I've been involved with some of the Higher Broughton residents and I think there's been a lot of work done behind closed doors in Salford – we haven't involved the local people. We've had to get a Public Inquiry to cut out what's been going on so we get this consultation and involve the local people in decisions that they're taking.
All we've been trying to do is retain a small number of properties either at the Top Streets or the Bottom Streets. We had several meetings about the Bottom Streets and they failed, which resulted in Guy and Jimmy being evicted last year. Now we're trying to retain some of the properties on the Top Streets.
Most of the houses that are remaining are in very good condition compared to where I've been working in Hull, Liverpool, Newcastle and Birmingham. I've seen properties around this estate on the other side of Leicester Road and on parts of Wellington Street that are in a far worse condition but they are going to stay up.
It needs a complete review of what they are doing. I've even got e-mails where you've got two contradictory statements by a councillor and two officers about the estate that's left, so we don't even know where they're coming from. I think we need to say `Right, let's put the brakes on, let's all step back, and then go forward with everyone singing from the same hymn sheet'.
We're in the year 2007 and CPOs are draconian ways of resolving problems. They're a violation of human rights and it's time that local councils realise that they serve the people, they're not there to be us and them.
I've been a housing professional for over 40 years and I don't fully understand CPOs, so these poor people at grass roots haven't got a cat in hell's chance to understand any of it. The case in Liverpool, where the judge said that demolishing Liz Pasco's house was an infringement of human rights has turned it into a whole new ballgame. We've got various people saying that it's not applicable but the judge said that it was not legally possible to demolish houses that are in a good condition. I've seen the properties at Edge Lane in Liverpool and these here in Salford are in far better structural condition.
The sad part about the 19 social houses they've put up on Vincent Street is that, in essence, they are rows of terraced houses, the only difference is that they've got pitched roofs and big dormer windows. Cosmetically they look nice because it's a variation and they're new, but after a while they will be tomorrow's slums – the only thing that might save them is if there are only a few. But if they start to do row after row in this area you're repeating the mistakes of previous generations.
The other thing is whether the properties we've replaced are affordable. The ones on Vincent St were about £140,000 and the ones on the playing fields are over £200,000 and that, for local people, is not affordable.
I'm on the Department of Communities and Local Government Advisory Network and I submitted a report to the House of Commons in February 2005 to which the government responded that they wanted to see more refurbishments than demolitions…either Salford Council hasn't seen that document or they chose not to see it. I've now got an e-mail from councillor Merry saying that they're now looking into it. I think they're beginning to turn and accept that they might have been wrong at the outset.
I think this is an ideal opportunity in Salford to all sit around the table, and bring in the people who live here, with the attempt to make this a very successful scheme. And it can be…
If I was a property developer I'd make a million here, dead easy, because over the other side of Leicester Road terraces are going for £100,000 plus. With a few renovations, around £20,000 apiece, these will go like hotcakes. It just needs a little bit of thinning out, some selective demolition, and a few little bits here and there.
You could even do a Lowry offshoot here where you've got refurbished terraced houses that go right back to the time when he did his paintings. If you take off the tarmac the cobbles are still there, you could put up some imitation gas lights, keep all the old fashioned parts about it, have blocks of six houses and make a little LS Lowry museum. You would regenerate this area off the business that would do. Look at what Last of the Summer Wine has done for Holmfirth. I'm sure it would attract people and find a new life for the properties.
What local communities don't want is a wholesale job lot demolition. When you demolish houses, who lives in houses ? Local people. And they are the community and the history and the heritage…
Read Part 1 here
Read Part 2 here
Read Part 3 here
Read Part 4 here
Read Part 6 here