The jobs, the houses, the culture that's being built here is aimed at those top 20% of people...or the Young Affluent Professionals (Yappies) as one recent report stated. Yappies, are defined as earning above £27,000 a year and buy up property in "lower priced areas and make them fashionable". Salford was highlighted as a `yappy hot spot'.
To cater for this market you've got developers cherry picking the best land in the City, be that by the riverside or convenient for the Quays and Manc-land. And the flats and town houses they are building are unaffordable to Salfordians who earn, on average half the `yappy' wage. Meanwhile, investors looking to make a quick buck from buy to let and buy to leave are chucking money at the developers, encouraging them to build more and more, with an obliging Council, in many cases, subsidising them in the name of regeneration.
The result ? 40% of flats in the City lie empty while Salford Council admits that it can't bring its own homes up to a Decent Standard. The City's being changed, not for people's needs but for profit. Over the last 12 months we've been trying to show the affect this has on real people's lives…
Poverty In Salford.
A new report from the Joseph Rowntree Trust argues that the gap between rich and poor households in Britain is at a 40 year high. As part of the report, the Social and Spatial Inequality Research Group at Sheffield University produced a map of Britain. It showed shocking figures for Salford's `poor' or `breadline poor' where almost nothing has changed over the last 30 years and in East Salford poverty has actually increased by over 7%…
* The 2000 figures are the latest but according to one of the report's authors, Danny Dorling "Nothing has changed…whatever measure you pick – life expectancy, chances of children getting into University or household wealth…"One Year Of The Salford Star.
….It was obvious to anyone who cared to look – here, in Lower Kersal, East Salford, were two sets of identical terrace houses. One lot were right next to the River Irwell. They were all tinned up, awaiting demolition. The other lot were set well back from the River with a road, a social club and some shops in between. They were staying up. It didn't take a genius to work out that private developers would only be interested in the riverside land, despite the flood risk (issue 1)….
Then, across Littleton Road and into the Lower Kersal estate it was the same story – demolition for the riverside properties, a stay of execution for the rest. At the top of the hill, in Kersal Heights, an old school playing field with protected rare grass was about to be dug up and concreted over, whilst a nursery and sheltered training centre was down for demolition too. Why ?
Again, it was obvious. Sweeping views of Salford and the River. This was a developer's fantasy come to life. Except that this fantasy was being stoked and stroked by £53 million worth of public money to regenerate the area via New Deal for Communities (NDC). And the very people who were supposed to be benefiting from it felt that they were being `socially cleansed'…
"Living as I do on an avenue overlooking the River Irwell I can appreciate more than most the delights of watching geese, swans and ducks descend onto the water" wrote Mike Skeffington (issue1) "This, however, will soon be a thing of the past for me and many others when our houses are replaced by the new luxury properties. The views will become the preserve of the more affluent members of society, who will no doubt be more than eager to take advantage of yet another ideal opportunity presented to them by an accommodating council."
All over the area people voiced their opinions on the `regeneration'…"I don't want to move…the only place they offered me was Little Hulton, Ordsall or somewhere else miles away" said Angela Moss (issue 1) from Whit Lane, which is being demolished to make way for a road and a possible marina.
"What they're trying to do is turn this place into another Salford Quays and they don't need scroats like us around because we'll spoil it" said Caroline Brophy, also from Whit Lane (issue1).
Caroline was actually on the People's Panel for the new Kersal Heights development…"I was completely misled because I believed that the site was being built to re-house people from the clearance areas" she added "I was absolutely gobsmacked when they said that only a few were for council tenants. It's like we don't matter, we don't count…"
Later in the year, the truth came out (issue 3)…the price of the first `affordable houses' on Kersal Heights ? Two homes at £175,000 and one at £140,000. Of the 230 homes being built, only five were to be for social rent…."Go and talk to someone like Paris Hilton or George Michael, where would I get money like that from ?" said Emma Hindle "They're knocking good houses down here for no reason…"
And further down the River Irwell, in Lower Broughton, it was the same story as Riverside Island Tenants Association (RITA) were gearing up for a battle over their homes on the Spike Island estate, having seen a masterplan showing duck ponds and trees where their houses had been (issue1).
"When we first moved here the river had foam floating down it…it was like a pint of Guiness because the factories used to empty everything into it" said members of RITA "Now they've cleaned it up and strengthened it against flood. All of a sudden it's a prime piece of land…and we're surplus to requirements…"
The feelings were summed up by Whit Lane's Graham Cooper (issue1), who described Salford's housing policies as "the dagger in the heart"…
"Thousands of homes are being knocked down for `regeneration', for `nicer homes', for `improved neighbourhoods', for `increased choice'…For who ? Local people ? Not if you live in this brave new land called Central Salford…we're `unsustainable communities'…We're in the way of bright new commuter homes for these new high flying people the Council are trying to attract…"
Nowhere was this more true than Langworthy and Seedley where Urban Splash had won the hearts and minds of regenerators all over the country with its `upside down terrace houses' by Chimney Pot Park. The community, who were originally promised `affordable' £50,000 houses, thought otherwise as the first houses came onto the market for an average price of £120,000…and that after £15million of public money had been paid over to Urban Splash (issue2).
"It's a bit of a smack in the face for all the people who had lived around here" said Jacqueline Booth "They've pulled all the houses down and built these so no-one around here can afford them. I think they're for yuppies coming from the Quays, and the BBC will just make it worse. Where are we supposed to go ?"
With Seedley and Langworthy almost on the doorstep of the Quays and mediacity:uk the BBC move was greeted with fear…"That's it, they're going to take our homes" said tearful residents fighting demolitions across the road from the Urban Splash site.
"They can't say `You...You…and You…we don't want your type in the area" wrote local newsagent, John Yendall "No. But they can knock your house down…"
In Broughton it was the same story of lives in turmoil. Here, loads of terraced houses had already been bulldozed and the communities were fighting for decent compensation and decent new homes…
In Higher Broughton, as Salford City Council was getting slammed by the Audit Commission for its handling of the regeneration (issue 4), brothers Guy and Jimmy Griffiths told how they were forcibly evicted from their terraced homes to make way for the Broughton Green development where new houses are on sale between £235,000 and £480,000…
"I'm seen as a trouble maker by the Council because they had to get the police and the bailiffs to get me out of my house" wrote Guy "But what they're doing here is wrong, just like it is in Langworthy. Basically they're getting rid of people who are poor or working class, so somebody more affluent can come in."
In Lower Broughton, the £500 million Countryside Properties led `regeneration scheme' had 111 affordable houses in its first phase, made available only for people who were having their houses taken off them – anyone else who wanted to move in was being asked to pay £159,000 (issue 4). And few people were happy with the houses they were getting, despite being told that they would help design them in a flagship consultation scheme…
"I think they've listened to us and filed it in the bin tray and all this was happening just to keep us on board" said resident Val Broadbent (issue3). Neighbour, Ann Bailey added "We're not in slum clearance, we're just in the way…"
Mike Thorpe, of the Broughton Action Group, summed up the feeling, not just in Lower Broughton but in the whole of Central Salford…
"People aren't asking for much, either here or in the New Deal area or Langworthy" he said "They're asking to be treated fairly and honestly and up front. If they feel that isn't going to be the case then…it will end up being a very sour area…a bitter area…There will be conflict unless all the problems are addressed…"
The statistics underlined Mike's point (issue 4). Salford City Council has an `affordable housing' policy that states 20-25% of all new properties (in developments with over 25 houses) should be affordable. Between September 2006 and March 2007, in planning applications for nearly 9000 properties a mere 175, or 2%, were classed as `affordable'…