The Westminster Scandal: Doctor unearthed 'immoral' policy: The Complainant

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IN THE BEST traditions of the doctor who cares for the local community as well as treating the sick, Dr Richard Stone began to unearth the trail that yesterday led to the biggest scandal ever known in local government.

Dr Stone has been a GP in Bayswater area of west London for 20 years, and often deals with patients whose health may depend on decent housing.

'I was going on my rounds, visiting patients in Bayswater. If I saw a flat that had become empty, I thought, 'At least that means that someone from the housing list is going to be rehoused, or someone with a doctor's note who needs to be rehoused for medical reasons, is going to be helped'.

Instead, months went by and the flats remained empty. 'Not only that,' Dr Stone continued, 'Big disgusting steel doors were erected, and huge grilles put up. I thought this was outrageous.'

After about six months he decided to make some inquiries, and discovered that was council policy. 'It was immoral. I discovered later that it was costing the council pounds 50 a week just to put these steel doors up, and at the same time the council was paying for bed and breakfast for people without homes. They only sold two flats in the first year, and this is the party that was preaching efficiency. I spoke to a few people and I wrote my first letter to the District Auditor in February 1988, six years ago, asking for an urgent inquiry. I think what has gone on is immoral, as well as a waste of my money, taxpayers' money.

'In other boroughs when this kind of thing happens, councillors are surcharged within six months.

'This report - which is only an interim one - is the first that I have heard since I sent my initial letter.'

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