Feb. 18 (Bloomberg) — Guy Hands, the U.K. investor, says he hasn’t visited his wife and two school-age children at their home in Kent, where he was born near London, since April.
The founder of Terra Firma Capital Partners Ltd (the company that is currently evicting several families from Sweet Way Estates in West Hendon), never flies through London airports and has missed industry awards in the U.K. capital since moving to Guernsey in the Channel Islands to reduce taxes, according to court filings. He doesn’t see his parents or his doctors in London anymore.
The decision to become a tax exile has proven a “burdensome option for me and my family,” Hands said in documents filed Feb. 4 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan as he sought to prevent a court fight with Citigroup Inc. from being heard in the U.K. His story is a cautionary tale for bankers and money managers who are tempted to flee London’s rising taxes.
“It’s a personal choice: you have to trade off the right infrastructure, work environment, the country you grew up in, your family, the schools, your whole life, with wealth,” said Richard Wilson, partner at London-based private equity firm Apax Partners LLP.
Contrast Mr Hands woes with those currently being experienced by the tenants of Sweets Way.
Sweets Way has been used in the last few years as social housing for local families, some on long term temporary accommodation arrangements, of the sort we have seen at West Hendon, denying people the full protection of secure tenancy, and making them easier to dispose of – to ‘decant’, when they themselves become ‘surplus to requirement’.Their homes are now to be demolished, to make way for a new development approved by Barnet Council last December, after a previous one, a very similar one, was turned down just a couple of months before the local elections of last year.
Barnet Council has had plenty of time to arrange for the families of Sweets Way to be given alternative accommodation, but has failed to do so with any semblance of competence. This has led to terrible outcomes for some families, mercilessly evicted like tenants in the Irish famine, emptied out onto the streets, their possessions dumped there by bailiffs, the residents left to fend for themselves.
Meet two residents about to be evicted from Sweets Way: one was Peter, a very nice, elderly man with complex health problems, who had suffered a heart attack at the end of last year as a result, he said, of the stress caused by the looming eviction, and his worry about finding a new home. He had accepted alternative accommodation, only to find housing officers had given the property to someone else, and then told him he must take up a place in Hanwell.
The other was a lovely woman called Shereen, who had two teenage sons. Here are photos of the accommodation she was expected to move to by Barnet Homes: a flat on another ‘regeneration’ estate, so clearly again for another limited tenancy – but this place was simply foul: appalling.
Filthy, damp, squalid: with broken windows, uninhabitable.
Sweets Way was home to around 160 families: all to be evicted, as we have seen, with no real consideration of the difficulty of finding suitable accommodation for them to move to. Only ten families remain. Eviction, court orders, bailiffs: all arranged with logistical efficiency. Rehousing? A matter of indifference, it seems, to Barnet Homes. Families uprooted, given one choice of accommodation, suitable or not, in any location, and in any state of repair.
From the first tweet, denied by Barnet Council, claiming that the children of some evicted family had been taken into care, to the scenes witnessed and filmed by local housing campaigners, of bailiffs evicting tenants and their possessions onto the street. This kind of puts Mr Guy Hand’s troubles into perspective does it not?
What do you think Prime Minister?
Facts courtesy of ‘Broken Barnet & the FT’