Thursday, April 07, 2011

UNISON National Housing Seminar 2011: City of York

This year the seminar was held in York. I went up last night and this morning before breakfast went for a run (aka slow jog) around it’s almost complete City walls (see picture).

This was quite a fitting start in one way for a housing event since apart from the glorious displays of spring daffodils on the grass banks under the walls, you are acutely aware of the huge range of different types of homes and buildings that exists. From the medieval Shambles to the modern scandinavian style wooden fronted low rise blocks. Small traditional family terraces and the mansions with huge gardens next to the Minster.

The housing stock looked in relatively good condition with no obvious graffiti, vandalism or dumped rubbish. The communal washing lines were even in use and it would appear that residents had left clothes hanging up to dry overnight. I am sure that there are problems with Housing in York (homelessness and affordability?) which are not readily apparent. I did wonder how “sustainable” the new housing units would prove and whether they will still be in use in 500 years time.

There were around 100 branch delegates present at the seminar from Council’s, ALMO’s, DLO’s and Housing associations up and down the Country.

The Chair of the UNISON National Housing Forum Nick Olgard welcomed us and reminded everyone about last year’s seminar when we had the then Labour Housing Minister John Healey present, who he called one of the best ever housing minister’s with Graham Shapps. Then we were worrying about possible Tory Housing polices – now we know.

Our first (keynote) speaker was Heather Wakefield, Head of UNISON Local Government. I’ll post on this next.

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