Nik Butler: Dick the butcher, landlords, and devious card sharp tricks

JPCT 120314 S14110969x Nik Butler -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141203-095917001
JPCT 120314 S14110969x Nik Butler -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141203-095917001

Dick the butcher springs to mind this week.

Stop sniggering in the back, this article is an education not an opportunity for sixth form immaturity.

Dick is a character from part two of Shakespeare’s play Henry VI and his line is often quoted in pub conversations: ‘The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.’

For its time, and in its era, that character’s conversation along with Cade reflected some of the injustices suffered by society. This week I wonder if Shakespeare would update his writing to amend the line thusly: ‘The first thing we do, let’s kill all the landlords.’ It appears at every turn in this town on streets now restored by planning permission and building work, opulent flats and affordable houses are springing up and in all of this property development comes a hidden cost to our community which will be carried into each generation.

The culmination of this moment was the £7million loan to Saxon Weald for redevelopment of Winterton Court. At first glance this appears to be a suitable arrangement for the public, council and corporate; until you look a little closer.

The agenda and executive summary of the Council meeting suggests capital funding might be partly raised by means of this loan and if necessary by a grant from previous section 106 affordable housing contributions.

Take a moment to read back through that.

Section 106 money is normally paid into the council by developers. Does it not strike anyone else as a little circuitous that such money can be rotated back to the accounts of another developer by such means. There might be another word for that but I doubt I am allowed to make the suggestion. The loan pays back over 15 years and the interest rates are a little obscure. Let me be clear though; this is not a comment on Saxon Weald but rather the position we have come to as a society. We seem unable to follow the money as we race from the debts.

The capital generated by ‘social landlords’ for the provision of affordable and other care homes comes from the public who rent those properties. The same public whose taxes provide the finances for a council.

I feel like a spectator on the edge of a crowd watching someone play hide the queen with three cards; I don’t think this game is in the renters’ favour.