Deaths, incompetence and lies – the multimillion pound housing associations destroying lives

UK’s housing associations made record operating profits of £3.5 billion in 2017

Change must happen, this is madness.

HOUSING ORGANIZATIONS WITH CHARITY STATUS ARE BADLY DAMAGING THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE’S LIVES.

Some great work is still being done by large UK housing associations but they are now too big and too greedy to function properly. They are accountable to no-one, the regulators are a joke and have been for years. In one way or another, many thousands (most likely tens or hundreds of thousands of people) are being shat on.

THIS IS A CRISIS AND THE GOVERNMENT IS DOING NOTHING.

Post-Grenfell, the government published a social housing Green Paper in August 2018, which suggested many moves in the right direction. So far, almost none of this has been translated into action.

THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA ARE NOT REPORTING IT.

Apart from a few articles here and there (others below), the mainstream media continues to ignore how bad things now are with large housing associations and their outsourced companies, even after the Grenfell Tower social housing tragedy. The big housebuilding HAs have become property developers with a lot of old and crumbling anti-social housing on the side.

New Landlords From Hell, Dispatches Channel 4, March 2019

Link to programme https://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/on-demand/69156-001

Sanctuary Group, £198 million operating profit and in the region of £3 billion assets

Many social housing campaigners thought that a breakthrough moment may finally have come with the shocking evidence against Sanctuary Housing (one of the biggest and worst) presented on Dispatches, Channel 4, 22nd March 2019. Please see for yourself how bad things have got or search for easily found video clips. Sanctuary Housing Group continue to describe themselves as “One of the UK’s leading providers of housing, care and commercial services…” Leading providers? 

Immediately after the programme, Sanctuary Chief Executive Craig Moule’s responded to the allegation that Sanctuary appeared to have played a part in both the death of a pensioner and the development of a severe respiratory condition in a baby. “When anyone calls our values into question, it hurts.” Values!? This is about people’s lives.

Sanctuary Chief Executive Craig Moule, in denial and on over £350,000 per year

Without any reference to people’s considerable suffering (cases in Cambridgeshire, Nottinghamshire, Cornwall and Aberdeen), Moule then went on to laughably attempt to discredit the programme makers. “It struck us how little the programme makers knew about how housing associations work. It also struck us that they seemed to misunderstand our purpose.” Yet he made no effort to explain what he means by this, let alone present any evidence to support his view. Unfortunately, many folk in the Sanctuary Housing Independent Complaints Group – Countrywide (2300+ members) can immediately recognize this style of communication from Sanctuary Housing. Clueless, dishonest and completely lacking in compassion. Come on Craig and Sanctuary, what’s wrong with you? Do you actually want to appear inhuman!?

Astonishingly, the Regulator of Social Housing found ‘no breaches of standards’ by Sanctuary (Inside Housing, 26.6.19). The shameless denial, corruption and establishment cover-up is breathtaking. 

Patricia Gavighan, died after 11-day boiler repair wait

Pensioner dies in freezing home

A ‘stressed, angry and cold’ pensioner died of a heart attack following an 11-day wait for her boiler to be repaired, an inquest has heard. Patricia Gavaghan, 80, died at her home, which was maintained by Morgan Sindall, in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, on 22 December 2017. She asked a call handler at the firm if she was “meant to sit in her coat” and wait, the court was told. At the time there was an amber weather warning due to a prolonged cold spell. The hearing at Huntingdon Law Courts was told Mrs Gavaghan lived alone in Sycamore Road, in a bungalow owned by Clarion Housing and maintained by Morgan Sindall. Her family claimed the boiler system was more than 15 years old and engineers struggled to get parts to make repairs.” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-49743535

There is a growing independent facebook complaints group for Clarion tenants (1700+ members) Clarion Tenants Support Group

5-year old girl dies in broken lift

Alexys Brown, died in a broken lift

“Two companies have been fined a total of £1.5m following the death of a five-year-old girl in a disability lift. Alexys Brown died in hospital after putting her head through a broken screen in the lift at her home in Weymouth on 13 August 2015. Synergy Housing (a subsidiary of Aster Group), her family’s landlord, was fined £1m and lift company Orona Ltd was fined £533,000. Both firms pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations by failing to maintain the lift properly. At the end of the two-day hearing at Bournemouth Crown Court, Judge Stephen Climie described Alexys as “beautiful” and “priceless” and said no words of the court could ever compensate her family for their loss.” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-46874763

Undiscovered dead bodies in sheltered accommodation

“Two dead bodies are claimed to have lain undiscovered in a retirement scheme for months, sparking complaints about “callous” cuts to care support. Neighbours have urged Suffolk County Council to reinstate funding for wardens and sheltered accommodation following the tragedies at Mussidan Place in Woodbridge, which is owned by Flagship Housing. The latest body was found on August 8 after a neighbour noticed the man’s kitchen was infested with flies. Residents believe he had lain there since June, when they first complained about a bad smell. They said they were shocked by the death – but it was not the first to go unnoticed. Another body was found in February. Neighbours said the dead man’s relative told them it had been there since November last year. They said the bodies would have been found sooner if not for budget cuts stripping away wardens who used to check up on residents.https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/flagship-housing-residents-in-woodbridge-criticise-sheltered-housing-cuts-after-two-deaths-1-6226463

Ceilings collapse in housing association properties around the country, warnings ignored

L&Q tenant’s ceiling collapsed on the morning of his daughter’s birthday – six weeks after first raising the issue and warning this would happen

Record surplus for 2017-18 of £348 million

All over England, this is increasingly common amongst the corporate profit-driven housing associations. This month with L&Q, for example https://www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/housing-complaints-goodmayes-london-quadrant-1-6326741 Inside Housing also reported on this, although they chose not to show the collapsed ceiling but instead, a lovely shiny picture of L&Q offices.

Places For People, £184.5 million operating profit 2017-18

Ceilings fall in with Places For People in Bristol

In May 2018, after having called out the Places For People maintenance team more than thirty times in four years, the ceiling caved in on a support worker and her family in Bristol.

Elderly residents left for 7 months with no ceiling in Ely housing block run by Sanctuary Housing

Elderly residents left with no ceiling for seven months

I’ve previously blogged about Sanctuary tenants having ceilings collapse in on them and this continues. Early this year, the Ely Standard in Cambridge reported:- Ceiling that came crashing down in Ely sheltered housing block for the elderly still hasn’t been repaired SEVEN months on.

Charlie Bissett, whose 92-year-old mother-in-law lives there: “This is completely unacceptable for elderly residents and they are all worried about it. The fire alarm has been going off constantly too – which is quite dangerous for safety purposes because they don’t know when to leave for a fire or not.”

But if so many large housing associations really are this bad, we’d all know about it by now, wouldn’t we? How about the Peabody Trust, a well-respected name in the world of charitable housing groups, originally founded in the 1860s?

Here’s a few reviews on Trustpilot “Peabody is a joke of a company.” “One star is way too much to rate this” “Shameful. Dreadful to deal with, just a constant loop of them lying that they will take action and come back to you… Do not deal with this company if you can avoid it.” “Unresponsive and disorganized housing association.” “Dreadful customer service and no accountability.” “Hopeless.

“A picture of what our kitchen wall has looked like for about a year.”

The complaints are much the same from all tenants across the whole sector. Mould and rat-infested properties, bad or non-existent repairs and maintenance, staff who don’t listen, fire alarms not working, destruction of tenants’ property, charges for services not done, inappropriate eviction threats, breaking of data protection laws, general incompetence, lies, lies and more lies

Hyde Housing More of the same in their 2200+ open residents group – Hyde Housing Independent Resident Group

Notting Hill Genesis. Riverside. Catalyst.

They’re all at it, across the whole sector and across the whole country.

Neither government nor media are seriously bothered about these companies shitting on people who are often vulnerable or elderly or disadvantaged in some way – not forgetting the many housing association tenants and their families who, relatively speaking, are none of these. Well done to a couple of MPs who’ve spoken out in Parliament but where are the rest of you? A very large number of you know all about this.

Change must happen. Regulate them. Break the big ones up? Please spread the word, if you are in a position to do so in any way, cheers.

Textbook case

Stuff we can do – ecological and climate crisis

Consume less in general!

Reduce your intake of animal products or go vegetarian/vegan

Walk to the shops instead of driving, use public transport

Hang your washing out to dry instead of using a tumble dryer

Say no to single-use plastic. Buy reusable bags, water bottles and cups

Reduce or avoid air travel

Recycle but first reduce, and then re-use

Change your utility to a renewable energy company

Buy local, support your local organic farmers

Take your money out of banks that invest in fossil fuels and weapons, there are many ethical banks

Invest in regenerative and sustainable projects, preferably local

Use your VOTE to elect politicians who believe in climate science, take these issues seriously, and put them at the top of their political agenda!

Burness Band pics from July headliner

Thank you to photographer Rod Kidd

 

Inspired by Saturn – rock and pop musicians

Pondering my own second Saturn return next year (aaargh!), I thought it would be interesting to have a quick look at some of the wide range of musicians who have been inspired by Saturn in general. There is no shortage of musical artists who know a fair bit about astrology, some of them being accomplished astrologers themselves.

Sun Ra

When it comes to musical space cadets, the legendary Sun Ra (born Herman Poole Blount, 22nd May 1914 – 30th May 1993)  takes some beating. The extraordinary jazz man actually claimed to be from Saturn, sent to the Earth to uplift humanity by sharing universal truths from other worlds.This view of himself as a visionary from outer space became a huge part of the Sun Ra mythology. “If you are not a myth whose reality are you? If you are not a reality whose myth are you?” “The trouble with the people on this planet is they refuse to think, they refuse to believe anything except what they know.” A good introduction to Sun Ra and his Arkestra is Greatest Hits: Easy Listening For Intergalactic Travel.

Francis Dunnery

Moving forward in time, musician-astrologer Francis Dunnery originally established himself with the eighties band It Bites and as a guitarist with singer Robert Plant. An early solo success was Too Much Saturn And Not Enough Moon, a blues tune full of appropriately dry humour for his Capricorn Sun sign.

Most people reading this article will no doubt be very familiar with the astrological meaning of “the Saturn return”, so I won’t elaborate too much on that. It is of course an easily identifiable astrological cycle that most people can relate to, regardless of whether they know much about astrology or not. Saturn returns to its original position in the birth chart around the ages of 29 and 58, corresponding to a confrontation with reality and a sometimes painful growing up process.

In 1976, at the time of his Saturn return, David Bowie (natal Moon conjunct Saturn in Leo – an interpretation of his chart here) recorded Low. Bowie later guested on the track Truth for drum’n’bass star Goldie’s 1998 album Saturnz Return. A Capricorn himself, the name of Bowie’s last album Blackstar sounds suspiciously Saturnian.

Katy Perry

In the modern pop mainstream, American singer and songwriter Katy Perry is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, two of her biggest hits having been I Kissed a Girl and Roar. She talked about her Saturn return in 2014. “I’m 28… when you’re at the end of your 20s, it’s a very important growing time. It’s called the Saturn return, if you like astrology – I know it’s important for me.” Then there was Gwen Stefani and American band No Doubt with their fourth album Return Of Saturn in 2000.

Michael Stipe, the lead singer of R.E.M. was born with Sun conjunct Saturn in Capricorn, so it’s perhaps no surprise to see a track called Saturn Return on the 2001 album Reveal. Some of the intriguing lyrics:-

Birth chart for Michael Stipe from https://astrotheme.com

“Saturn is orbiting nothing

He’s off on its own

He’s breaking from home

Saturn returns when you chased down, it slows

Throw them into a new gravity

Harder to look yourself square in the eye

Easy to poke yourself, easy as pie

Easy to take off, harder to fly

Harder to wake Galileo.”

On the face of it, Paul Weller is perhaps not someone you would expect to have anything to do with astrology but the title of his 2015 album Saturns Pattern looks like a bit of a giveaway! Even more so when you find out that he has Capricorn rising and a close Mars square Saturn aspect in his natal chart.

Nao’s second album

In a collaborative project for 4AD records, Sufjan Stevens released Planetarium in 2017, which included an electro dance track Saturn. British R&B artist Nao released her album Saturn in November 2018. Touring in 2019 with Tears For Fears is another musician-astrologer Roland Orzabal. He has made no secret of his interest in astrology, with astrological references scattered throughout his lyrics and a 1996 album titled Saturnine Martial & Lunatic (a collection of B-sides and rare tracks).

The beautiful ringed planet can be heavy stuff in astrology but will no doubt continue to inspire musicians for many Saturn returns to come.

This is an edited version of an article originally published in IAM Infinity astrology magazine https://infinityastrologicalmagazine.com/

Consultations and readings available at https://www.timburnessastrologer.co.uk

 

The murder of Stephen Lawrence – an astrological perspective

On the evening of 22nd April 1993, as he was waiting for a bus with his friend Duwayne Brooks in Eltham, South East London, 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence was murdered by a gang of white youths in an unprovoked racist attack. After an initial police investigation, five suspects were arrested but not convicted. Over the following 25 years, due to the determination of Stephen’s mother and family, layer after layer of police negligence, incompetence and corruption were uncovered.

A public inquiry into the handling of Stephen’s case was held in 1998, leading to the publication of the highly influential Macpherson report, an important moment in the modern history of British criminal justice.It made seventy recommendations to policing and wider public policy in law and education.

Following a change in the “double jeopardy” law that had prevented suspects being tried twice for the same crime, and with the help of new forensic evidence, Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty of the murder of Stephen Lawrence in January 2012. Further evidence of police corruption in dealing with the case has continued to emerge since.

The birth chart of Stephen Lawrence

According to Doreen Lawrence in her book “And Still I Rise” (2006), Stephen Lawrence was born at 9.30 pm on 13th September 1974 at Greenwich District Hospital. His natal chart shows Sun in Virgo, Moon in Leo, four planets in Libra and a fairly even distribution of planets in the four elements.A Venus-Neptune-Jupiter T-square in mutable signs stands out. As part of the T-square, the square between Venus and Neptune (the closest major aspect in the chart) is a potentially visionary combination, often found in the charts of artists and musicians. It indicates a challenge to express love, harmony and beauty (Venus) in a transcendent or universal (Neptune) way. The 11th house Jupiter in Pisces shows the potential for high ideals and compassionate service to society.

According to all accounts, Stephen Lawrence was a well-rounded and popular young man with everything going for him. Before his murder, he was an A level student with a wide number of interests and dreams of becoming an architect.

The chart for the murder

The original police appeal for information and witnesses states 10.39 pm as the time of the attack. A troublesome square between Pluto in late Scorpio and Saturn in Aquarius, closely aspects the Ascendant-Descendant axis. Astrologers have long associated the combination of Saturn and Pluto with dark power, intense suffering and tumultuous struggle. The connection between the Saturn-Pluto square and “institutional corruption”, together with behind the scenes police collusion with criminals (Pluto in a murky Scorpio 12th house), is not hard to make. In addition, astrologers have long associated Pluto with the power of black men and women.

Mars in Cancer and 8th house forms a trine to Pluto and the Ascendant. A criminal (8th house) gang (Cancer) of young men (Mars) murdered Stephen, using a knife (Mars). Stephen Lawrence’s natal chart also shows a natal Mars-Pluto aspect, the conjunction, a powerful and potentially explosive energy. Mars-Pluto individuals have been known to attract violence or loss of power in circumstances beyond their control, although there is usually some degree of choice as to how this is experienced.

In 1998, Doreen Lawrence founded the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust to give young people practical help in fulfilling their dreams to work in architecture and building (Mars in Cancer and 8th house). The Trust has received lottery funding and substantial donations from many sources (the murder chart’s Moon in Taurus indicates potential financial abundance as part of the unfolding story), enabling it to help many young people through bursaries, work placements and career advice.

The long-term outcome of Stephen’s murder has been an awakening of a new awareness (Uranus and Neptune both close to being stationary) for the police and establishment authorities (Capricorn), with corresponding action and legislation to remove “institutional racism” having been successful. Or maybe not. Some have argued that much progress has been illusory (Neptune), with more fundamental change still required.

Midlife transits for Doreen Lawrence

Doreen Lawrence

At the time of the murder of her son, Doreen Lawrence (born 24th October 1952, Scorpio Sun and Capricorn Moon) had just moved into experiencing an intensified version of the astrological midlife transits that everyone has at around the age of 41 or so. The conjunction of consciousness-raising Uranus and Neptune in Capricorn, exact three times during 1993, played a key role. Shocks and awakening from Uranus, together with disillusionment and an expanded vision from Neptune, meant that her life would never be the same again.

Nelson Mandela and a Jupiter-Pluto transit

Nelson Mandela with the Lawrences

Initially the murder gained little attention. However, after a press conference the Lawrence family met Nelson Mandela in London and Mandela’s supportive words were widely reported in the media. Co-incidentally, Nelson Mandela (born 18th July, 1918) was experiencing a Jupiter square transit to his own natal Pluto in Cancer at the time – nicely symbolic of a positive intervention in the name of black familial power. The very next day, three of the prime suspects were arrested. However, the Crown Prosecution Service later dropped the charges, saying the identification evidence from Duwayne Brooks was unreliable.

 

The Daily Mail and Jupiter conjunct Uranus in Aquarius

At the Coroner’s Inquest in February 1997, the five accused young men took the witness stand. Sneering and arrogant, they refused to answer any questions. Amongst many others, Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre was not impressed. By an extraordinary co-incidence, Dacre also knew Neville Lawrence (Stephen’s father) who had done some plastering work on his house.

As Jupiter and Uranus moved to an almost exact conjunction in Aquarius on the day, Dacre and the Daily Mail published the now famous headline across its Valentine’s Day front page: “MURDERERS. The Mail accuses these men of killing. If we are wrong, let them sue us.” Below the headline were photographs of Gary Dobson, Neil Acourt, Jamie Acourt, Luke Knight and David Norris. (Above the headline was an advert for astrologer Jonathan Cainer.)

For days, the story made international headlines. It was an astonishing breakthrough moment (Jupiter conjunct Uranus), bringing new hope and optimism for those seeking justice for Stephen Lawrence and for anyone with humanitarian ideals (Aquarius). The conjunction formed a trine aspect to both the 6 degrees Libran Jupiter in the murder chart and the 6 degrees Libran Pluto in Stephen Lawrence’s natal chart, with several other planets simultaneously lining up for a striking combination.

Hope from tragedy

Microscopic evidence found on the clothing belonging to the accused led to life sentences for Gary Dobson and David Norris in January 2012 – this coincided with a Saturn trine transit to the murder chart’s Saturn. Video evidence from the 1990s showed Norris talking about “skinning” black people and setting them alight.

Baroness Lawrence

Doreen Lawrence was awarded the OBE for services to community relations in 2013, and since then she has been made a life peer in the House of Lords. As transiting Saturn formed a conjunction to her Mars in Capricorn in April 2018, Baroness Lawrence commented that after 25 years, “It is time to draw a line”.

In the murder chart, the ruling planet Jupiter (faith and optimism) is in Libra (justice) and the 10th house (making a mark on the world). This forms a very close conjunction to natal Pluto (power and darkness) in the birth chart of Stephen Lawrence, a fated (Pluto) young man.

Sometimes, hope is born from tragedy.

The above is an edited version of an article originally published in the November/December 2018 issue of the Astrological Journal magazine https://www.facebook.com/AstrologicalJournal Thank you to editor Victor Olliver. This is the bimonthly publication of the Astrological Association http://www.astrologicalassociation.com dedicated to educating the public on astrology since 1958.

Consultations and readings available at https://www.timburnessastrologer.co.uk

Tim Burness Band headlining Eppyfest – Cheltenham, 20th July 2019