Cllr Jonathan Glanz, the Cabinet Member for Housing on Westminster City Council, says Council tenants guilty of rioting must lose their homes. (Housing Minister Grant Shapps says regulations will be changed so tenants cane be evicted even if the crime is outside their Local Authority area)
It is time to take a tough line. Social housing is a privilege, not a right. Tenants have a responsibility to uphold standards – if the perpetrators are old enough to be out alone smashing up our streets, they are old enough to be responsible for their eviction.
The role of local authorities in responding to the scenes of destruction on our streets can only now begin to be explored. As locally elected members we undoubtedly have a role in quelling fears, representing local views and bringing our communities together. We will be instrumental in the clean-up and rebuilding of areas that have suffered but I also believe we have a role to play in holding the perpetrators to account and imposing sanctions.
If householders or their children are proven guilty of looting the capital’s shops, setting our streets alight or wreaking havoc in our communities then they will need to face the punishment. If any of the Westminster City Council’s tenants are involved we will review their tenancies and seek to evict them. Of course, local authorities will continue to retain a duty to house but social housing is not an unlimited resource and if residents are shown not to be taking responsibility for their actions and the actions of their children then they will no longer enjoy the privileges of a secure local authority tenancy. It is simply not fair on those who make a full contribution to society but who languish on the social housing waiting list.
The vast majority of social tenants are hard-working, law abiding people who pay their taxes and raise their children to have respect for other people and their property but some of those who chose to declare war on London and elsewhere this week live on our estates.
These riots were led by groups of very young people for whom actions and consequences have been entirely divorced from one another. Many of these youths have been let down by their parents who have sat back and allowed the state to deal with the consequences of their children’s actions. Only by demonstrating to these young people that they will be dealt with severely and that they have a duty to act in a way that is required in a fully functioning civil society.
The Prime Minister addressed the rioters on Tuesday: “If you’re old enough to carry out the crime, you are old enough to be punished”. Likewise, if their parents believe they are old enough to be out on the streets, running amok at all hours of the day then they are old enough to be responsible for the future of their tenancy.