Denise Robertson: Twice in my life I lost my home and was rescued. It wouldn't happen now

Journal columnist and TV personality Denise Robertson on the campaign to convince politicians to tackle the housing crisis

Rui Vieira/PA Wire A housing estate
A housing estate

As you read this I’ll be on a train heading for London to join the Homes for Britain rally.

This is an entirely non-political attempt to persuade all politicians that Britain needs more homes. There were 1.7 million households on waiting lists in England in 2013 and the number is rising.

Twice in my life I’ve lost the roof over my head. At two months I was carried from a home repossessed by the bank after my father’s business crashed. Forty years on I was dispossessed again when my then husband’s business failed.

The first time we were given a council house and I happily grew up there. The second time a kindly bank manager loaned me a few thousands to put a deposit on a vandalised house, which served us well until the tide turned.

Neither of those things would happen today. There is no available social housing and no friendly bank manager to lend a family without a steady occupation the price of a deposit because that deposit would have to be of astronomical proportions.

Families who fall on hard times now fester in B&Bs or live with relatives. A lucky few are placed by councils in private properties at exorbitant rents, all because of failure to build social housing over the last 20 years.

Another scandal is the number of people being priced out of the housing market by soaring prices. If house prices rise in the next 30 years as they have in the last 30 the average home will be worth £1.2m. No chance of ownership for the average worker.

Unless politicians of all parties co-operate the outlook is scary and an end can only come through an increase in supply. That’s why Homes for Britain will hold their rally and wage an advertising campaign to bring home the message that action is needed. And that’s why I’ll be there, lending my voice to the plea.

  • The debate about political debates goes on and on and on. ‘Is David Cameron chicken?’ is the usual question.

I have another one. Ever since TV bosses revealed plans for debates featuring leaders of the three main parties, along with the Greens, Ukip, Welsh nationalists Plaid Cymru and Scotland’s SNP, I have been wondering who put them in charge.

Prime Minister David Cameron makes a statement to the media on the killing of British aid worker David Haines
Prime Minister David Cameron makes a statement to the media on the killing of British aid worker David Haines

Shouldn’t politicians have got together and thrashed out a regime fair to all? The TV companies have taken it upon themselves to invite parties from three parts of the United Kingdom but ignored Northern Ireland. The DUP have more MPs than many of the parties allowed to debate. It doesn’t make sense.

Why are our democratic leaders not pointing out the omission? Could it be because they’re all so busy trying to be top dog they’ve forgotten about fairness?

  • I thought Britain’s courts no longer had the power to shock me but I was wrong.

A woman who was tortured for seven hours by her former partner in front of their children is being forced to write to him in prison – or face being jailed herself.

Natalie Allman, 29, was battered and slashed across the throat by Jason Hughes because he wanted to make her ‘ugly’ after she ended their relationship.

Now she has been ordered to provide him with regular updates about their twin sons, this in spite of the fact that I know of several mothers who have lost their children on grounds of ‘emotional harm’ simply because the children saw them brutalised by partners.

Perhaps Natalie should be glad that she has at least been allowed to keep her children, even if the cost is that she must give her attacker details of life with the children, then aged two, he left covered in her blood.

She suffered eight wounds to her head and five fractures to her face bones. She also needed cosmetic surgery to rebuild her throat

‘We are the victims, not him,’ she says. ‘I thought he was going to kill me that night and my boys saw that. They were terrified.’

Usually I am all in favour of both parents keeping contact with children after a split but is this a father who deserves contact with his children? Not in my book.

  • The world may be rocking on its axis but the word on everyone’s lips seems to be ‘Clarkson’.

Is he the nice guy and huge talent The Prime Minister sees him as or a bully and a bigot who loves to push things as far as he dare?

I’m sick of the sound of his name but I’m reserving judgement till we know the facts. Is he a man who had worked hard through a long day and was then presented with little more than bread and cheese? If that is the case, and if it’s also true that no real blow was struck, perhaps he deserves another chance.

But if, as at least one paper reported, he didn’t get back to his hotel before the chef finished his shift because he stayed two hours in a pub then he’s a selfish swine who thinks that little men toiling in hot kitchens should forget about going home until his whims have been satisfied.

And if it’s also true, as reported in at least one paper, that his victim needed hospital treatment, then he should be facing a criminal charge, not an in-house inquiry.

I await the facts, unlike the almost one million fans, and a Prime Minister, who have said that, no matter what he’s done, he should get off scot-free.

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