Claiming they can't build anywhere else because there is nowhere left that hasn't been built on, L & Q's spokesman then tells us he wants to build on Walthamstow in order to bring even more people to live in our spaceless borough. In other words, Walthamstow is full, so we need to build more houses to fill it up some more.
I presume Chris Middleton does not live here himself but I do note he had so little respect for the people of this borough when he turned up to 'hear their views' recently that he didn't even bother to put on tidy clean clothes or have a shave. His attitude to the democratically expressed will of the people is also fascinating. He seems to think it a good argument that those people elected to express that will can be ignored because they have to stand for election. Much better for L&Q to send him to stand around looking scruffy in a hotel on the very edge of the borough and pretend, after 6 or 8 hours, to have consulted the public than to listen to the people that public vote for.
As an ex-gambler myself, I can say that the spokesman didn't bother to hide any of the usual 'tells' which afficionados of liar's dice, bad spin and other bullshit are used to spotting. Instead, for this paid mouthpiece, its all about 'moving forward' because L&Q thinks it is a 'big player'; bigger than the population, bigger than the council, bigger than the elected member of Parliament. I wonder what Boris Johnson will make of it all.
We have seen this kind of arrogance before from L&Q many times in its history - it is an organsiation which pretends to be looking after the homeless and vulnerable in our society (and maybe, as if by accident, they sometimes actually do that). Nevertheless, it is well-documented that the senior management do not have anyone's interests at heart than their own. I refuse to fall for this spin. They are not good landlords. Ask housing lawyers who have represented L&Q tenants what they think of this bunch and many will tell you they are not impressed. Their management were once described to me as overpaid bullies with a lot of unacccountable money, who use the homeless as the pawns by which they pursue their own self-serving careers. Their focus when talking to the minions who work for them is all about 'our people' - a phrase which appears all over their internal literature and website, but which does not mean the tenants. It means those staff who buy into the managerialist nonsense. Those who do are offered:
"Competitive salaries including annual increments, reviews and overtime where applicable, excellent holiday entitlement (up to 31 days per year),
Generous pension schemes, Non-contributory life assurance, Disability income schemes, car users allowance and mileage payments, career breaks,
personal protective equipment, generous company sick pay, eye care vouchers, employee assistance programmes including counselling and legal advice, a culture of rewarding excellent performance, email and internet access and a child care scheme." Serving the public really doesn't feature.
The staff at L&Q are instead encouraged to buy into a cult-like system of awards for compliance with the McBullshit, with awards of chocolates, flowers, champagne, team meals at restaurants, lunchtime team pizzas and take-aways, theatre tickets, bowling and ironically, even dog racing trips, to keep their minds off any nastiness they may perpetrate in their working lives - all in the name of the good the 'big player' management pretend to do.
This kind of inward 'what's-in-it-for-us' attitude has led to L&Q to be taken to the House of Lords by those tennants they claim to care about before now. But they will fight tooth and nail to ensure the public can't hold them to account. Instead, life at L&Q is a series of bribes and 'awards': "L&Q recognises the commitment of staff who have completed 25 years by awarding a special payment of £500. L&Q appreciates staff who have chosen to develop their careers with the L&Q, not only for their commitment ‘through thick and thin’ but also for their knowledge, experience and hard work.
In addition to the payment of £500, a certificate will be awarded to staff at the annual staff conference.
c) Long service related choice based training
(non work related)
On reaching 5 years’ service employees within L&Q are entitled to enrol on a course of study of their own choice. This may be non work related. All course fees will be paid by L&Q, up to a maximum of £250. Study may be by evening class, distance learning or web-based but must be undertaken wholly in the employee’s own time.
d) Retirement celebrations
Upon retirement from L&Q a contribution will be made towards retirement celebrations of £250. Please send a cheque requisition to the Human Resources Department for counter signing."
I have no idea what the carrot was for this fellow to barely get out of bed and provide us with his spokesmanlike sincerities about destroying the dog track being all for our own good, but anyway, here he is:
For more comprehensive pictures providing coverage of the consultation, I would recommend a visit to the Blackhorse Action Group's website.
London and Quadrant, incidentally, aren't just any old bunch of money-grubbers ignoring the locals, their elected representatives and any common sense. They have actually been held by the courts [R (on the application of Weaver) v London and Quadrant Housing Trust 2009 (Administrative Court)  EWCA Civ 587, Case No: B5/2008/1638/QBACF before the Rt Hon Lord Justice Richards and Hon Mrs Justice Swift DBE] to be an entity which carries out public functions - in the jargon a "functional public authority" or "hybrid authority". Statutory and other legal duties, such as compliance with the Human Rights Act apply to its decision-making. Presumably, these duties also include duties to be fair and 'Wednesbury reasonable'.
There are a number of factors in this: Quadrant operates in the field of social housing, which is 'permeated by state control' and 'influence', and 'in which registered social landlords operated closely with and took the place of local authorities'. There is 'substantial public subsidy' paid to registered social landlords, directed towards increasing the available stock of social housing. The courts have found therefore that there is a duty to cooperate with local authorities in allocating housing according to need. London and Quadrant’s situation is very different therefore from that of an ordinary commercial business, or even a charity. Not that you would know it from their recent behaviour, which has been neither charitable or businesslike. This demonstrates an arrogant combination of some of the very worst aspects of the corporate and NGO sectors, with few of their strengths.
[Updated 22 January 2010 at 17.18pm]