"Salford needs to scale up its resistance to these insidious and visceral processes of social cleansing before it is too late..." Professor Loretta Lees
This Thursday 12th January sees an event at the People's History Museum, part of which will launch a new magazine called All Materials of Value, which provides a withering judgement on the £650million Pendleton Together PFI (Private Finance Initiative) `gentrification project' around the Salford Precinct area.
Contributors to the magazine – academics, photographers, artists and students from Pendleton College - were merely invited to walk around the area and respond to what was happening. The results are laid bare in the publication which takes its name from the Salford Council stencils on tinned up properties... `All materials of value have been removed...'
"The public narratives used to promote the PFI emphasised how it would create a better housing stock, in this case refurbishing 1,250 publicly owned homes and building 1,600 new private and so called 'affordable homes'" state project co-ordinators, Jane Brake and John van Aitken in the intro "...What these public narratives failed to highlight was that the 1,600 new homes would be built in places where council housing tenants had been evicted and good council homes demolished.
"Neither did these narratives account for the large number of residents who were displaced, the vast reduction in council housing and the inability of local people to afford any of the new properties tantalising labelled as 'affordable homes'" they add "The new development also failed to adequately address the extensive long term poverty characteristic of Pendleton, except by constructively eliminating many of the poorest people from the area and encouraging more affluent newcomers in.
"By getting rid of people it seemed that Salford Council hoped it would rid itself of its problems" they conclude.
The sixty page publication is part of an Arts Council funded project by the Institute of Urban Dreaming (IUD). It features photographs of the area, an art response, a poem, a Salford Rubber Stamp Set and an extensive history of previous misguided plans for the Precinct/Hanky Park area. And it sees contributors line up to shoot down Pendleton Together and Salford City Council with a metaphorical bullet straight between their self-glorifying eyes.
Pendleton Together and the Salford Mayor, Paul Dennett, were last seen dragging socialist Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn around Pendleton to show him their social experiment, while a host of celebrities have also been enlisted to endorse it, ranging from Bobby Charlton to Peter Hook.
Professor Loretta Lees, who is also speaking on Gentrification and Displacement at Thursday's event, absolutely lays into the whole concept of Pendleton Together "...it is a gentrification frontier in a city with a strong (if threatened) working class identity" she writes "Will it be the end of Salford as we know it, as the industrial working class image of Salford is overlain by a new middle class image of Manchester?
"Salford needs to scale up its resistance to these insidious and visceral processes of social cleansing before it is too late" she concludes "We need to see a socially just form of urban regeneration, not gentrification."
Indeed the criticisms go on and on... "Is it any coincidence that the area that gets starved of public funds just happens to be the same one for redevelopment for luxury flats by a semi-private developer?" asks Dale Lately "Or that areas filled with social housing in the form of tower blocks or terraces – areas that represent economic burdens for the local authorities – seem to be the ones allowed to slide into rack and ruin by the cash strapped council, because, well, didn't you hear there was a recession on?
"One doesn't need to conspiracy hunt to see a complex of local and national dynamics: combine a national policy like the Bedroom Tax with a local strategy of tearing down tower blocks, for example, you make it possible to halve the size of socially-housed families when you re-house them" he adds
"What you're seeing is a displacement between two layers of the working class – the `non-working working class' on benefits or whatever getting replaced by the `working working class'" he explains "And they generally pay local rates and claim less benefits, so the council gets to balance its budget. You can see why they like these schemes...
"Fifty or sixty years ago it would have seemed natural that the changemaker would be the state" he concludes "Now it seems equally natural to most that it should be the private sector, that these should be homes for profit – homes not for citizens, but rather for citizen-consumers, the aspirational everyday heroes of the new age..."
Simon Faulkner, in his response to the Pendleton makeover, contrasts the "stark inequalities" between the new community Salford City Council is trying to attract and those left behind, who need "stringent policing to keep those without an officially sanctioned role in the new order in their place"...
He sees it all as an attempt to `civilize' Pendleton... "It is a city that is starkly circumscribed by class difference and functions on this basis, but is also in denial about the reality of this situation" he writes "It is a city of apparent openness and freedom, but also one of exclusivity and bounded-ness. Those who are not part of the network, who are restricted to one place by their lack of 'employability', by their lack of resources, and by poverty – all things that are their own fault in the neoliberal world view – are not properly part of this city."
Copies of All Materials of Value will be handed out at the event on Thursday – and every citizen of Pendleton, plus all Salford City Council officers, councillors, and anyone else caught up in the regeneration industry seriously needs to read this publication to get a reality check.
Thursday 12th January 4pm-8pm
People's History Museum M3 3ER
The event is free – to register click here.
Over the evening there are a number of related films, talks and exhibitions...
4pm - Event opening in the Engine Room – A brief Introduction by the Institute of Urban Dreaming (IUD)
4:15pm - Film screening of 'Estate, A Reverie' by Andrea Luka Zimmermann, followed by Q&A.
6:30pm – Dr Nicholas Mansfield talk - 'Owenites, Chartists to Clarion Socialists and their educational spaces'
7pm - Professor Loretta Lees talk – 'Gentrification and Displacement'
7:30pm – IUD Closing Talk - Magazine Launch 'All Materials of Value'
7:45pm – Questions and Responses
For more details on the work of the Institute of Urban Dreaming – click here
*See also related previous Salford Star article on Pendleton – Councillor Paul Longshaw Wins Affordable Housing Hypocrisy Revolving Door Award... click here