Monday 23 October 2023

Questions that the Barnet Conservatives have to answer about the HAMAS boss's council house in Colindale

 I was amazed to wake up on Saturday and read a story on the front page of The Times (Metro picked up on the story, which is not behind a paywall), stating that a HAMAS boss was living in Colindale. Not only that, but he was living in a former council house that he'd bought without even needing a mortgage, saving himself £112,000 through the right to buy scheme. He'd been housed in the property by Barnet Council in 2003, a year after the Tories took control of Barnet Council. There are many levels on which this story is mind boggling, but there are a few points that must be asked of Barnet Council.

Lets put aside the rights and wrongs of whether or not the person should be here in the first place. That is an emotive issue and I have no idea about the background to his case or why the Home Office granted him a passport and residency. If he has a legal right to be here, then that is where we are, whether people like it or not (and I'm sure there will be strong opinions). What I am interested in is the spotlight this shines on the due diligence that Barnet Council are doing in regards to housing applications.

1. If a man is rich enough to buy a property outright after five years, without a Mortgage, why was he in a Council House in the first place? I know dozens of people who have been unable to secure a council house for decades, despite having proven need. Recently, I've been trying to help a man with learning difficulties in a private dwelling that has been deemed unsafe by Barnet Council's own housing department three times in the last year, to secure a council house. Thus far completely without success, despite medical support as he is deemed a suicide risk. 

2. What vetting did the council do of his application? Did they check his background? If not why not. Having seen the hoops a young man with all of the paperwork to convince any reasonable authority has to provide, I cannot understand how this occurred. Was the paperwork correctly and honestly filled in?

3. Was the Conservative leaderr of the Council or anyone else at the Council made aware of the background of this character by the Police or security services? Was he on a watch list? 

4. Do the council run anti money laundering checks on transactions involving council homes? If someone is able to pay for a council house without a Mortgage, has the council satisfied themselves that the cash has been acquired legally? 

There must be a lot of people who desperately need a council house in Barnet, who will have read this and be totally perplexed. I note that Tory Mike Freer MP has notably silent on the matter on his website. He was leader of the Council from 2006-2009 and must surely have been made aware of the situation. 

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