Thursday, June 14, 2018

Living in limbo (a threat to life): Will St Mungo's explain how we are not tenants of the Mayor of London's Clearing House service? (WITH UPDATE - DAY 32 17/6/2018)

Endless bad treatment.
- Donald Collins, President of ISAF, an NGO dedicated to helping women

Our Church and State website has no less than 40 Nobel Prize winners on it; for details, see this blog's sidebar under "Church and State" (updated today).

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan

Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms formulates what is the core of free speech. "Everyone has the right to freedom of expression." In an important interpretation of this article, the European Court of Human Rights in Handyside v. UK (1976) indicated that this "freedom of expression" should be construed as follows. It "is applicable not only to 'information' or 'ideas' that are favourably received, or regarded as inoffensive, or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population." Such are the demands of that pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no "democratic society" (see Cliteur, 2010).
Heavey v St Mungo's (2016)

St Mungo's Executive Director Dominic Williamson successfully had Declan's claim for £400 (in costs alone) dismissed by writing in a Witness Statement to the Central London County Court that St Mungo's were "keen to work with Mr Heavey to ensure that he remains securely housed and does not face homelessness again". (He also maintained and argued the point in two court hearings before two different District Court judges.) It took the scheduling of a preliminary hearing in October 2016 to have case notes from two meetings rectified by Williamson as Declan had requested all along; and that rectification only took place after a failed attempt by an international firm of solicitors, Osborne Clarke, to have Declan's claim struck out on the papers. The judge at the preliminary hearing dismissed St Mungo's application to strike out Declan's claim for compensation, and District Judge Avent's order dated 11 March 2017 does not state why he dismissed the claim.

20 February 2017: The Central London County Court: District Judge Avent dismisses Declan's claim against the Greater London Authority-commissioned St Mungo's that alleged the falsification and fabrication of data against us (WITH UPDATE 16/3/2017)

Declan is ready to file another claim against the Greater London Authority (GLA)-commissioned St Mungo's in the Central London County Court, and at the drop of a hat. The new tenancy agreement we are being asked to sign is a shocking document (see here). In reply to Declan's pre-action letter below to St Mungo's CEO Howard Sinclair, it is claimed by St Mungo's Executive Director Dominic Williamson that the Mayor of London's Clearing House service, which St Mungo's runs on the Mayor's behalf, "does not have any tenants". It is evident from our two sources of information - the GLA in High Court papers in 2015 and St Mungo's 9-page report entitled "Clearing House at 25" - that we are living in a Clearing House property (with reference to the St Mungo's report), having been "referred for support to the TST [Tenancy Sustainment Team] like all other Clearing House tenants" (to quote from the GLA to the High Court). The St Mungo's report uses the word 'tenant' no less than six times:
From Heavey v Greater London Authority (2015):

"SHP informed the Claimant that it had been asked to put in place exit strategies for Housing First tenants. Since SHP's involvement in the project was to end on 31 March 2015, alternative arrangements were necessary. It was decided as part of the exit strategy in September 2014 that all Housing First tenants would be referred back to the Clearing House for assessment, to ensure that they felt able to manage their tenancies with TST support. In other words, at the end of the Housing First Pilot, the tenants would revert to being standard Clearing House tenants and as such would fall to be referred for support to the TST like all other Clearing House tenants. The Defendant considered it important to ensure that arrangements were in place for the former Housing First tenants so that they continued to have support at the end of the project."

From St Mungo's report "Clearing House at 25":

"Based on average data, we estimate that Clearing House tenants spent more than 110,000 nights on the streets of London before moving into an RSI property. Once housed, 92% never returned to rough sleeping."

"[4] Based on statistics from CHAIN, made up of 2,671 Clearing House tenants."

"The security of a stable home is one of the first steps in helping people to transform their lives, to increase confidence and to begin leading a more fulfilling future, often reconnecting with family or returning to training or work. We know that 15% of tenants who moved in to Clearing House properties since 2008 are now in paid work."

"In 2000, coordinated support from Tenancy Sustainment Teams (TSTs) was introduced to all new tenants and those already in tenancies who required support. Since that time the teams have supported more than 7,500 people."

"The TSTs empower people to lead fulfilling lives by supporting them to address their needs and to develop the confidence and skills to live independently. The teams offer critical support to individuals when they move into often new, unfurnished flats, to help tenants: ..."

"The TST support is tailored to the needs of the individual. They continue to develop their teams' specialist skills to work creatively and in a personalised way with tenants with the most complex needs."

This is Declan's pre-action letter to Sinclair:

Howard Sinclair
Chief Executive
St Mungo's
3 Thomas More Square

22 May 2018

Pre-Action Letter

Dear Mr Sinclair,

Re: Non-compliance with the Human Rights Act 1998

I write as a tenant of the Clearing House, which is run by St Mungo's on behalf of the Mayor of London. I am concerned that I have been issued a tenancy agreement that is in contravention of Article 8 (protection of family life and home) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA).

I first requested in writing a new (like-for-like) fixed term contract on 27 April 2018. I wrote to you on 10 May 2018 to challenge St Mungo's decision to rule out renewing my and my wife's fixed term tenancy. On 16 May 2018, St Mungo's Tenancy Sustainment Team Manager Gemma Goacher agreed during a meeting at my home that a renewed, like-for-like tenancy agreement would be issued to me. However, on 18 May 2018, I received a tenancy agreement that is not a renewed assured shorthold tenancy.

The new tenancy agreement contains conditions in relation to rent (payment and increases) and support that breach the HRA. On 18 May 2018, I wrote to Ms Goacher requesting written assurance that Section A, part 6 would be amended to read as follows, as agreed on 16 May 2018:

The tenancy starts on 17/05/18 and is a renewed assured shorthold tenancy for a fixed term of 2 years. (Emphasis added.)

This, I had hoped, would bring the entire contract into line with the HRA. However, Ms Goacher has been unable to provide me with this written assurance. Please could you provide me with a clear written explanation of why the decision has been made not to provide me with a renewed, like-for-like fixed term contract as agreed on 16 May 2018.

Time is of the essence, as my wife and I have been effectively living in limbo since 17 May 2018, subject to the section 21 procedure – whereby a landlord can evict a tenant without having to give any valid reason, so long as the proper procedure of providing a tenant with a notice giving them, usually, at least 2 months' notice to vacate has been followed.

This limbo state in itself constitutes discrimination, a type of harassment, and a threat to life. Therefore, if I do not receive a full response from you within 14 days of the date of this letter, I intend to issue court proceedings without further notice.

Yours sincerely,

Declan Heavey
Managing Director
Network for Church Monitoring

17 May: Prime Minister Theresa May: Declan's complaint against the Mayor of London's St Mungo's service cites threat to life (WITH UPDATE - DAY 27 12/6/2018)

Last month St Mungo's made the international press for all the wrong reasons. They are accused of helping to get rough sleepers arrested and deported. When the story came through my Russia Today (RT) news feed on 14 May, it left Declan gob smacked. He has already spoken with Diane Taylor, the journalist who is covering the story for the Guardian. This is her up-date piece on the scandal:

DAY 32 UPDATE 17 June (12.42pm): This is DAY 32 for us living in a limbo state. Last week Declan asked Williamson to explain: 1) how St Mungo's is incorrect in its reference to "Clearing House properties", and 2) how both the GLA and St Mungo's are incorrect in their repeated reference to "Clearing House tenants". Williamson replied by writing that the terms "Clearing House properties" and "Clearing House tenants" are "shorthand terms", which is a nonsensical implication. Is it that the Mayor of London is funding and commissioning his Clearing House and TST services to the tune of £2.6 million per year but the tenants are at the mercy of their housing association landlords? This afternoon Declan wrote to the Housing Ombudsman Service to request that they encourage our landlord, Peabody Trust, to communicate with him about our concerns (see here). Meanwhile, internet cuts continue unabated; see my blog post of 9 May, INTERNET CUTS: Are we back to non-stop internet cuts? We pay British Telecom £850 per year for broadband (WITH UPDATE 17/6/2018 RE: 219th Internet cut since 26 May 2017). And I've just been blocked by Facebook for a week without explanation (see here). This is Declan's threat-to-life paragraph in his recent updated complaint to the United Nations:
Re: Threat to life (The Greater London Authority)

Paragraph 38 of Declan's updated complaint to the United Nations under Article 19 (freedom of expression) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

38. It has been acknowledged by the GLA in judicial review papers that the Applicant and his wife can live independently – they do not have addictions or mental illness or behavioural issues. Their needs are solely related to the harassment and intimidation they routinely face. Following their unavoidable court action against St. Mungo's last year (see para. 36 above), they are extremely concerned that their tenancy will not this time be renewed on the same terms as the original tenancy agreement. (The Applicant has repeatedly asked Peabody for a new, like-for-like fixed term contract from 16 May 2018 and has contacted his local councillor to take up his case.) The Applicant may then be left with no option but to challenge this decision in the High Court (Judicial Review) as unreasonable, unlawful and incapable of legal justification. As the matter stands, therefore, there is a threat to life and well-being considering the following range of factors as applicable:

(i) The Applicant has a history of respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, bronchitis and other lung infections. Both he and his wife doubt he has the respiratory health to survive even another year or two on the streets. He is in his late fifties and during his and his wife's first period of homelessness he was twice hospitalised, once with pneumonia in December 2006 and the second time with a viral infection in October 2007. Near the end of their second period of homelessness in April 2014, the Applicant was diagnosed with asthma as well as a chest infection (see para. 31 above).

(ii) Both the Applicant and his wife have serious concerns about the health care the Applicant has or has not received over the years from National Health Service (NHS) England. Prior to his hospitalisation with pneumonia in 2006, he lost consciousness while vomiting and could have easily died had his wife not been with him. Chelsea and Westminster Hospital discharged him 42 hours after admission whilst still unwell (into the shivering cold and dense fog), placing him at risk. The Applicant most recently complained to NHS England about emergency dental treatment he received in January 2018. He complained in part that he had a nerve removed from a tooth but was only prescribed antibiotics after the eruption of the tooth days later. NHS England did not uphold any aspect of the Applicant's complaint. The tooth itself was extracted a month to the day after the emergency treatment.

(iii) Back on the streets the Applicant and his wife will be restricted to sleeping on night buses, notwithstanding the Applicant's asthma and now increased susceptibility to respiratory disease. They were forced into this predicament prior to coming off the streets the second time because of an excessive use of force by police officers to move them out of where they had been sleeping. This included the Applicant's wife being threatened with arrest on the trumped-up charge of assaulting a police officer (see para. 31 above). Since the subsequent escalation of the migration crisis in Europe, the police have been given more powers to crack down on rough sleeping and need less to resort to excessive force (such as arrest without lawful authority).

From My Picks

8 May 2018: Threat to life: Updated complaint to the United Nations under Article 19 (freedom of expression) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Today we are cut off the internet for a half an hour