6 SEPTEMBER 1975, Page 14

Chelsea squalor

One Spectator reader who took a very serious view of our recent disclosures on squatters was the senior waiter in my St James's Street Club, Joe Stott. Stott, as he is known, asked me round to see the appalling situation in Christchurch Street, Chelsea, where he lives. Christchurch Street is something of a cause célèbre, much quoted by Lord Melchett in the Times letter pages. Stott is accustomed to stylish living — he was chief steward on the luxury liner Lakonia. He is also accustomed to disasters — he was on board when it sank one midwinter night, drowning many passengers. His chief complaint is that the council has put the rates up while the property owners Cadogan Estates have still not been compelled to tidy the place up and get rid of the squatters' lurid paintwork and broken-down cars. He has written to Mrs Thatcher who lives round the corner. To brighten the place up he has a vast array of pot plants which he entered for the Brighter Chelsea and Kensington Garden competition. He was beaten into second place by that other Council baiter Derek Nimmo — who won popularity among local rate-payers by emptying the contents of his dustbin onto a judge's desk in court as a protest against idle dustmen. Stott's faith in the system took a severe blow, however, when a member of the club visited the house opposite the other day. He was the father of the girl with two children who is living with a noisy impecunious art student, on social security. Stott was far too discreet to tell me who it was.