RESIDENTS of a York street have reacted furiously to the decision by City of York Council's housing allocations team to give a tenancy to a family with no criminal record and no history of claiming benefits.
Schoolteachers Christian and Harriet Jones, both 31, and their children Amber, 11, Tabitha, 8, and three-year-old twins Harry and Louis moved into their new home just off Walmgate two weeks ago after the council refurbished the 4-bedroom property which had lain empty for four years and had acted as a haven for drug users and underage drinkers and was also a target for vandals.
However council officials, expecting the news of the house being let to be welcomed by local residents, were dismayed to be inundated with complaints from local residents worried that the Jones family would dramatically alter the character of the area.
A Rust reporter popped into local pub, The Brown Cow, on giro day to try and gauge public opinion. Local crime lord Les Thickley, 45, told The Press"The council must be off their heads putting these sort of people in the street. Rumour has it they even pay their TV licence!"
Another resident, Arthur Dole, 62, chairman of the estates Policewatch* scheme remarked "This is typical of the council. They never think of us non-Council Tax payers. My family have been on benefits for nearly 20 years now and they go and house a bunch of self sufficient workers on our street. Now we will have to put up with them waking us up at 8 in the morning when they go to work and we are trying to sleep off our Lynx."
Mr Dole also complained that the council had removed a burnt out car that had been in the Jones' garden since 2002 and that all the downstairs windows had been replaced. "My son and his mates spent a full weekend smashing those windows, turns out it was a complete waste of time."
Other locals joined in the criticism of the Jones' family moving into the street. The resident burglar, Billy Robbins, 52, who asked to remain anonymous, was disappointed to see that the refurbished house had a burglar alarm and when he had tried getting in through the windows he observed that "They all had them bloody secure locks on them! How am I supposed to make a decent living if the council restrict my trade like this?"
Local drug dealer Wayne Scrote, 14, was also unimpressed saying "I doubt the Jones' kids will be into crack or smack. I bet they don't even smoke weed! I saw one of them doing poncey artwork in Space 109 too..."
The Jones family themselves are far more optimistic. Christian told us that he would try and integrate into his new community and promised not to raise the standards too highly. "Who are we to drag these people up into our way of life?" he said. His wife Harriet added "As long as the worst that happens is our car being vandalised or the kids getting attacked on the way home from school then we will be happy here I'm sure"
City of York Council's housing spokesman said it was against policy to comment on individual cases, however local councillor, Labour's Alexander James, told us that he fully expected the whole furore to blow over and that "Before you know it, the Jones' will all be on the dole and the kids will be all tracksuited up. That is the kind of community spirit we have round here."
*Policewatch is an independent group where residents watch out for police activity and liaise with their co-ordinator in order to warn criminals that the police are in the area. If you would like to start your own Policewatch then please contact Arthur Dole in the Brown Cow between 11am-11pm Monday-Sunday. He is the one in the string vest who looks like Onslow on a bad day.