Wednesday, 22 May 2019
Monday, 10 July 2017
Updated 11 July 2017

Council to snatch children because mother refuses dilapidated house

Calls for resignation of housing director Mike England

Report and photographs: Paul Janik
House of Horrors : Episode 1 of 5
Slough Council inflicts shoddy housing on vulnerable families

Slough Council officials repeatedly threatened a mother-of-three with eviction from her council flat unless she signed a two years lease for a dilapidated house owned by millionaire landlords.

This sensational and unbelievable scandalous bullying of vulnerable mothers with young children is normal business practice at Slough Unitary Authority, the official name for failing Slough Borough Council.

The background

A Slough Mum, 36, lived with her children in a privately-rented flat for 6 years. It was within walking distance of the High Street.

Last year, the landlord - despite many outstanding repairs - increased the rent by £300 a month. The working mother could not afford it and contacted the council.

Council staff told the mother, the council would pay the extra rent if the mother made a Housing Benefit claim for a three bedroom flat, despite the mother and her children living in a two bedroom flat. The council's instruction worried the mother because she thought it would fraudulent to claim public money for a third bedroom she did not have. To avoid being prosecuted for fraud, the mother declined the council's suggestion.

In February 2017, the mother and her three children were evicted because of the rent increase. Slough Council allocated them a small single bedroom flat at Pendeen Court in Cippenham.

Pendeen Court is council owned, has 29 flats on two stories, all have single bedrooms except one flat which has two.

Like other council housing Pendeen Court is often badly neglected. Less than two months ago it was infested with cockroaches - the same cockroaches the council were first notified about in September 2016.

The house

At the beginning of May, Slough Council offered the mother a three bedroom 1938 built terraced house at 3 Lewins Way, Cippenham.

On 15 May 2017, the mother says she arrived to inspect the house but the Estate Agent was missing. Eventually a man arrived. The mother was allowed just 10 minutes to inspect the whole house because the man was in a hurry to attend another appointment.

It was inevitable the mother would have noticed the neglected state of the outside of the house, the abundance of nasty-smelling mould and damp everywhere (despite the windows left open), the rat droppings inside the house and the internal dilapidation.

Knowing that damp causes asthma, especially in children, and seeing the house was not a clean, dry and safe home for her children, the mother refused to sign the Estate Agents' contract.

The mother's reluctance to sign upset the desperate council staff so they pressurised and bullied her to comply.

The mother repeated asked to re-visit the house with a knowledgeable friend and/or a surveyor but council staff and the Estate Agents kept refusing saying the mother must first sign a legally binding contract to live in the house for 24 months. Council staff and Estate Agents claimed there was not enough time to organise a proper visit to the house but time would be found within days of the mother signing the contract.

The more council staff and Estate Agents pressurised the mother to sign, the more the mother questioned their motive.

A month later

Nothing happened for a month. No letters or phone calls from the council or from the Estate Agents.

On Monday 26 June, a social worker from Slough Children's Services Trust Ltd, which assumed legal responsibility for the council's failing children's and education services, arrived at the mother's front door and finding she was out, put a notice in her letter box stating the council had informed them the mother and her children would be evicted by the council and made homeless on Monday 24 July 2017.

The mother was stunned.

The council's 10 pages letter

On Tuesday 27 June 2017, a letter, 10 pages long, was put through the mother's letterbox. The letter, dated 23 June 2017, was signed by

Mukhtar Ali
Housing Needs Officer
Housing Demand Team
Department of Resources, Housing and Regeneration
Slough Borough Council.

On page 1, Mr Ali declares:-

When we wrote to you informing you of the offer on 3 March 2017 (date ?) and on 11 May 2017 and the letter clearly stated that the Council considered the private rented sector (PRS) accommodation to be suitable and reasonable for you and your household and therefore reasonable for you to accept ..... therefore our duty to you under the homeless legislation has come to an end.

On page 2, in a paragraph numbered 1, Mr Ali asserts:-

I have also considered whether the accommodation offered is in the view of the Council in a reasonable condition and have used the guidance in Part 2 of the (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2012 to help guide me on the suitability of the accommodation offered itself.

Inadequately supervised and apparently confused Mr Ali failed to cite the correct name of the legislation, which is

The Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2012
Statutory Instrument 2012 No. 2601.

Still confused Mr Ali failed to notice in that Statutory Instrument (also known as Secondary Legislation) there is no "Part 2".

There is an Article 2 but that refers to the physical location of the accommodation. It does not refer to the condition of the accommodation.

On page 6, Mr Ali includes these words London Borough of Hounslow which suggests Mr Ali copied major parts of his massive 10 pages letter from another council named Hounslow. The Slough Times wonders if Mr Ali regularly plagiarises other people's work.

Also on Page 6, in a paragraph numbered 1, Mr Ali states:-

... Rashida Raizak (Social Lettings Officer) confirmed the property had been inspected by our Housing Regulations Team on 24 April 2017 and was deemed to be suitable accommodation and an agreement was made with the landlord that all remedial work would be conducted by 25 May 2017.

When the Slough Times visited the house on Tuesday 4 July 2017, no work had been started – 40 days after the council's deadline for repair work to be finished.

On Page 8 Mr Ali assured the mother:-

I am satisfied that the accommodation offered at 3 Lewins Way, Slough SL1 2UP was suitable and reasonable for you to accept.

..... you failed to accept the suitable and reasonable offer

I have also considered the information provided by our Housing Regulations Team who deemed the property to be fit for habitation as it had been inspected and signed off and agreed to be suitable to be let with minor remedial works to be carried out which had all been agreed.

The Council is, therefore ending its duty to you under Section 193 of the Housing Act 1996, Part Vii (as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002).

Your last night in temporary accommodation will therefore be the Sunday 23 July 2017. You are therefore expected to vacate the Temporary Accommodation by the very latest midday 12pm on Monday 24 July 2017.

On page 10, Mr Ali concludes with:-

In this instance your request for a review should reach the Council by the 14 July 2017.

Council determined to evict mother and children

On 26 June, Children's Social Services contacted the mother about taking her children into care because the council's housing department had told Children's Social Services the mother and her 3 young children would be evicted.

On 27 June, the council's 10 pages letter arrived, telling the mother she can appeal by 14 July.

On 28 June, the council's 2 pages eviction letter arrived. Dated 23 June it was hand-delivered. It was signed by

Parvinder Dhadli
Temporary Accommodation Officer
Housing Services
Department of Resources, Housing & Regeneration
Slough Borough Council.

The letter stated:-

I, the undersigned Parvinder Dhadli, Officer and duly authorised agent of Slough Borough Council hereby give you notice to quit and deliver up possession of the dwelling house known as 6 Pendeen Court Tamarisk Way Slough in the said Slough Borough Council as a licensee on the day of Monday 24 of July 2017 or at the end of the week of your license which will end next after the expiration of one week from service upon you of this notice.

Dated this: Monday 26 of June, twenty seventeen.

More problems with the house

Judging from the electrical cables visible on light switches dangling-off the upstairs walls, the 1938 built house has not been rewired for probably 60 to 70 years.

A second article about state of the house, now occupied by others, is pending.

The Estate Agents

The house is let by The Property Bank, 30 Windsor Road, Slough SL1 2EJ.

A separate article about this company is pending.

The Landlords

The house is owned by 70 years old Indian national Mrs Swaran Jabble, who became British a few months ago, and her 46 years old British son Mr Kulvinder Jabble.

A separate article about the landlords is pending.

After visiting the house on 4 July, spending three hours with the new tenants, seeing examples of the mould, and shoddy and unsafe conditions plus the two decaying rats in the shed, the Slough Times inevitably concluded the house was not fit for a mother and her three young children.

On 5 July, Paul Janik wrote to the council's Housing Director Mike England – since May 2016 an expensive temporary contractor renown for doing favours for acting chief executive Roger Parkin – describing the scandalous treatment of the mother.

Paul Janik told Mike England he lacked the vigour, passion and interest essential if Housing Services is ever to improve and appealed to him to resign so a hopefully better person can attempt to improve the dreadful Housing Services.

The same email was sent to the Labour Party's executive councillor for housing Mohammed Nazir seeking his resignation.

Despite copies sent simultaneously to acting chief executive Roger Parkin, Leader of the Council and chief councillor Sohail Munawar and Deputy Leader of the Council Sabia Hussain, there has been no response from anyone.

None of the 3 senior councillors and 2 top officials are interested in the dreadful treatment of the mother and her 3 young children. Uncaring indifference prevails. Shame on them. No wonder more of the public say the council's motto is:-

We do not care

The Slough Times understands other parts of Slough Council have inspected the house and found it to be in a poor condition.

The council's Housing Demands Manager Julie Render visited the house and found the state acceptable. We doubt she would chose to live there herself. If the house is not good enough for Mrs Render, why does she think it is good enough for the public ?

At present there are 4 independent witnesses willing to testify in Court about the house's poor condition plus council officials who witnessed the house's unsatisfactory state. The council may try to tamper with witnesses but anyone caught lying to the Court can be jailed.

What the council is doing to this mother, in our honest and sincere opinion, is wrong. It seems unsupervised, or inadequately supervised, council staff are planning to evict a mother and her children because the mother wanted a good safe home for her children.

No junior member of council staff should ever be allowed to evict any person. That tremendous responsibility must be undertaken by the housing director.

Slough has 33 Labour Party councillors. All seem petrified about criticising bad council performance, petrified to tell the police about continuing council corruption and they lack the morals and scruples possessed by ordinary people.

Labour councillors' primary concern is to be chosen as a Labour candidate at the next local elections. So they keep quiet about council problems and let unaccountable council staff do whatever they wish.

The vast majority of councillors lack genuine concern for the welfare of Slough's citizens.

SOLA 012148