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Stunmon

The days when people looked after their houses and gardens

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When I was growing up in the 50s, everyone looked after their houses and gardens on our council estate. If women didn't donkey stone their front steps they would get talked about! Gardens were pristine and if someone was elderly, the neighbours would look after their garden for them. My parents would even cut the grass on the verges outside the house as did everyone else, even though the Council came round to do it frequently. Don't people have standards these days?

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I don't think this is really a history thread BUT quite a good number of council tenants do not deserve the properties they get, curtains are never drawn back, windows are never cleaned and the children are just feral, creating damage and trouble on a daily basis.

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This is so true when people only got a council because they earned enough money to pay the rent they looked after their homes doing minor repairs. Now the difference is you get a council house if you don't work and have children and you don't need to bother about the rent because you get it paid for you. 

 

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Growing up on Low Shiregreen estate in the early 1950's I have to say that there were some very houseproud tenants and also some scruffy bu88ers as well. I don't recall too much good neighbourliness either! The rent collector ( abandoned years ago after muggings so I am told) would eventually report the scruffy, tenants and they would receive a  threatening letter... For a period gardens would generally be tidied up and an air of cleanliness prevailed.... but not for long as usually scruffiness returned.

Today, we have much more relative poverty than we did in those days. We had full employment with full time jobs. "Zero hour contracts" were almost unheard of save in the docks . I acknowledge that times and society have changed dramatically( drug addiction was unheard of, children left school at 15/16 and walked into a job/apprenticeship) but from experience I would suggest that it is quite wrong to state that all Council tenants don't work; have ( too many?) children and don't pay rent . There are many who are underprivileged, yet are in employment and are having to claim benefits on account of the low pay levels at the bottom end of the nation's incomes...That said, no doubt there are some who are feckless and play the system.

My parents waited years and years for the keys to a Council house...I was nearly 10 before that happened... and they were very, very grateful...as were most of their contemporaries, whose early married lives had been badly affected by WW2. In my retirement ( I  do  a little voluntary social work) I know of some people, several being regular ex servicemen, living under difficult conditions and often with their own psychological problems ... mostly created through their years of service to the nation over the last 30 years. They are proud , do not want to live in hostels but who cannot get suitable sheltered housing. This is a  scandal and a tragedy!

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At one time you had to be married to get a council house, now schoolgirls who get an early retirement present, a baby, they are hardly able to look after themselves never mind a baby and as for looking after a house that's something else. I've seen girls have a baby and twenty years on still not working, so her family see the money she gets so they think " why should we work" 

 

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In those far off days it was extremely rare to have a child out of wedlock...doing so was frowned on by society  and many a miserable marriage was forced upon two young people by parents not wanting the "shame".

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I was a child born out of wedlock and it was a stigma I had to live with. It was bad enough with some children always teasing that I did not have a dad and worse.

However it was some of the parents who were the worst. They wouldn't let their kids play with me as if I had some sort of disease they might catch.  It was a hard life

growing up in Sheffield in the 1940's and 50's. It was just as hard for my mum. She volunteered to join the land army during the war and was sent to Thame in Oxfordshire

to work on farms, for the war effort. My details here are a bit thin but I have managed to uncover some details as to the events. My mother met my father in Thame.

He was in the Royal Navy and they had a relationship, for how long I do not know. His ship was HMS Warspite and it took part in the invasion of Normandy on 6th June

1944 in fact it had the honour of being the first ship to bombard the French coast.

I was born on 7th March 1945, 9 months after D Day! For reasons I do not know they never married and mum returned to Sheffield.

Looking back on life as I am now 73 years old, I feel that my experiences in early life have helped in my determination to take a positive view and build on them.

It is what you make of life not where you start that is important. I have not done too bad with my life. but it has been hard work. Just before I retired I owned a factory which

employed 35 people and I am proud of that.  Sadly my mum did not see any of this as she died early aged 50.

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But did they really look after their houses in the past? Reports show that tenants were not clean and in many cases the council had to send there household contents to be decontaminated before they let them move to council houses. Families would drink out of jam jars, while the husband was down the pub supping the money away.

Private homes were overcrowded and very unsanitary. I can tell you now that there are plenty of private tenants today who have homes that are unsanitary and have terrible gardens. Compared to some council properties, which have only just been brought up to the decent home standards, they are worse than those of 60 years ago. 

Council homes have been sold off to tenants, who then sold them off for profit. Others sold off are neglected as the tenants don't have the money to afford to keep them up.

Where I used to live on the Upper Manor they have built new homes, but they are NOT for council tenants. Some are for sale, but the rest are private rented.

There are no affordable homes being built in Sheffield and a MASSIVE amount of people need them. Meanwhile the remaining councils tenants and those in need fight it out to get a house or flat, which are restricted to income and need. 

Social housing created the need for more means testing. But having a neighbour with 11 kids from different fathers, or the woman with two kids, escaping an abusive husband that the system, or the woman herself, will not deal with, is not most people's idea of a good neighbour.   

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Social Housing, as we now call it, had its first major boost with the passing of the 1919 Addison Act which promised 500,000 " Homes fit for Heroes" in 3 years. Economic events made this impossible to achieve but the Act made housing a national responsibility. Further Acts were passed including an Act of 1930 which obliged Local Authorities to clear all  remaining slums. 700,000 new homes were built.#

What a change from today when house building lags  dramatically behind demand, where local authorities are effectively forbidden from meeting the housing demand by new buildings and where we have a sort of means testing for the decimated public housing stock..

So much for "Homes fit for Heroes" or the Nation accepting responsibility for housing...housing has been badly affected by the influence off Thatcher's revolution!

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