There was a good, and well presented, documentary on BBC 4 last night "The Great Estate: The Rise and Fall of the Council House".
It presented a concise history of the council house from its beginnings in Shoreditch to the present day, and sought to understand why council housing has now become a byword for deprivation and social breakdown.
In a nut shell, the demise of council estates from homes that people were proud of and which they aspired to live in can be attributed to the following factors:
1 People are now better off, and take for granted TV's, indoor toilets, bathroom, washing machines etc. There is no folk memory of how bad things were before council houses.
2 The original council estates were highly selective wrt who was allowed to live there. Councils insisted that residents were employed, and that they maintained their property (wrt cleaning, grass cutting etc) according to a detailed rule book. The rule book has been all but abandoned.
3 The rule books used by the councils formed a contract between the tenants and the council. The tenants undertook to keep their homes in a decent condition, in return for which the council ensured that the environment surrounding the homes was properly looked after. Council tenants could pass on their homes to their children, thus giving them a stake in the community and a sense of belonging.
4 In the 1970s Labour changed the rules and allowed anyone deemed to be "deserving" to have a council house. The result being that local people were pushed aside in favour of people whom the councils deemed were "more deserving" (often based on a political agenda), ie the heart of local communities were ripped out and no one had a sense of belonging or responsibility towards the homes that the councils provided.
5 The quality of the council flats built in the 1960's and 70's were dreadful, they turned into the slums that they were meant to replace.
Councils have become the enemy of the people!
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