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JUDGE DAMNS SALFORD COUNCIL IN “SERIOUSLY FLAWED” DISABILITY HOUSING REVIEW
 

Star date: 19th April 2017

SALFORD CITY COUNCIL'S "SERIALLY FLAWED" DISABILITY HOUSING REVIEW "DID NOT COME CLOSE...IN APPLYING EQUALITY DUTY" STATES JUDGE

Today at Manchester Civil Justice Centre, Salford City Council was absolutely damned in the findings of Judge Main, who ruled that its review of accommodation for a physically and mentally disabled man was "seriously flawed", "serially failed" and "does not come close to satisfying the requisite legal test in applying the 'equality duty'".

Costs were awarded against cash-strapped Salford Council, which are believed to be greater than the cost of actually moving the man to a suitable property in the first place.

Full details here...


Today, at Manchester Civil Justice Centre, Judge Main QC, ruled that a Salford City Council review of housing for a man with "multiple dysfunctions" – physical and mental - was "seriously flawed" and "serially failed".

Tahira Chakotai, or TJ, has been living on the 14th floor of Canon Hussey Court on the Islington Estate in a flat that the judge noted was "entirely unsuitable". Despite TJ using a wheelchair and sticks for mobility, he was - and is - left in a block where the lift "had a higher than average incidence of breakdown" and where he had "little capacity to negotiate any stairs".

The Salford Star has covered TJ's plight before (see here) but he has had to take Salford Council to court in order for something to be done. In May 2016, given his predicament, he presented to the Council as homeless, seeking to be re-housed under the Homelessness Act 2002, as it was unreasonable to expect him to occupy a 'wholly unsuitable' property.

But the Council concluded that it was reasonable and continually refused to reverse the decision. So TJ began a judicial review to "quosh" it.

Today, the judge agreed that the decision "must be quoshed" – and, in doing so, his final verdict on Salford Council was absolutely damning.

TJ, the judge stated, "labours under a number of significant medical, physical and psychological ailments" which "is not disputed". He listed a few of them which include epilepsy, Asperger's Syndrome, chronic mechanical back pain due to a
degenerative back condition, chronic bilateral hip and knee pain
and severe motor co-ordination difficulties. These are protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 and the Council thus had an 'equality duty'.

Sarah Clayton, Salford Council's Head of Housing Strategy and Enabling, who carried out the review was slammed by the judge... "...save for a passing reference to the 'equality duty' in her letter dated 29 November 2016, the fact and effects of the Appellant's [TJ's] protected characteristics – or the effects of his multiple dysfunctions, one on the other, seen through the prism of his disability, is absent.

"Specifically, there is no discussion on the likely compounding and synergistic effects of the Appellant's overlaid protected characteristics nor any attempt to view these matters from the perspective of his disablement" he added "This can only be viewed as a significant vitiating factor. In my judgment, Ms Clayton's review does not come close to satisfying the requisite legal test in applying the 'equality duty'."

Given the state of the lifts and TJ's mobility problems, plus fear of falls and fits, the judge ruled that he "very reasonably might feel significantly anxious"...

And... "Adding into that, the compounding effects of Asberger's Syndrome and his
overlaying depression, with his worries about racist or homophobic taunts from
his neighbours – it is entirely easy to understand why he would harbour real
anxiety and fear in occupying such accommodation and feel very reluctant to leave
it."

And... "If, added to the foregoing, one then adds in the Appellant's chronic pain and his deteriorating physical function, the resulting package of dysfunction, given the nature of the 'equality duty', suggested very strongly, it was reasonable, viewed objectively, to regard the Appellant's current accommodation as entirely unsuitable...

"Yet" the judge added "the approach of Ms Clayton was to take each of the relevant factual questions, address them serially and individually– downplay their significance, then fall back on the high threshold for a finding of 'homelessness' - in a sentence, rejecting any counteracting effects.

"Such an approach, in my judgment was quite inadequate" he concluded "There was an absolute need for Ms Clayton to specifically consider, from the Appellant's perspective, as an Asperger's sufferer, how he was able to cope with the level of his adversity, given all his difficulties on the facts presented. On all these issues, Ms Clayton's assessment serially failed...

"In my judgment, the Respondent's [Salford Council's] final review was seriously flawed" he added "It must be quoshed..."

Now Salford City Council has 56 days in which to review its decision and report back to the court.

After the case, barrister Chetna Parmar of Cobden House Chambers, instructed by Stephensons Solicitors, told the Salford Star "I believe that the judge gave the right decision in this matter and it's one that has been long overdue, and one that the Council should have come to when they made their initial decision."

TJ added: "I'm happy that the judge has given the decision back to Salford Council to make a new assessment based on his opinions and his judgement. I don't believe that any adult with my disabilities should have to go through this procedure at tax payers' expense, to actually come out with the obvious answer that the properties aren't suitable. I think it's disgusting that they've kept a mentally and physically disabled adult in a property that is unsuitable."

Costs were awarded to TJ's legal team, which, the Salford Star understands, will probably cost more than it would have cost to move him into a suitable property...


See also previous Salford Star article: Disabled Person Living Hell in Salix Homes Flat - click here

Tahira Chakotai (Independent Housing Advocate) wrote
at 5:20:10 AM on Saturday, April 22, 2017
@Pete Thank you for your amazing and honest comment. The barrister defending the Salford Council did try an appeal within the court, but the Judge was having non of it. However, that does not stop them from wasting more of the tax payers money and appealing it out of court. Even if they find that my property is appropriate, this does not stop the citizens of Salford appealing against their rise in council taxes. The council stated within a generic letter that the increase in council taxes was due to budget cuts, which has left the Salford Council short of funding. But if anything, my legal case has proved their statement to be somewhat in contradiction with what the Salford Council claims. If the Salford Council can afford to pay 10's of thousands of pounds to keep a severely mentally and disabled person within an inappropriate / unsuitable property, then they obviously have enough money to burn. If they do have enough money to burn, then there is no need for an increase in Council Tax this year. As I stated to @Rotten, the Salford Council are likely to go against the Judges decision. When or if that day comes, more tax payers money will be wasted until the Salford Council see's sense. This court battle is not just about me, but about every disabled adult who has been placed within inappropriate social housing. If I manage to win this case out right, then it becomes a legal precedent for anyone who is vulnerable, disabled and under 55, who is currently being forced to live within an inappropriate or unsuitable social housing property. Kindest Regards, Tahira Chakotai (Independent Housing Advocate).
 
pete wrote
at 11:41:17 PM on Friday, April 21, 2017
From Tahirs comment of what the council barrister said, it looks like the clowns are going to appeal. They just do not know when to give in do they? I know this is a blow, but look at it this way, the higher they go, the greater the height the shit will hit them from. Tossers .Kind regards, Pete.
 
Tahira Chakotai (Independent Housing Advocate) wrote
at 5:58:51 AM on Friday, April 21, 2017
@Rotten. I'm afraid you might be right Rotten :( I Talked to Mayor Dennett at a Lower Broughton Fair last year, (Replaced The Pink Picnic in the park), and talked to him for about an hour. The conversation was all about the inappropriate and discriminating actions of the current Salford Housing Allocation Policy, which allows The Salford Home Search to discriminate against those under 55 years of age, who need an over 55 DDA Compliant / Adapted Property. I told Mayor Dennett that the budget needed to support those in the wrong social housing would be significantly reduced if they were rehoused in suitable adapted homes, thus saving The Salford Council a great deal of money. Did he take any notice? No he did not!!! So I have to agree with you Rotten. If The Salford Council, who claim they are currently "cash strapped" do not want to save money, by the stopping of housing discrimination on age, then there is absolutely no way, in my opinion, they are going to change their decision about my housing requirements, regardless of what the Judge told them to do in court. What was not mentioned by the Salford Star, is the fact the Salford Council's barrister tried to tell the Judge he was wrong and should remake his decision. Fortunately the Judge was having none of this and told them he was not there to debate his decision. In conclusion I do believe your statement, in my opinion, is accurate Rotten. All social landlord tenants must now stand together, not individually, in order to ensure that everyone is treat the same, and gets social housing that is not in severe disrepair and is suitable for their needs, whatever they may be. Kindest Regards, Tahira Chakotai (Independent Housing Advocate)
 
rotten wrote
at 3:26:01 AM on Friday, April 21, 2017
Nothing will change. The council will continue to flout the law and spend thousand defending their action, rather than correct their mistakes.
 
Tahira Chakotai (Independent Housing Advocate) wrote
at 1:29:28 PM on Thursday, April 20, 2017
Just wanted to say a massive thank you to all those who have commented on this story. It's good to see that there are some kind hearted souls within Manchester & Salford. It is with much sadness that I say that "The Salford Council" may make yet another catastrophic decision and yet again state that my inappropriate housing is adequate, and that I am not homeless. But rest assured, that if this is the case, more and more tax payers money will be wasted until "The Salford Council" removes it's over 55 restrictions on "The Salford Home Search Website", which currently stops the Vulnerable and Disabled, who are under 55, bidding on DDA Compliant / Adapted Property. Until "The Salford Council" see that the disabled have as much right to appropriate housing, mine and Sharon's housing fight goes on. Everyone in this city deserves the right to live within a property that is free of disrepair, affordable and caters to their needs. Everyone has a right to live in peace combined with a great deal of dignity. Kindest Regards, from Tahira Chakotai (Independent Housing Advocate)
 
Sharon Hooley (Independent Housing Advocate and Activist) wrote
at 10:01:40 AM on Thursday, April 20, 2017
Thank you Salford Star. Your support has been fantastic. I'd also like to say how proud I am of Tahira and honoured to support him. It's not easy being an independent advocate, and being disabled myself means it takes an awful lot out of me mentally and physically than the average person. Yesterday was a massive WIN and so rewarding. But I know that there are more vulnerable people out there who need just as much help. It's a never ending job. It's horrendous that the Council felt the need to waste tax payers money which could probably build him a home than pay court fees etc. We now have to see if the Council decide to waste more tax payers money or do the right thing. Thank you to @Pete for your comment xxx
 
Sharon Hooley (Independent Housing Advocate and Activist) wrote
at 10:01:28 AM on Thursday, April 20, 2017
@Pete Thanks hun. Although Salix Homes run the Homeless Department for Salford Council, and the initial decision was made by Salix, it was up to Salford Council to investigate the information given to them in which they totally failed, (as agreed and confirmed by the Judge in the article). We hope the organisations involved will realise their mistakes and are rectify this in the next 56 days. So let's see what happens next.
 
Dave Kershaw wrote
at 10:00:40 AM on Thursday, April 20, 2017
How can Salford City council be cash strapped. They give away Millions in Grants and building fees without batting an eyelid.Thousands of new homes and business's are being built in Salford all pay community charge or business rates, yet still crying hard up. Sorry but Voting Labour can damage your wealth and Health.
 
Gareth L wrote
at 10:00:32 AM on Thursday, April 20, 2017
This story makes it more scandalous how our Mayor was able to jump the social housing ladder, to actually live in Salford.
 
Salford Star wrote
at 5:13:57 AM on Thursday, April 20, 2017
See Bob's comment below - this is Salford Council rather than Salix - and we won't know the bill for a number of weeks yet. Will try and find out and post it here
 
bob wrote
at 5:12:20 AM on Thursday, April 20, 2017
Please can we see the legal bill? Lawyers don't often like you to see how much they are getting ,but in this case it is justified. It should be taken from the salix directors wages. Fat chance of that. Perhaps this is why Salix have not got any cash in the budget. Best wishes ,Bob.
 
down but not out! wrote
at 10:58:21 PM on Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Care in the Community? Call this looking after our most vulnerable, shameful. Let's hope TJ can now have a home that suits his entire needs urgently!
 
pete wrote
at 10:58:09 PM on Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Hi Tahir and Sharon. A good victory, a victory for common sense. It is obvious that you would win ,and you did. Why did it ever get that far? Salix are just out of order . Guess what, we got a couple of ground floor flats that salix have been very busy doing up on our block.I am sure Salix must have known they were going to loose. Perhaps one of them has got your name on it It would be a great pleasure to have you as a neighbour. good luck Pete.
 
Tahira Chakotai (Independent Housing Advocate) wrote
at 10:57:46 PM on Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Just wanted to say a massive thank you to the Salford Star for covering this story, which once again shows that the vulnerable and disabled within Salford are being left in wholly inappropriate social landlord properties. It is even more inappropriate that a disabled adult had to take law proceedings against the Salford Council in order to pursue a Section 184 / Homelessness Through Disability. Considering the Salford Council are cash strapped, you would think they would have better things to spend their money on, than keeping a mentally and physically disabled adult within a property which is wholly unsuitable. Kindest Regards, Tahira Chakotai (Independent Housing Advocate)
 
tom nolan wrote
at 3:01:16 PM on Wednesday, April 19, 2017
well done tj .. vindictive and uncaring Salix homes and all the other that have been against you over the years should be utterly ashamed hand hang there heads low ..but they wont ..they don't know how to be responsible for our well being and since they took the housing stock have got worse ..good luck , that was a massive worry for you to be burdened with ..tom ..
 
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