Monday, 17 October 2011

When will Councillor Brian Coleman stop insulting residents who write to him

Today I was sent the email (see below) by a resident of Barnet Council who contacted their local Councillors in Totteridge for help with a housing issue ( read the last email first for the full sequence). Unfortunately for this resident, one of their local Councillors is Brian Coleman. I found his response to be heartless, crass and offensive. Apart from the rudeness of the reply, it is clear to me that it is Mr Coleman clearly should be more considered in his response given his own housing arrangements.

Given that Councillor Coleman earns over £114,000 per annum at the taxpayers expense, yet gets a flat with a subsidised rent from the Methodist Church (a flat supposedly for people in hardship), surely he could have advised the resident on various third sector organisations who may have been able to assist (or does he believe that charity is only for the rich and powerful?).

Coleman says :-
I am afraid you have to live in the real world where the Country has no money and residents will have to deal with their own issues rather than expecting "the system" to sort their lives out
Well Councillor Coleman, the country is well off enough to pay you over £114,000 a year for a series of non jobs. It is well off enough to provide you with an expense account to charge taxi's to and leave the meter running - - and it is rich enough that charities can afford to provide subsidised housing to bachelors on over £100K per annum.

I doubt that it would occur to Coleman to vacate his subsidised property and let someone in genuine need live there? Coleman also says :-
I wish you well as you seek to return to employment, however I suggest you will have to turn to the private sector for housing as there no way there will ever be enough Council Houses available
Councillor Brian Coleman is a member of the cabinet of Barnet Council. The reason that there is a shortage of Council housing in Barnet is due to a complete lack of political will to address the issue. It is yet another symptom of the abject political failure of the Brian Coleman school of politics that a genuine plea for help from a resident is met with such a response. There are days when I find writing this blog rather difficult. When I received this email today was one such moment. I am flattered that a complete stranger should trust me enough to share this with me, purely because they have read my blog. I am however completely disheartened by my complete inadequacy and impotence in being able to do anything more than offer some moral support.

I redacted the details of the Totteridge resident in respect for their privacy. I believe other news organisations are taking an interest in this story. I hope so. I hope it costs Councillor Brian Coleman dearly in the GLA elections next May ( if the Tories haven't dumped him by then - watch this space for why).

I have one further question on this subject. I will be sending an FoI shortly to Barnet Council. When the Barnet Council Standards Committee found that Brian Coleman had sent me an offensive email, they recommended that Councillors were given training in how to respond politely to emails. Did Councillor Brian Coleman or any other Councillor ever receive this training?
Councillor Brian Coleman's offensive email
Subject: Re: Letter from your constituent S****** O*****
Date: Thu, 13 Oct 2011 13:24:30 +0100
To: d******

Lack of empathy ??????

Councillors simply cannot conjure housing out of thin air and the private sector is your only option . That is a fact .

I am afraid you have to live in the real world where the Country has no money and residents will have to deal with their own issues rather than expecting "the system" to sort their lives out

This correspondence is now closed

From: S****** O*****
To: Coleman, Cllr Brian Conservative
Sent: Thu Oct 13 12:13:29 2011
Subject: RE: Letter from your constituent Sharada Osman

Dear Mr Coleman,

I am in complete shock by your lack of empathy and regard for my situation.

I have asked you for your help and you have palmed me off with a thoughtless reply.

It may interest you to know that I am presently in contact with Radio 4, my local paper and my school (who are giving me tremendous support) and I have passed on your email as a classic example of how the system is failing me and my child.

S****** O*****

> Subject: RE: Letter from your constituent S****** O****
> Date: Thu, 13 Oct 2011 09:53:19 +0100
> From:
> To: d******
> Thank you for your e mail
> I wish you well as you seek to return to employment, however I suggest
> you will have to turn to the private sector for housing as there no way
> there will ever be enough Council Houses available
> Kind regards
> -----Original Message-----
> From: S****** O****
> Sent: 04 October 2011 18:34
> To: Coleman, Cllr Brian Conservative
> Subject: Letter from your constituent S****** O****
> This message was also sent to: Cllr Alison Cornelius, Cllr Richard
> Cornelius
> S****** O*****
> * C******* C****
> W******* P*** R***
> London
> N** ***
> Phone: 0**** 3******
> Email: d******
> Tuesday 4 October 2011
> Dear Richard Cornelius, Brian Coleman and Alison Cornelius,
> I am writing to you out of desperation and in hope that someone can
> offer some help and guidance. I would be so grateful if you could read
> my email in it's entirety, I will try to be as concise as I can without
> overloading you too much with details at this point.
> I am a single parent and currently in receipt of housing benefit. I
> don't receive any child maintenance (which is never taken into account
> for anything). I am a part time student and have been talking to my lone
> parent advisor about coming off income support and working part time -
> 16 hours a week - which I was hoping to begin very soon.
> My landlord is wanting to put the rent up by a significant amount and I
> will not be able to afford the shortfall.
> I am under the old housing benefit rules The new system - Local Housing
> Allowance - which would be a higher amount (still leaving a shortfall,
> but just about manageable) could only apply to me if I break my contract
> for a week. This would mean I would have to pay a weeks rent out of my
> own pocket (which I cannot afford). I may then be able to apply for
> discretionary housing award to help top up my housing benefit
> - however this can not be guaranteed and is awarded on a temporary
> basis. I was also told at the housing benefit office today that if I
> start working part time this would also jeopardise my claim for
> discretionary housing benefit (even though working part time would mean
> I was no more better off).
> Moving out would be difficult since I have no deposit money or money for
> removal vans etc. I also have a back problem which means that too much
> lifting (unavoidable when moving house) will be a problem for me.
> Also landlords are reluctant to accept tenants on benefits, and pets (I
> have a cat, bought for my son after he suffered trauma, so can not be
> got rid of). I currently have a network support of neighbours which I
> need as a single parent.
> The other option is to apply for council housing, which as I'm sure you
> know, is an uncertain and stressful path. I would fall behind with the
> rent, the landlord would eventually evict me, I would then be rehoused
> temporarily, which would 'probably be a B & B, and not necessarily in
> your area' as quoted by housing benefit. This may jeopardise my college
> studies and my son's schooling where he is getting extra educational
> support and have been fantastically supportive of him. And that's if I
> can prove I haven't made myself 'intentionally homeless', which seems to
> be ambiguous.
> I really hope that you don't see me as a self pitying case that expects
> something for nothing. I am currently in receipt of sickness benefit as
> I have a history of depression. I want to come off income
> support/sickness benefit, work part time and I have started an access
> course at college (with a view to going to uni) in an attempt to rebuild
> my life for myself and my son.
> I have tried getting advice from Shelter and CAB, but they act as
> nothing more than information givers, and seeing as I am quite competent
> on google, is of no use to me. I went to the housing benefit offices
> today, they acknowledged I was in a predicament, but basically shrugged
> their shoulders.
> I don't know how I will ever solve my housing problem as a single
> parent. But I am making baby steps towards being independent and
> contributing to society. I hope you can appreciate this. I am not
> expecting everyone to fall over backwards to support me, but I do need
> some help in securing my first basic need - a home.
> Yours sincerely,
> S****** O****


button55 said...

As my maths teacher always use to say " if you can`t teach pigs manners you kick them "

Ron said...

at least the f#@&er answer to emails, unlike the f#@&ing corneliuses.

ainelivia said...

Says the man who enjoys a way above average salary and who housing is subsidised............. is it any wonder he is likened to a character in a certain book... odious person....