more tightly supervised.

      At the time of the killing, Braddon was being monitored by probation workers after he was convicted for drugs offences and assaulting a police officer.

      A report by the National Offender Management Service found he had missed some follow-up appointments and there were times staff could have "monitored his community order more robustly". But it concluded staff could not have known he would go on to commit such a violent act.

      Conner Marshall was found in a life-threatening condition after being beaten with a pole at Trecco Bay caravan park.

      "Given the limitations of managing offenders subject to community orders, there was nothing the offender manager could have done which would have predicted or prevented the offence," the report said. "It is clear from the review that no one could have foreseen that David Braddon would go on to commit such a devastating offence.

      "When an offender is being supervised in the community, it is simply not possible to eliminate risk altogether," it concluded. However, the review did make a number of recommendations including:

      improving the way pre-sentence reports are written up
      Wales Community Rehabilitation Company team managers should improve the way they supervise staff and risk management
      better communication probation workers to support consistent risk management

      Mr Marshall's mother Nadine Marshall claims the attack might never have happened if Braddon had been more tightly monitored.

      "David Braddon was a time bomb... He should have had tighter controls, better management," she said. Mr Marshall's family have been given a summary of the report, but have collected a petition of more than 2,300 signatures calling for the full version to be made public.

      A Ministry of Justice spokesman said serious further offences were rare but each one is taken extremely seriously and investigated fully. "Public protection is our priority and we continue carefully to consider the findings in this case," he added.

    2. RIP Conner.
      This is the first time I've seen a headline like this for an SFO. Even if SFOs we're assessed as 'not predictable' papers still tended to focus on improvements needed. Different for this CRC. Do they have their own public relations department to influence media? Or is MOJ helping them out at all?

    3. I would venture to suggest the reporting of this tragedy is an example of how everyone has been misled for years, from the time when politicians made claims that probation was about "offender management" or its purpose is to "protect the public." TR and the b/s that accompanied it has only served to reinforce the deception & confusion. Even NOMS still don't seem to be able to know what probation services do, if their "report" is quoted accurately in the press.

      Through the management of Orders &/or Licences &/or Formal periods of supervision imposed by the Courts, probation staff work with those convicted of committing offences, thus the various probation services - NPS & CRC - aim to reduce the risk of further offending by engaging with those individuals, and as such there is an element of public protection inherent in the role. I would also suggest this means we manage the Order, not the 'offender'.

      Probation staff are not chained 24/7 to their caseload, nor is any probation member of staff I've ever known responsible for any of their caseload committing further offences, serious or otherwise. This should not mean staff are without accountability for their professional responsibilities.

      Sadly many probation managers (pre-TR) seemed to swell with pride if someone uttered the words "public protection" or "offender management", and this was the very fuzzy, prickly stick Trusts used to beat staff into submission as preparation for the TR agenda. And because it was a political stick it never really existed, except in the minds of the ambitious or the ruthless.

      It is nevertheless a dreadful & terrible fact that Mr Marshall was killed and no discussion here will ease his family's loss.

    4. I agree with the principles outlined above. As probation staff we can't remove children, but we can (and are duty bound to) share information with those who can (safeguarding social workers); we can't detain anyone under the Mental Health Act, but we can (although we're not obliged to) share our concerns with those who can (approved mental health professionals); we can't arrest anyone, but we can (and are obliged to) disclose details of known or suspected offences to those who can (police).

      We used to be able to prosecute breaches on relatively straightforward grounds but this is now not so as CRCs don't want to be penalised for failures. We used to be able to request revocation of Licences, but this is now not such a clear-cut procedure as political, financial & commercial elements have to be balanced by senior managers. Those who supervise standalone tags have more professional autonomy & integrity within the courts than a qualified probation practitioner.

      NOMS has neutered, neutralised & made probation even more impotent than it has ever been in over 100 years yet it still has the bare faced cheek to point a finger at probation staff in such a serious & catastrophic situation.

      Lets be clear - Noms policies diluted the quality & efficacy of the pre-sentence report; Noms policies removed the time, opportunity & capacity for staff to receive meaningful professional supervision; and Noms' double-speak, fudge & lack of clarity, allied to constant change over the last 16+ years, has hindered the ability of probation staff to communicate effectively with each other, let alone anyone else. TR has only served to confabulate, confuse & conceal the reality of NOMS' responsibility for fucking probation over, and over, and over, and over.

      I can't wait for that unredacted report to hit the shelves.

    5. Like father, like son...


  8. http://www.russellwebster.com/transforming-rehabilitation-in-limbo/?utm_source=ReviveOldPost&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=ReviveOldPost

  9. There is a Change petition campaigning for the release of the full report into the management of a probation client who murdered Conner Marshall. I would urge all to support it.


    A summary of a report is unacceptable. There are always vested interests in any situation and when something goes tragically wrong it is essential that as much information as possible is in the public domain. How else can you benchmark whether anything changes for the better in the future?

    I would hope that issues such as this even the Probation Institute would make representations to the MoJ. Academics need to know what actually happened if excellence is the objective of practice.

    1. I'd like to see the report but I doubt the Probation Institute or any academic will have anything to say on the matter. Although the murder may not have been prevented, a better resourced probation service would mean better supervised offenders overall. The reality is the government has stripped, cut and sold off the probation service which removed much of the "excellence", and then stripped and cut some more. Interesting this has now led to reduced offender contact/supervision, poor information sharing and downgraded pre sentence reports now written by unqualified staff. These are so far areas that have been mentioned in the SFO article. I can see this blowing up for the MoJ.

    2. I am sure you are right in saying it's unlikely there will be any pressure from the Probation Institute to disclose the full report. But you never know, they may imagine themselves in the shoes of the victim's family.

      Equally, the unions should be calling for full disclosure. If the report, which has indicated areas of concern, points to failings that may be attributable to the break-up of the probation service, then these need highlighting as much as possible. If these reports are going to be hidden from public scrutiny, there is less likelihood of any lessons being learned. There were weaknesses identified in case management and these need to be shared across the public and private probation services, even if, in the case of the latter, they prove damaging to the share price of the conglomerates.

  10. Probation Officer6 January 2016 at 08:06

    A sad story. This happened under the government's Probation TR cuts and changes. Details are scant but the recommendations seem to touch on the impact of TR - missed appointments, pre sentence report quality and managerial risk management. If more offences like this are to be avoided the Ministry of Justice needs to get rid of Community Rehabilitation Companies and return the probation service to what it was before the privatisation and cuts. It also needs to halt the current National Probation Service's current plans (E3) to replace probation officers with unqualified staff.

  11. Off topic,but important none the less,any news on Ingeus RRP TOM,released today?

    1. They've got a fancy website!


    2. Only one director disclosed, Garry Lee Jones of an address in Epsom. Neighbour of Grayling?

  12. The RRP TOM was launched last year

  13. Update from the Change petition. MoJ will release full report to family.

    'Dear Mr and Mrs Marshall,

    Please find attached a letter from Andrew Selous MP formally committing to the release of the SFO review that you have requested. Please accept my apologies for the delay in being able to provide you with this affirmative response.'

  14. meeting to discuss the next phase of TR with respect of admin centralisation & new roles has been cancelled in Merseyside. No reasons given.

    1. Big meeting in Cardiff today with 'top' WL CRC bods from various areas. May have some news soon?

  15. From Justice Alliance Website: -

    " On 6 January 2016, leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn MP, will speak out about the importance of legal aid to secure access to justice for the most vulnerable. "


    There is a lot on Twitter - search: -

    @justallianceuk & #Voicesforjustice

    1. Cheers Andrew, reckon it's a basic human right to have access to justice, and the "nasty party" would do away it for vulnerable people.