Oct 2013

Liverpool Express

Seems I'm not the only one who hadn't heard of Liverpool Express (see blog story below) which somehow seems to have been created about the time of - or after? -the Liverpool Express story on the application process for the £1 homes. Check out the blog on the Daily Post website (from July! 2013) - Curiouser and Curiouser.

     And yes when you Google "Liverpool Express" you get a little known band of that name - not a Council website.

     Why does the
Council have an additional website under a .co.uk web name anyway surely .gov.uk? They have their 'normal' website at www.liverpool.gov.uk

     It appears to be to form a degree of separation for the marketing of certain roles. Just check out all the mayor videos and blog on the Express website - or not.

     Stinks of "Communications Officer".

£1 Houses - LCC Scam or Just Totally Inept?

Just seen Major Joe Anderson on Cairn's Street - 10am 09.10.13 - taking a photo opportunity with the first family to be allocated a house under the famous £1 house scheme. This scheme has received national media attention over the months since it was announced.

Back in
early 2013 the scheme was announced and open for local people to 'Express an Interest' in the scheme with a promise to those who expressed an interest would be contacted with an application/questionnaire once the minutia of the process had been decided upon internally by the council.

There were some 20 houses or so available in each of three areas of Liverpool:
Kensington, Toxteth and - I think - Huyton. Those that expressed an interest were asked to state which of the areas they were interested in.

The initiative was heralded in many of the national newspapers including the Guardian and Independent and it was not a surprise that the scheme was oversubscribed with '
over a 1000' people expressing an interest at the closing date in the first week of March 2013.

The council stated that they would get back to those applicants, which they expected to be in

This is where it starts to get more suspect.

The 'success' of the initiative was initially expounded with the large numbers who had expressed an interest. YET the council then reopened the list for a month in
May - there was no information in the public domain as to why an oversubscribed list should be reopened to allow the number of potential purchasers to swell still further.

Still no news - no emails - no letters - no phone calls - no information on the local government website. Nothing on when the questionnaires or applications would be issued.

Over the last couple of months now people have been in the local newspapers and in the national media (even the One Show) following the news that they have been allocated houses in the scheme.

Governments are all about process - be it applying for housing benefit, school dinners or applying for a £1 house - so where is the process? Where is the clarity?

I have never received a questionnaire. Others I know have never received a questionnaire or application form. So how have ANY houses been allocated under the scheme?

Liverpool City Council (LCC) website states - as it has for months - that the process is ongoing (see below). How has a family been selected to get a house on the scheme ahead of another family if the expressions of interest have not been followed through with everyone by questionnaire (to weed out those not entitled) and then application, which would have then presumably resulted in a yay or nay letter.

LCC - One Pound Houses
LCC website 'Homes for a pound' page 09.10.13

The webpage of the LCC says exactly nothing - it is 'ongoing'.

How can anyone in the council say that they have gone through a
rigorous defendable process to allocate houses on the scheme?

How can Joe Anderson as a major for the city (a job position that was hoisted on to the city without due process - but that is another issue) and the councillors enjoy the limelight they are currently loving knowing that they have an undefendable system (
assuming there is/was a system)?

Where is the openness on the process? Why not put the questionnaire/criteria etc on the website - rather than just the woolly '
have to live in Liverpool, live in the house for 5 years, and not sub-let'?

How many people who expressed an interest have been approached about applying for the scheme? - Or to put it another way how many people who expressed an interest - and may have been well suited for the scheme - remain unspoken to and ignorant that their potential house has been given to someone else?

How many people who expressed an interest
after the first closing date for the scheme have been approached?

Why was the scheme reopened after it was over subscribed?

It is an interesting scheme - as evidenced by the national interest in it - so it is embarrassing that the council have been so inept (at best) or corrupt* (at worst) in implementing it.

As for whether the scheme is some sort of
Scam or those associated with it have just been totally Inept? Well, we probably all have views on that, things will no doubt become clearer with time.

Good luck to those that have got the houses. Good luck to anyone in the process (if there is one). Good luck to those looking to find out how the council have given theses houses out.

*** UPDATE: ***

(15:00 - 09 October 2013)

After a great deal of searching found a webpage on 'Liverpool Express' - which I haven't heard of before - dated 24th April, which states that;

a) the (4000) people who expressed an interest in the scheme were being
invited to apply for the houses between the last week in April and May 7th,

b) anyone could apply for the houses even if they hadn't previously expressed an interest in the houses.

I confirm that people who expressed an interest were NOT invited to apply - neither by phone, by email nor by letter.

I am at a loss to understand what the point of registering interest was for if they then;

i) did not contact you, and

ii) then invited anyone else to apply for them anyway - it had been implied that you had had to have registered interest to be in a chance of applying for the houses.

Perhaps the wrong people had registered interest. Wonder how many council staff and friends got an email?


Incidentally - for complete clarity about me - I now know that I would not be entitled to one of these houses - but when I expressed an interest there was little criteria that had been decided on so I may have been. Other people I know that could be entitled have not been approached either.

My concern is with local government: process, transparency and accountability.

* I am not suggesting that they have been corrupt. I am however saying that the process has been so none existent and hidden that there is no way to say whether they have been either 'just' inept or whether they have been corrupt - it's great when you are hoping that those that purport to work for us are just inept.

- On another note all the sycophantic media stories on this illustrate how the vast majority of the media purely swallow and reprint press releases (maybe take a photograph) and report what told by government marketeers as a truth. -