#HDV – Sustained Development

The House will recall that in the days towards the end of the war the Government of the day introduced a Bill for local authorities to provide temporary bungalows. In Tottenham, as elsewhere, the Housing (Temporary Accommodation) Act, 1944, was taken advantage of. Some 50 houses were erected in Tottenham on one site and two of them have subsided. I ought to point out that the Ministry of Works are responsible for the erection of those bungalows and that the local government is responsible for the cost of sites, roads, paths and other services.

After erection the bungalows were handed over to the local authoriy which became responsible for maintenance and repairs. The instructions set out in the Memorandum issued in 1944 provided that additional expenditure should be incurred by the Ministry if repairs and maintenance exceeded £8. In the case of Tottenham the expenditure amounted to £16 per annum, in addition to which the local authority paid to the Ministry £23 10s. per annum per bungalow. Paragraph 9 of Appendix 4 of the Ministry Memorandum provides that the local authority may apply to the Ministry for additional expenditure, but that has already been done in the case of Tottenham.

“There are more dollars in this country than there is land in Tottenham, so much so that the borough council have had to buy land outside the boundary to house a proportion of their people. Something like 8,000 are on the waiting list and there is no land available at all.”

In the case of two of the 50 bungalows built on the site in Tottenham, the borough engineer of the Tottenham Borough Council pointed out at the time the land was prepared that it had been a refuse chute and therefore was likely to subside. It was necessary to reinforce the concrete base. Unfortunately this was not done by the Ministry of Works, and consequently two of the bungalows have broken their sides. The tenants have had to be removed and rehoused elsewhere. Before the houses were erected by the Ministry of Works, the Tottenham Borough Council engineer pointed out that this land had been a refuse chute, and, therefore, likely to subside. This happened and the concrete bases were not reinforced. The result has been that two of the houses have broken their backs.

This is a very serious problem in Tottenham, because the housing position is very acute and the cost of the immediate work should not be borne under the amount laid down in the memorandum for repairs and maintenance. The site was not satisfactory, and this was known to the Ministry of Works. Yet they used the site.

I should also like to draw attention to a third temporary bungalow in Tottenham, known locally as a prefab, where the plan drawn by the engineer shows the level of the concrete bases six inches higher than that erected by the Ministry. Flooding has taken place on several occasions, as it was expected it would for the land is low lying, and, consequently, that bungalow will have to be dismantled or the base will have to be built costing £175.

The Ministry say that it is in the hands of the Tottenham Borough Council to dismantle and erect this bungalow elsewhere, but, frankly, Britain’s dollar position is better than Tottenham’s land position. There are more dollars in this country than there is land in Tottenham, so much so that the borough council have had to buy land outside the boundary to house a proportion of their people. Something like 8,000 are on the waiting list and there is no land available at all.

There has been flooding on several occasions. The Ministry’s officers have been down to see it, and though they were told that it was an old refuse dump and that the base required to be reinforced that was not done. Therefore, the Tottenham Borough Council said, rightly in my opinion, that the expenses ought to be borne by the Ministry of Health, as it was at the time this happened, and now by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government or by the Ministry of Works. The cost of the dismantling and erecting of the bungalow is £850. Obviously that cannot be met out of the amounts sanctioned in the memorandum to which I have referred.

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The birth of Flat Pack Furniture

The Ministry seem to think that the cost for this bungalow can be met by the local authority. The Ministry’s excuse for not paying for this work is that they have no funds available. But neither has the borough council. This expenditure of £850 plus the £175 cannot be met out of revenue. The Tottenham Borough Council will have to go to the Ministry for a loan if it were so desired, and, therefore, the Tottenham Borough Council has a very strong case for saying that no funds are available.

The Tottenham Borough Council being reasonable, offered a compromise. They said that they would carry out the work provided the Ministry found £200, which is a reasonable estimate. That has been refused, and I think the Ministry are being very unreasonable. The defective work was approved by the officers of the Ministry of Works when the bungalows were constructed on land which was a refuse dump, and the land has subsided due to the fact that the concrete base was not reinforced. Therefore, this expenditure should not come out of the amount allowed for repairs and maintenance, but should be placed fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the Ministry.

With regard to the other case which I mentioned, the base there is six inches higher than that erected by the Ministry of Works, and, therefore, in all the circumstances the Tottenham Borough Council are being very fair about this. The Ministry ought to be a bit more reasonable than is shown in the correspondence. There may be some queries as to why the hon. Member for Wood Green raises the question of Tottenham bungalows, but the hon. Member for Wood Green not only represents that area but one-third of Tottenham as well, because one-third of Tottenham is in the division of Wood Green, and these bungalows happen to be in the Parliamentary Division. Therefore, it is my job to raise it in this House, and I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to announce some concession in this matter, which is due to negligence on the part of the Ministry of Works.

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