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THE GREAT SALFORD COUNCIL HOUSING HEIST
 

Star date: 30th May 2012

A Salford Star Exclusive

HOW SALFORD COUNCIL DUPED AND DESTROYED A COMMUNITY – PART 1

Yesterday Salford Council made a decision to spend £350,000 refurbishing six houses in Devonshire Street, Higher Broughton, which are the only original houses left out of over 400 in the Top and Bottom Streets.

Salford Council was supposed to refurbish 23 houses for the community but in April 2009 sent a letter out to residents stating it would cost "up to £130,000 per property" to refurbish and therefore the programme wasn't viable. These latest Council figures show that it is now possible to do the refurbishment for an average of £58,333 per property. So has Salford Council been telling the truth to the now destroyed community?

The Salford Star, again, calls for a Public Inquiry.

See here for full details…


HIGHER BROUGHTON TOP STREETS SALFORD HIGHER BROUGHTON TOP STREETS SALFORD HIGHER BROUGHTON TOP STREETS SALFORD
HIGHER BROUGHTON TOP STREETS SALFORD HIGHER BROUGHTON TOP STREETS SALFORD HIGHER BROUGHTON TOP STREETS SALFORD
HIGHER BROUGHTON TOP STREETS SALFORD HIGHER BROUGHTON TOP STREETS SALFORD HIGHER BROUGHTON TOP STREETS SALFORD
HIGHER BROUGHTON TOP STREETS SALFORD HIGHER BROUGHTON TOP STREETS SALFORD
click image to enlarge

How can Salford Council get away with treating its own community like this? Last year, the Salford Star called for a Public Inquiry into the disgrace that is the Higher Broughton regeneration (see here and see here) and again we call for a Public Inquiry. Not that anyone's listening – are they, Mr Ian Stewart Mayor?

Yesterday, in secret, Councillor Gena Merrett, Assistant Mayor for Housing and Environment, sanctioned a contract "to a value not to exceeding £350,000" for refurbishing six houses in Devonshire Street, in the Top Streets of Higher Broughton. This works out at an average £58,333 per house.

But in April 2009, Salford Council's Strategic Director for Sustainable Regeneration, sent out letters to all the remaining residents in the Top Streets stating that "cost estimates received from the partnership in September 2008 indicate refurbishment costs of up to £130,000 per property. These costs are now likely to have increased due to further deterioration in the properties where refurbishment had been contemplated…"

Thus the original plan to refurbish 23 propertieseight in Devonshire Street and 15 in King Street – was not `economically viable' and the houses would be demolished instead. This figure of £130,000 left both the community and local builders staggered (Salford Council won the Salford Star Mary Burns Award for this see here)

Only a year before, the Government itself had quoted a figure just short of £70,000 per property for the Top Streets. And the Salford Star took a local builder (see here) to look at the houses… "I'd say it would cost between £50,000 and £70,000 maximum to completely refurbish even a three bed terrace in Higher Broughton" he said "But £130,000 – where did they get that from? If there's a contract going I'd take it – I'll be able to retire a bit earlier!"

Urban Vision proved the point further in 2009 (see here) when it refurbished a similar style house to those on the Top Streets by charging £55,000 for one virtually across the road from the condemned houses. And in Irlam, City West Housing managed the feat for just over £37,000.

Meanwhile, the Salford Star saw a letter from July 2008, seven months before the community received the £130,000 refurbishment bombshell, sent from Richard Wynne, Director of Property for Urban Vision acting on behalf of Salford Council, to Graeme Hogg of the Council's regeneration partner, Inpartnership, which revealed that "The Partnership has, to my mind, always been rather reluctant to consider refurbishment and would prefer to concentrate on new build."

The Salford Council figure of £130,000 per property was meant to end any hope of any of the community getting even one of the proposed 23 refurbished houses. But three disgusted residents took the Council to the High Court, insisting they get what was promised (see here).

Unfortunately the terms of the High Court case didn't challenge the original Compulsory Purchase Order slapped on the whole area, it was about them personally getting a refurbished house. When the case finished late last year the Council agreed to save only six houses on Devonshire Street.

And yesterday the cost of refurbishing these houses was revealed at an average of £58,333 not £130,000 – which probably would have made the refurbishment `economically viable'.

Meanwhile, Salford Council spent £228,000 on demolishing 108 out of 138 houses in the Top Streets (see here), plus thousands of pounds of public money defending the residents' High Court actions.

Now with the whole demolition of the area, bar six houses, due to be completed this summer, questions remain as to why Salford Council was so keen to bulldoze every residents' home - to the point where it sent out what we believe to be misleading refurbishment figures, and privately stating that the partners didn't want to refurbish anyway …

…And why, in March, Salford Council tore up its own policy on the need for affordable housing for a proposed future development of the area by Countryside Properties (see here). Other questions that need to be answered include whether there was a plan to build houses purely for the expanding orthodox Jewish community in the area at the expense of the existing community…

The Jewish Chronicle reported in February this year… "Succah roofs, kosher kitchens and Israeli-style hand washing basins are features of an 80-unit housing development, for which a planning application is under consideration by Salford City Council. The application by Countryside Properties has found favour with Salford's strictly Orthodox population.

"Suggestions by community members for dining and living spaces suitable for large family gatherings have also been incorporated into the design after Countryside's consultations with local residents" the report added "The three, four and six bedroom properties would replace dilapidated terraced housing and help to relieve a housing crisis among the area's large Jewish community.."

In past interviews with the Salford Star, local councillor and (now former) Leader of Salford Council, John Merry, denied many times that a ghetto was being built. Asked whether the new housing proposals were purely for the orthodox Jewish community he responded during our last interview… "I can assure you that Countryside are not just intending to sell them to orthodox Jews."

There are just so many questions that need to be answered surrounding this one small area of Higher Broughton – did Salford Council mislead the original CPO inquiry into the bulldozing of the Top Streets? Why was there so much secrecy surrounding the finances of the programme, despite millions upon millions of pounds of public money being pumped into the area? We still don't know how much the exact figure is and where it's all gone.

But the main accusation against Salford City Council here is why, despite every shred of evidence to the contrary, it told the community that it couldn't refurbish their houses, as promised, because it would cost £130,000 or more per property?

Only a Public Inquiry would be able to sort this. And the new Mayor of Salford, Ian Stewart, has the power to call this. We won't hold our breath…

See Part 2 - click here

See previous Salford Star articles on the Top Streets...

INSANE SALFORD COUNCIL DEMOLITION DISGRACE - click here

THE ASSASSINATION OF A COMMUNITY - click here

For more Higher Broughton features put the phrase `Top Streets' into the Google search bar on the top of the page

Main graphic image by Jamie Reid

 


Peter Davies wrote
at 10:16:38 on 02 July 2012
Ian Stewart has promised he will suport the people of Salford rather than the Labour Party, lets see him try to get to the bottom of this. This sort of thing has been going on for over 40 years, money, public money wasted time and time again by Council members lying through their teeth, at one time it was uggested they were lining their own pockets, not sure if they were but its high time we knew. Come on Ian live up to your election promises.
 
Al wrote
at 10:03:46 on 12 June 2012
Well said , Sue D . This disgraceful can of worms must be kicked over and exposed to scrutiny . This very unpleasant scandal stinks of fraud . I really hope Stewart can feel us all breathing venom down his neck . Sort it out , Stewart . Heads must roll . Sort your devious council out .
 
SueD-Topstreeter wrote
at 07:36:49 on 12 June 2012
As usual we were the small fish in a big pond & What Salford Council wants, Salford Council gets but, you know what they say, BE CAREFUL WHO YOU SH1T ON AS YOU CLIMB THAT LADDER COS YOU WILL MEET THEM ALL ON THE WAY BACK DOWN !!!! I think Salford Council need to remember this as even the BIGGEST organisations can fall. We all got pressured & treated really badly in the Top Streets and it would be great if we got JUSTICE even if it is years too late........
 
caroline wrote
at 21:54:04 on 31 May 2012
divide and rule said the s.s.get them to fight with each other..so they will came to an end..so here we are agin ,,how can you win when they fight each other?..Jion together.. stop now..for you will fail..One cannot help those who will not help themselves..Public inquiry into all..for all.
 
mal wrote
at 06:47:07 on 31 May 2012
intresting story. one question that came to my mind was this.if the council had deceided to renovate all these houses,would it be the case that the owners of them would have been given grants to cover the cost of the work? i seem to remember that pathfinder money also included renovation work. if that is the case, then apart from the gross injustice caused to the people who owned the houses, there was also a great waste caused in paying them cpo money, demolition costs , removal costs , giving new housing to those unable to buy another house. it all stinks
 
Stephen morris wrote
at 06:46:56 on 31 May 2012
We kept highlighting the wasteful antics of the Labour Council during the Mayoral referendum and Election campaigns however those who turned out to vote still wanted Salford to be governed by Labour, the 70%+ who didnt vote allowed Labour to continue its wasteful tactics to distroy communities. It is highly unlikey Ian Stewart would instigate any investigation given many invoved in the decisions are current serving Labour councillors and some he has just appointed to his cabinet. The sooner people realise that Labour is not the answer for Salford, the sooner communities can start to be rebuilt, not broken up, destroyed and shipped to other parts of the City.
 
Insider wrote
at 06:46:10 on 31 May 2012
When is this Mayor Ian Stewart going to realise that he is surrounded by overpaid numpties like scary spicer!
 
Tahira Chakotai wrote
at 21:07:16 on 30 May 2012
This is just another case that shows the under hand tactics of Salford Council Officials. However, I feel that the residents are as much to blame, for their housing predicament. Over and over again, I have tried to inform Council tenants of their rights, however the information always falls on deaf ears. So many council tenants are to busy fighting with their neighbours, to notice what is going on around them. The only way to stop this Council Housing predicament, is to stop fighting with each other, put your differences to one side, and legally fight those, who demolish your communities. Only as a consortium of like minded people, can you hope to conquer the under handed bullies, that like to call themselves, Salford Council.
 
caroline wrote
at 20:13:18 on 30 May 2012
frist ..great artist.. wish i had done it for u.Hope they listen and you go for public inquiry.U can only try...As my home Bindloss rots..Who gives a dam..Lets hope they listen now for this,,,,
 
how much? wrote
at 17:48:34 on 30 May 2012
If it costs an average of £58,000 to refurbish a large 4 bedroom house on devonshire street, then how much would it have cost to refurbish smaller 2 bedroom houses in the other streets? I know that only 2 of those 6 houses have been occupied for many years and some of the others have been empty for over 10? Obviously the other streets gradually emptied and got broken into and vandalised, but this was because of the way the council handled the whole thing. Could this be a case of the council telling a material inaccuracy or 2 to enable them to get the compulsory purchase order?
 
Sick of Them All wrote
at 13:29:11 on 30 May 2012
Scandalous . Will nothing ever improve in this rotton city ? NO . Come on , Stewart . You cost us taxpayers a fortune , time to pretend to earn it . PUBLIC ENQUIRY NOW . As Stewart has surrounded himself with Assistant- Toady mayors , how about one more - an Assistant Mayor for Investigating The Suspect , Dubious and Wasteful Practices of The Parasites at the Madhouse . PUBLIC ENQUIRY NOW , AND SACK ALL THE INCOMPETENTS . Council work , the refuge of the unemployable .
 
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