A recent video (below) from Liverpool shows how residents in the Cairns St and wider Granby Triangle area of Toxteth are resisting the deliberate running down of their area by both the local council, Housing Associations and English Partnerships. English Partnerships has now been absorbed into the Homes and Communities Agency, which claims to be "the new national housing and regeneration agency for England." That must be why they've been spending millions (billions?) of pounds demolishing, vandalising and running down whole areas of well-built useable housing across the north of England; this is happening at a time when there are 4.5 million people in the UK on the waiting lists for social housing;
"One person in twelve now on social housing waiting list
LGA media release - Thursday 22 January 2009
Responding to the new Government figures that almost 1.8million households, or 4.5million people, are now on social housing waiting lists, Local Government Association Housing spokesman, Cllr Paul Bettison, said". http://www.lga.gov.uk/lga/core/page.do?pageId=1518784
"HOUSING LIST WAIT 'TOPS 10 YEARS'
Wednesday December 2,2009
It would take one in four local authorities more than 10 years to house everyone on their social housing waiting list, research has claimed.
Housing charity Shelter said it would take between 10 and 33 years for 82 local authorities in England to clear their housing waiting lists at their current rate.
Around 1.8 million households are currently on waiting lists for social housing, but last year only 270,00 properties were let out to new tenants." http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/143584/Housing-list-wait-tops-10-years
The reality is that the national and local state (whichever political party runs them) have made it clear they have no interest in solving the housing crisis. They want to encourage "regeneration" - meaning gentrification and property speculation - in these areas in the hopes of turning some quick profits for themselves and their friends. Why let these old houses and the existing residents stand in the way when there's so much more dosh to be made from throwing up some ugly higher density housing - that won't last anywhere near as long as the present Victorian houses but will pull in higher rent and sales - and putting a trendy gloss on the area with a few art galleries and expensive restaurants to attract the wealthy? (Though they are getting a bit thin on the ground at present - the recession may actually stall this kind of "regeneration" as investors shy away from property investment under present market conditions.)
These speculators and their friends in local and national government know the game they're playing; a bit of apartheid/social cleansing is always good for the bank balance. Will palms will be greased, back-handers be distributed, as has often been the way when government and private entrepreneurs join forces? Surely not... But the locals are fighting back - good for them.
Granby Residents Association
138 Granby Street
Liverpool L8 2US
The following excerpt from the Granby Res. Ass. website provides some history and background to the situation - and shows how local Housing Associations (Liverpool Housing Trust [LHT], Riverside and CDS) have been deliberately failing to carry out repairs to 'encourage' tenants to leave the area. Housing Associations are now often property speculators who treat social housing as a sideline and an asset to borrow against to finance their speculation. (All under the laughable legal status of being "charities".) The HAs obviously have more profitable plans in mind;
The Granby Residents Association
The area with which The Granby Residents Association (GRA) is concerned we call the small Granby Triangle. It is bordered by Mulgrave Street, Princes Road and Avenue, Upper Parliament Street and Kingsley Road. Full membership of the association is for people living or working in the above area. Associated membership is offered to those living and working outside of the Triangle.
The Granby Residents Association was founded in 1994, when all the residents in and around Granby Street received a letter from the Council and the three main Housing Associations (Liverpool Housing Trust [LHT], Riverside and CDS) proposing the demolition of their homes. People were shocked and angry. Paul Ogoro and Anna Mintal of Cawdor Street, with a number of other people, convened a meeting with the intention of challenging the proposal.
In spite of lobbying the various institutions, local peoples’ protests were ignored. Since that time the GRA has tried every possible form of protest, picketing, petitioning and leafleting the council and other institutions.
It has made a variety of proposals, done research, presented a report to the Public Enquiry in 1996, talked with local councillors and key people in Housing Associations (RSLs), to no avail. The Granby Liaison Committee was set up at our suggestion and met for many years. It was initially chaired by Councillor Gideon Ben-Tovim and then by Councillor Alan Dean. We tried to use this committee as a forum to negotiate the best way forward for the people of Granby. It no longer functions.
In the meantime, the RSL’s has made it very difficult for their tenants to stay in their older properties, mainly through lack of maintenance of the houses. This has led to increasing dereliction. The formal definition of this strategy is ‘benign neglect’. Many tenants and people who live outside of Granby have wanted to buy these very attractive Victorian properties. Home Owners have been refused Improvements Grants over the years.
The RSL policy of boarding up properties was so ineffective that the Triangle became a supply base for builders from around the city, who sent their posses in to dismantle the properties, removing many of the attractive features of the older houses. Most of the slates have been removed from the roofs of the vacant properties in Ducie Street. The RSL’s are in receipt of millions of pounds of public money which they have used to buy the properties and to improve them. They would now like to demolish them. Which would have cost over two million pounds. Their policy has been a waste of public money and shows the lack of a long-term strategy for our area.
The RSL’s and the Council have between them decimated our community both physically and psychologically.
Following the public inquiry in 1996, the Granby Triangle was declared a Renewal Area, the first one in Liverpool for 30 years. In spite of this, no money was made available nor strategy developed for the area’s long-term development. The Council continued to demolish houses, buy up shops ‘by agreement’ and issue Compulsory Purchase Orders to people who owned their own homes in the north end of the Triangle. This was done in spite of the resistance from both tenants and owners. It is important that the remaining older houses are handed over to local people, who could not possibly make a worse mess of the area. [...]