Friday, 21 October 2011

Reverting back to Dickensian building fails to meet house buyers’ Great Expectations

HOW interesting it is to see the housing market seemingly reverting to values previously criticised as Dickensian and not fit for purpose.

In olden times, homes for ordinary people were almost thrown up with families packing into cramped houses with pokey bedrooms and tiny kitchens.

The end of the Victorian era saw a change with some really sturdy terrace houses built - we lived in one for ten years - where rooms had much more space.

A few decades on and the term “jerry built homes” appeared to denote those built in a hurry for the working classes and we also went through a time of rush building to replace bomb-damaged homes after the Second World War.

But there appeared to be a period of grander homes through the 1960s to 1970s before developers began to slowly tighten the screw to generate the maximum number of homes for the land they had.

Now population is still climbing, there is only a finite amount of land and a simple stroll round some of the smaller ordinary developments in Weymouth and Portland reveals that developers are really packing in homes like sardines in a can with tiny rooms and gardens.

One development I saw contained half a dozen homes on a site I would have said struggled to support three or four, another seemed to be building homes but for rabbits, not people, while a third had gone the way of so many recent developments in the borough – flats, flats and more flats.

Planners do their best to set standards and control the more aberrant schemes, but homes have to be built because people need somewhere to live, so perhaps the overall machine has lost sight of the one thing which should be paramount – what is built will still have to be lived in by human beings not battery chickens.

Housing pressure is undeniable but it seems to me that people’s Great Expectations in Hard Times all too often see buyers perhaps end up with a Bleak House.

Are increased rubbish bin collections money well spent?

RUBBISH bin collection hardly ranks in discussion terms with the nuclear debate, civil rights or divided opinions on the existence of God... but it is starting to come close.

Government pledges to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on ensuring a weekly collection of food waste from homes is pretty emotive stuff at a time when every penny is being watched like a hawk.

Fortunately a comment by one Weymouth and Portland councillor during a committee debate sent thoughts on the matter down a wholly different channel.

The member pointed out to appreciative laughter that everyone could soon have a weekly collection “just not the same stuff every week”!

Now you could view this in several ways including the possibility that one type of waste food could be collected one week and something else the next or it could be a tongue-in-cheek remark that there could be weekly collections but it wouldn’t necessarily be food every week.

If our politicians know something we don’t then may we soon look forward to the news that tin recycling will be made every week of the month but it will be beer cans on the first Friday, vegetable and fruit cans on the second Friday, pet food cans on the third Friday and all those fiddly cans with the key that always breaks on the fourth Friday.

Perhaps we could see waste newsprint split into weeks for the Times and Telegraph, a different collection day for the other broadsheets, another for most tabloids and one on its own for The Sun and the Daily Star, which would have to be put out for collection in opaque bags in order not to sully children passing them by on the way to school.

Surely the issue here can only be - is spending nearly a billion pounds on increased collections for waste a bill which is money well spent?

People must make their own minds up... and I must stop here because it’s Friday tomorrow and I’ve got to put out the beer cans.

Teetotal Andy enjoys real ale at Octoberfest

REAL ale is growing in popularity all the time and this year’s Octoberfest at Weymouth Pavilion Ocean Room was a sell out.

The event was a credit to the West Dorset branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, but what sticks in my memory most about the festival was the tremendous coup achieved by the branch who signed up Andy White as one of a number of new CAMRA members.

Some of you may say that signing Andy, a regular duty manager at the Pavilion, would be a useful contact gained by the branch, but that wasn’t the achievement which attracted my attention.

That success was down to the fact that Andy had signed up to the branch... and he’s virtually a teetotaller!

He said he doesn’t drink at work and only occasionally when he’s relaxing away from the Pavilion, but the beer festival so intrigued him that he tried a few tastes. Now he is looking forward to a few more!

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