Despite the huge setback of the Government refusing to sign off £79million of PFI credits for Pendleton's regeneration…and despite Salford Council and its PFI partners, Keepmoat and Together Housing Group, refusing to comment on that (see previous Salford Star exclusive here), City Mayor Ian Stewart launched the first phase of the project this week…
The first £40million phase of the Pendleton Together regeneration includes a new park, a road and 300 new family homes and apartments, of which only 110 will be affordable.
When asked by Andy Crane on his BBC Radio Manchester show this week (see here) whether the people who have had their homes demolished as part of the clearance would benefit from the new houses being built, Ian Stewart, incredibly, replied that he didn't know…
`If you redevelop an area, will those who will lose their homes be the ones who get straight into it or will there be competition?' asked Andy Crane.
"Nobody knows, to tell you the truth" replied Stewart, who then began waffling on about his first council house in Glasgow, before Crane interrupted him…
`That's a touching story but you didn't answer my question…If the people in Pendleton lose their homes through regeneration are they the people who will directly benefit from the new properties?'
"I did answer your question Andy, I don't know" said Stewart "It's as simple as that…Nobody knows, we'll just have to wait and see."
`The people might be a bit concerned about that…'
"I would think so and maybe quite properly" said Stewart "But nobody has a magic wand to determine what the future holds…"
This is an absolutely shocking admission for a scheme that is costing Salford Council tax payers millions of pounds. During the last financial year alone, 2011-12, over £1million was spent by the Council clearing people out of their houses. A further £819,621 was spent on a `project team' and £450,000 was spent on consultants…
…Yet the Mayor of Salford `doesn't know' if the people of Pendleton will actually get one of the new houses in the first phase of the regeneration?
As the interview progressed, and now kind of realising what he had said, Stewart added, confusingly…"If those residents wish to move into those homes and they are acceptable to them that's great, if they choose to go elsewhere that's great…"
Unfortunately, almost all of the people who have had their homes taken off them have been moved to other properties before any building has begun.
In the first £40million phase of the Pendleton Together project, only 110 of 300 new properties will be affordable and for rent. In the overall £430million scheme, only around 500 homes out of 1500 being built will be affordable. This compares with 885 affordable properties being bulldozed. Some might say that it stinks of social cleansing. Particularly given Pendleton's proximity to MediaCityUK and the University of Salford.
Whether the full Pendleton scheme actually happens is in doubt at the moment, with the Government refusing to sign off £79million of PFI credit as the cost to tax payers is too expensive.
Having refused to make a statement at the time the Salford Star broke that story, the Mayor's press statement adds a small paragraph at the very end of the release issued to coincide with the launch of the first phase of the regeneration… `Meanwhile, the City Council is in discussions with the Government about funding mechanisms for the wider PFI project. The council remains 100 per cent committed to ensuring the plans go ahead to continue the transformation of Pendleton…'
See also Salford Star article from print issue Picking Pendleton's Pockets - click here
* At the beginning of the interview with Andy Crane, Mayor Ian Stewart said of the Pendleton Regeneration…
"We need to have a whole city approach but we have to start somewhere and we're starting here in Pendleton and we hope to move outwards throughout other areas of the city…"
Where on earth does he mean? Langworthy (see here)? Lower Kersal and Charlestown (see here)? Broughton (see here)? These areas have had hundreds of £millions of pounds poured into them already, with few positive results…