A Week in Housing


Struggling to buy your own home? Why not move to Sicily and buy one for 80p? Baffled? Thrilled? Scared? Keep reading – I’ll try to explain.

A city called Sambuca has decided to drastically cut the prices of houses in an attempt to get people to move to the area.

Why? Because too many people have fled the bucolic paradise on the hunt for adventure and opportunity in so-called ‘urban metropolises’, which are becoming increasingly popular.

Speaking to CNN, the lonely town’s deputy mayor said: ‘As opposed to other towns that have merely done this for propaganda, this city hall owns all €1 houses on sale.

‘We’re not intermediaries who liaise between old and new owners. You want that house, you’ll get it no time.’

But before you bolt off with an Italian language book and hastily packed suitcase, keen to leave this rapidly disintegrating isle behind, there are some conditions.

Firstly, after handing over your 80p (or one Euro as they call it over there) you’ll be expected to fix your new home up within three years, with a minimum spend of £13,200, which makes one wonder what sort of state these ‘houses’ are in.

Secondly, as far as I can make out from the vague reportage, it looks like you might need a job as well, so lazy romantic types looking to drop out early may have to think again.

Thirdly, I’m no expert but isn’t Sicily kind of run by the mafia? Thus you may be paying ‘additional fees’ for ‘insurance’ on your property indefinitely.

Anyway, according to the deputy mayor ‘this fertile patch of land is dubbed the “earthly paradise”. We’re located inside a nature reserve, packed with history. Gorgeous beaches, woods and mountains surround us. It’s silent and peaceful, an idyllic retreat for a detox stay.’

Sounds a bit desperate, doesn’t he?

I’d like to provide you with a link should you be interested in pursuing this dreamy yet dubious offer but I can’t find one. Try international directory enquiries?


Britain’s favourite cliched terrible landlord, Fergus Wilson, has suddenly issued eviction notices to nearly 100 households – the latest step in his strategy to become the country’s most comically unpleasant character.

The 90 households in Ashford, Kent have two months to find somewhere else to live as the burly property baron looks to sell off his 700-home portfolio – perhaps to spend more time with the balloons he appears to have started shoving under his shirt for some reason.

The Dickensian parody said: ‘I feel remorse but, at the same time, I am going to have to do it. If I give them six months, so what? Unless somebody is going to rapidly build a lot more houses, where do the people live in the meantime?’

However, the corpulent freeholder blamed the lack of homes for his soon to be jettisoned human cargo to move into on national policy and, naturally, immigration from the hated eastern Europe.

(Sun and Daily Mail writers and readers: it’s stuff like this that makes Jeremy Corbyn popular, if you’re still scratching your heads.)

Anyhow, Fergus and his equally admired wife, Judith, can expect to net £200 million if they sell off their whole portfolio. The system works!


From housing news of the worst kind to housing news of a very good kind: apparently, a social landlord’s efforts to improve its stock has boosted the Scottish economy by £2 billion (a figure I suspect the Wilsons eye greedily while long spools of saliva disgorge from their agape cakeholes).

Since 2003, Glasgow Housing Association has transformed over 70,000 properties and built 2,485 affordable homes.

Now the Fraser of Allander Institute, whatever that is, has found that the gigantic project has supported nearly 2,500 full-time jobs per year and helped create tonnes of cash for the economy.

GHA’s tenant chairwoman Bernadette Hewitt said: ‘The transformation of social housing in Glasgow has been a key element in the resurgence of this great city over the past 15 years.

‘GHA’s massive modernisation, demolition and re-provisioning programme has changed not only the Glasgow skyline, it has ensured tens-of-thousands of families across the city are living in modern, warm, safe and fuel-efficient homes.’

You see – good things still happen, sometimes. Here’s the whole story.


Events, events, events, events, events – we’ve got events!

And the first event I’m going to tell you about today is…Amazing workspaces.

Is your workspace amazing? I work at home, in a shed, thus I don’t have to put up with the nuisance of other people and their opinions – though I’m also crushingly lonely and sad. But I digress.

In association with Great Places to Work, the event will look at:

  • Amazing workplaces – what they look and feel like
  • How good office design can attract and retain the best employees
  • Great places to work – hear from housing providers who are up there with the top employers
  • How technology will shape the workplace of tomorrow
  • The importance of getting the right culture
  • Employee health and wellbeing – how we can make a difference.

Lots and lots of other interesting info can be accessed by clicking this link – which is for Manchester, I’ve just realised. If you live closer to or actually in the borough of London, click this link for that event.

Good governance. Sounds like the conceptual title for a new BBC Two sitcom about the capers in some low-level government department – but more the gentle nonsense of ‘”Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em” than the scathing hostility of “The Thick of It”. Where was I?

Oh yes: Good governance. Daunted by IDAs? Fearful of governance reviews? Lost in the undergrowth of regulatory standards and codes of governance?

Then you should be all over this event what we have planned, dripping as it will be with the following:

  • What’s the purpose of governance?
  • What should a board do, and what shouldn’t it do?
  • What’s the best governance structure and framework for your organisation?
  • How do you attract and retain high quality board members with the right skills?
  • How to listen to the resident voice in governance – and act on it?
  • How can you maximise the effectiveness of the board as a team?
  • Beyond the boardroom – what should happen between meetings?
  • Supporting governance – what’s the role of the company secretary
  • What does the regulator expect, and how might it change in the future?

We’re holding it in the parishes of London, Manchester and Birmingham. And here’s a link to find out more and book tickets, which you’ll need if you want to come.

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