[noborders-brum] The low-down on Councillor John Lines

phunkee at aktivix.org phunkee at aktivix.org
Mon May 29 14:59:54 UTC 2006

Hey People,

Here are a couple of news stories about birmingham councillor John Lines.
As well as being convicted as a psychopathic neighbour from Hell and
massaging homeless statistics, Lines also claims to have 'cropped' luxury
items including licensed TVs from a housing deal for asylum seekers.

Does anyone know anymore about this claim?




City refuses refugees a free television

May 2 2006

By David Bell, Birmingham Mail

A "NO luxuries" ban has been slapped on nearly 2,000 asylum seekers who have
jumped the queue for Birmingham city council homes.

Allegedly essential living aids - like a 20in colour TV with licence paid
- have been cropped from an accommodation agreement the city is about to
sign with the Home Office.

Cabinet housing chief John Lines is insisting that the 260 homes being
reserved for asylum seekers should be furnished only to basic standard.

The deal contrasts with those reached with private landlords who are
required to provide a licensed 20in colour TV, moisture resistant
flooring, electrical appliances and furnishings - including two ashtrays.

"There is no way that asylum seekers will be supplied with luxuries paid
for by the taxpayer that some of our 70,000 tenants can't afford," said
Coun Lines.
"The homes allocated for asylum seekers under the new deal with the
Government are not exactly salubrious and will be furnished with basic
essentials only.
There will certainly be no colour TVs with licences paid from council taxes."

For the past three years the city has taken 460 council homes out of
general use and reserved them for asylum seekers sent from the SouthEast
by Government agencies.

Around 200 of the flats have remained empty, with Whitehall paying rent to
the city.

The new "no frills" agreement covers only 250 homes for 600 asylum seekers -
half the previous number.

"I am not entirely happy to be signing up for this, but at least we have
halved the numbers," said Coun Lines. "And if I don't agree to it, the
Government will still disperse them to Birmingham anyway."

He said having to keep 200 homes empty while the city was faced with
thousands of families claiming to be homeless was a nonsense and a waste
of public money.

"Under the new agreement the number of asylum seekers has been halved. And
there will be no luxuries like colour TVs paid for from taxes."



Housing boss was 'neigbour from hell'

Aug 15 2004

By Jeanette Oldham, Sunday Mercury

A leading Midland councillor fighting the scourge of neighbours from hell
was once convicted of battering the man next door with a wooden plank.

John Lines, 59, is the new Conservative head of housing at Birmingham City

A vital part of his £42,000-a-year job is tackling anti-social behaviour by
council tenants who can make the lives of neighbours a misery.

But back in May 1983, Coun Lines was convicted of assaulting a businessman
in a row over a greenhouse.

The then fledgling councillor was fined £200 by Birmingham magistrates,
who were told how he hit his elderly neighbour's son-in-law Thomas Denny
across the back with a stick.

He followed up the attack by holding Mr Denny by the throat on the ground.

The court heard how his victim suffered a bruised shoulder, headaches and
dizziness for a week after the attack.

Coun Lines was also bound over in the sum of £100 to keep the peace for a

Married Mr Lines became a councillor for Bartley Green in 1982 - and has
cut a colourful and controversial figure ever since.

He was nominated for mayor in 2000 but was rejected by Labour and Liberal
Democrats for being too right-wing for multi-cultural Birmingham.

But he was made cabinet member for housing when the Tories and Lib Dems took
control of the city council after 20 years of Labour rule at the local
elections in June.

Bragging that the council would issue so many Anti-Social Behaviour Orders
"they would be like confetti", he said recently: "People have a right to
be protected from the harassment of neighbours from hell.

"We will work together to ensure that the high level of anti-social
behaviour in Birmingham becomes a thing of the past."

Last night his victim admitted he was amazed that his attacker had been
given responsibility for tackling anti-social behaviour in the city.

Mr Denny, who runs his own office business, said: "My wife and I have seen
him on the local news talking about these issues.

"I don't consider him to be a very nice man. He attacked me when I went to
talk to him about my mother-in-law's greenhouse.

"She lived next door to John Lines in Bartley Green. She had let him put his
greenhouse in her garden but he put her through an awful time and in the end
she wanted nothing to do with him.

"I told him he had to move the greenhouse but he said the land was now his
and he was invoking squatters' rights.

"I told him he'd have to move it or I would, and I kicked the greenhouse.
I know that was provocative but I'd had enough of him by that stage.

"I walked off but he came after me and hit me over the head with a plank of
wood. I was on the ground barely conscious when he got on top of me and
started throttling me."

Mr Denny's wife Pam claimed that the councillor was sometimes abusive to her
elderly mother, Evelyn Foster.

"She was called names over the fence," she said. "Her bins were stuffed with
rubbish until they were overflowing. Old brake pads were pushed through her

"After the court case, things got worse. We moved my mother to a flat near
us but she died six months later. She had a heart problem and I think all
these problems contributed to her decline.

"In the end my mum was frightened even to go outside."

When challenged by the Sunday Mercury Coun Lines vehemently denied ever
harassing Mrs Foster.

"I looked after that woman," he said. "I did her garden, I did everything
for her. I'm very hurt by these accusations."

And the council chief insisted that he was the right man for the job
despite his conviction.

"What happened was 22 years ago and I have been punished for it," he said.

"I think my experience over the years, including the assault, has helped
to make me the best person for the job.

"I am going to ensure that our tenants get a better deal than people did 20
years ago. Lots of people make mistakes and I have made plenty over the

"But I was just defending my property. I think everyone in Birmingham has
the right to do that.

"The anti-social behaviour units we now have help people sort out their
disputes before they get out of hand. Sadly they weren't about 20 years

jeanette_oldham at mrn.co.uk



Homes chief urged to quit

Oct 26 2005

By Jonathan Walker, Birmingham Mail

BIRMINGHAM MPs demanded the resignation of a Birmingham cabinet member, as
they launched an unprecedented attack on the local authority in the House
of Commons.

Coun John Lines, the Cabinet Member for Housing, was accused of "hiding" the
problem of homelessness in the city.

Northfield MP Richard Burden (Lab Northfield) challenged him to prove
claims he was simply complying with Government policy - or stand down from
his £42,247 cabinet job.

He was speaking in a Commons debate, accompanied by fellow Labour MPs Steve
McCabe (Hall Green), Lynne Jones (Selly Oak) and Gisela Stuart (Edgbaston).

Labour MPs claim tenants who are forced to leave their homes for legitimate
reasons are being denied help from the council - unless they fight the
eviction in court.

But Coun Lines (Con, Bartley Green) insists the authority is complying with
advice issued by the Government.

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