John Merry, the leader of Salford Council, was in the paper a long time ago saying "We aim to re-house with dignity" – now is that a joke or is that a joke ? Where's the bloody dignity here ?
They made us offers at the beginning that they couldn't follow through. They changed the goalposts so many times. They came round – `What kind of house would you like ?' And to some of the older people…`Do you want bungalows ?'…And they all said `Yes that would be lovely'. And they build everyone's hopes and dreams up and then look where we are now – all these tinned up properties...
We always said at the meetings that we wanted semi-detached houses with a bit of a driveway so we can get our cars off the road …maybe a small garden at the back, just a bit of your own space. `Oh yes, yes, fine, fine' they said. And then I went to another meeting a little further down the line and the woman there said `Oh no, no…they won't be semi detached, they'll be in a row but there'll be different roofs'…I said `Hang on, you're telling us that there's no need for pavement terraces any more and what are you building but a block of terraced houses ?'
Then do you know what she said ? It's a classic and I swear it's the truth…she said `Well the ones on the end will be like semi-detached…'
I said `Are you for real ? You silly witch, of course they will because they won't have neighbours on the end of them – or else they'll be a continuous line or a circle'. I thought `Does she think we're so simple ?'
We got offered so many things – `You can swap like-for-like' – that went out the window. `The council will give it you as an interest free loan' – that went out of the window.
My next door neighbour, Jeanette, was 85 and died of cancer before she managed to get out of here. She lived here all her married life. In a way I'm glad she's died because I don't think she could have coped with all of this…
You're getting 70 year old people having to move into new houses that they don't want, otherwise they would have done it a long time ago. Ken across the road is blind – he can't see anything and has got to learn all over again where he's walking in his own home. Who in their late 70s, when they're not in good health, wants to go looking for houses to buy and negotiate all the pitfalls of buying a house ? I'm 56 and I don't want to take on a thing like that. I find it all really stressful.
I'm waiting for an offer from the council and somewhere to live . I'm not going to buy a house, why should I invest all my money into another house at my age ? I'm 18 months away from finishing my mortgage, only for the house to be snatched away from me at the last minute. But it's my home, I've worked really hard for this.
They've offered me £39,000 and I'm still negotiating. I was thinking of buying somewhere but you've got to stay within the central Salford area and I didn't want a house here after what's gone on and I can't see things getting any better. So I've opted for a council house. First of all they told me I couldn't have a council house, they only gave flats to single childless people with no disabilities…what do they want me to do, adopt ? Cut a leg off ? `Like for like' went out of the window a long time ago. You think to yourself why should I go into a flat – I've got my house and this is it.
If I would have bought a house in central Salford it would have had to be a fantastic house needing no repairs because all my money would have been tied up in it, with no money for repairs, to fix the boiler it's broken or fix a window frame. When they talk about a new house they say `You've got your relocation grant and the disturbance money' but is it only me who thinks that your upheaval money and your disturbance money is yours, to put new carpets in and make things nice and comfortable – why should you have to plough that into the actual money that's paying for the house ?
They make it sound like they're offering you a good deal and maybe to some of them it has been but I don't think anyone has really got a good deal out of this.
All demolition does is divide and rule – divide all the community up so they can conquer the land back again and use it for whatever they want to use it for. And once that community has been split up, they go and make their lives elsewhere. What else are they supposed to do ? I know just one person who has moved out of a demolished house and moved back into the new houses. The only way it's benefited most of the community is that they've now moved away from this regeneration and hopefully are living in nice houses somewhere else…I think it's for the benefit of the people who are making the money…
I suppose that once these Top Street houses are demolished - if they are - they'll build new houses and bring in a new community…but unless they look after that community, as they haven't looked after us, in 20 years time where are they going to be ?
Read Part 1 here
Read Part 2 here
Read Part 3 here
Read Part 5 here
Read Part 6 here