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ANDY BURNHAM ROASTED BY HOMELESS AT GREATER MANCHESTER MAYOR HOUSING HUSTINGS
 

Star date: 4th April 2017

GM MAYOR CANDIDATES GIVEN HARD TIME AT SALFORD HOUSING HUSTINGS

"You as a Labour Council...have let down everyone; you have not stood by your community...now you're stood here giving us a load of PR blurb..." campaigner

Last night, at the Greater Manchester Mayor hustings on housing, candidates were given a hard time by homelessness campaigners – not least red hot Labour Party favourite, Andy Burnham, who was constantly interrupted by catcalls. The Tory, UKIP and LibDem candidates were also subject to angry interjections, as cynicism took hold at the Salford debate.

Full details here...


Greater Manchester Mayor Housing hustings in Salford Greater Manchester Mayor Housing hustings in Salford Greater Manchester Mayor Housing hustings in Salford
Greater Manchester Mayor Housing hustings in Salford Greater Manchester Mayor Housing hustings in Salford Greater Manchester Mayor Housing hustings in Salford
click image to enlarge

So, the Labour Party Greater Manchester Mayor candidate and red hot favourite, Andy Burnham, is here, confidently answering a question about the break-up of communities in Ordsall...

"The danger we have with the way that things are going in Greater Manchester is that it's too developer led at the moment; it's as if big developers can say what they want and that is just served up to them rather than thinking about places, thinking about communities" he says

"...The Greater Manchester Housing Fund has been used so far to build luxury flats in city centres and my view is that it should be focused on solving the housing crisis, and that is building homes of a size that people can afford to rent or to own" he adds "I will use that Fund to regenerate communities at the same time, rather than build soulless urban development. I pay tribute to the elected Mayor of Salford City Council, Paul Dennett, who has taken a lead on this...new homes being built that are genuinely affordable...."

One of the campaigners against homelessness can take it no longer and interrupts...

"The housing crisis has started because you as a Labour Council have refused to back local communities; you as a Labour Council, nobody else" he shouts "You have let down everyone...you have not stood by your community, you have not stood by people, you have sold everybody out...

"You've carried on and carried on; now you're stood here in front of us all giving us blurb we don't need" he adds to huge cheers and applause "There's children dying in doorways and you're sat there giving a load of PR blurb. Get off your backsides and do something about it..."

Welcome to the bear pit at St Philip's Church in Salford, just off Chapel Street and smack in the middle of some of the worst examples of publicly subsidised unaffordable housing in Greater Manchester...

Before the candidates have even got into the building they're subjected to a protest outside the venue by homelessness campaigners, who have pitched a tent and placards calling for more affordable housing and an end to the housing crisis.

Inside the packed hall, on the platform are candidates Sean Anstee for the Conservatives, Jane Brophy for the LibDems, Will Patterson for the Greens and Shneur Odze for UKIP, as well as Labour's Andy Burnham. The English Democrats complain that their candidate wasn't allowed to take part.

The theme is housing and each candidate is asked to say what they are going to do about it, if elected....

Will Patterson, for the Greens, gets applauded, arguing that he would use empty buildings as homeless shelters as a first step, and how "we need to understand it's a travesty of justice that in this city we have elected politicians championing the construction of luxury high rises, while doing so little for those who sleep on the streets...

"The elected Mayor has to change that vision and start looking at those who need help most" he adds "We need to get people access to services and jobs as well. Housing first, then other issues...."

Next up is UKIP's Shneur Odze, who explains that "housing associations should be charged with being more transparent" and that "housing tenants associations should be advocates for housing rights"...

"We need to build more public housing" he adds, to a crowd that doesn't really want to hear UKIP's views on anything and is waiting for a chance to blitz him...

Meanwhile, Andy Burnham lists five points that he says will be his goal to ending the housing crisis in Greater Manchester...First point: "We've got to build more council and social housing in Greater Manchester and we will do that by re-focusing Greater Manchester Housing Fund"...Second point: "To help younger people we should build more rent to own houses so that younger people can have a legitimate expectation that they can own their own homes later in life"...

...Third point: "A scheme to regulate unscrupulous private landlords"...Fourth point:  "To re-write Greater Manchester Spatial Framework and balance it away from green sites towards revitalising town centres of Greater Manchester with higher density development."

And the fifth point? "I want to end rough sleeping in Greater Manchester by 2020...I will work with any organisation, any individual, who wants to contribute to that, to put some resources into it to make it a reality...I will show the right leadership on this issue and will donate 15% of my mayoral salary on an ongoing basis to create a new Mayor's Homelessness Fund..."

Cue wild applause, from the Labour Party members in the audience. He's followed by the LibDem's Jane Brophy, who has the weight of the previous ConDem Coalition Government hanging off every statement...

"We need affordable safe housing for all" she says "I want to scrap the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework because those plans don't actually deliver on affordable housing, they lead to urban sprawl and big expensive homes built on green belt land...

"...Homelessness is a complex problem" she adds "We need to look at what's causing homelessness, what's causing rough sleeping and make it a top priority. Unless we address wider social problems of health and wellbeing we're not going to make things better for people. It's not a one size fits all solution, it needs a multi faceted solution."

And then comes the Tory, Sean Anstee, who waffles about people feeling left behind, and that the controversial GM Housing Fund has "done what it was supposed to do, kickstart building on brownfield sites, getting urban sites developed...

"...We need affordable houses, of course we do, but we also need homes for people to be aspirational as well...we need a range of housing..."

'Shut up!' comes a cry from the audience to much laughter. Anstee is like a red rag to a bull – except that much of the Salford Labour Party's housing policy over the last decade has been itself focusing on 'aspirational housing' and bulldozing affordable housing. The hypocrisy isn't lost on the campaigning sections of the audience, as Burnham gets constantly heckled over his pledges...

Will Patterson picks up on the theme... "Councils have been asleep on this one, they've not been pushing for the affordable homes we need" he says "And it's no wonder that we have high ranking council officials saying 'We need social housing like we need holes in the head'."

"'Aspiration' isn't about some sort of middle class, 2.4 children dream" he explains "For some people it's just about having a house..."

After questions that don't get answered properly about the lack of legal aid for people living and being evicted from the streets, and about safeguarding homeless young people, there's more discontent in the audience...

The UKIP candidate is finally blitzed when he argues that the "priority for housing should be for people born and bred here"...To diffuse the slagging, the chair calls for a question from an asylum seeker who was provided with a house by Serco with 15 people living in it and shocking conditions...

Candidates are asked to commit to working with human rights organisation, RAPAR and the Gaskell Garden Project to stop housing companies violating such rights. As the Mayor hopefuls begin answering, the chair asks everyone in the hall to stand up if they or their families were immigrants. Over two thirds of people stand. Point made. And even the Tory agrees that 15 people in a house is "unacceptable".

Seizing the opportunity, people lay into Sean Anstee over his record of unaffordable housing and energy price hikes at Trafford Housing Trust, of which he is a director... "I wouldn't trust that Tory to put a tent in my back garden" shouts one person...

Anstee gets more grief when, following a question by Salford Anti-Bedroom Tax campaigner, Maria Brabiner, he is the only candidate not in favour of abolishing the hated Tax.

Meanwhile, a woman who is not part of any campaign stands up and asks the candidates what they class as 'affordable housing' because on her way in she'd seen an advertising hoarding, just around the corner from the venue, for a two bedroom house in one of Chapel Street's new developments... "I have a job and live at home but will never been able to afford that" she says "What is affordable?"...

Every single candidate blanks her completely. No-one answers, as they move onto other subjects. Not long after, she leaves the meeting. Indeed, as the evening wears on more and more people begin leaving...

...Andy Burnham constantly repeats his mantra on re-focusing the GM Housing Fund to council and social housing and his pledge to get rough sleepers off the streets by 2020; the Greens' Will Patterson promises to "wave a fist" at Westminster; the LibDem's Jane Brophy recounts yet more personal tales to show how she's in touch; the Tory says loads, very fast, but says nothing; and the UKIP bloke bleats to deaf ears.

Someone in the audience pipes up that he's heard enough rhetoric, that the Greater Manchester Mayor is just "a white elephant costing multi-million pounds...you have nothing to enforce any of these flowery statements you are making, it's just another job..."

Will Patterson admits that the whole Mayor thing is "a carve up, a travesty of democracy", with "limited powers"...and Andy Burnham says he "understands the cynicism in the room" before re-charging his 'PR blurb'... "If we let cynicism take over it won't amount to anything..." he adds.

After over two hours, the evening fizzles out to a half empty hall...


The Greater Manchester Mayor Election takes place on 4th May. A full list of candidates is due to be announced tomorrow...Update: Eight Mayor candidates announced - click here for details

For further details of what the GM Mayor can do and details on the election see the GMCA website – click here

For more details on local housing shockers see previous Salford Star articles...

Greater Manchester Sees Only 33 Affordable Rent Homes Secured Through Section 106 - click here

Fred Done's £22million Cheap Loan from GM Housing Fund - click here

Salford Lead member for Housing Wins Affordable Housing Hypocrisy Award - click here

The £42million Salford Planning Scandal - click here


Photos by Steven Speed

Citizen of the Costa del Salford wrote
at 05:33:18 on 05 April 2017
Did any of the panel condemn the behaviour of the Council treatment of homeless people ? I have seen Bambuser images of Council lackeys stealing homeless peoples' sleeping bags - how disgraceful is that ? Just think about it ! From a Labour Council ? The vote on May 4th should reflect the peoples' views - it is really our time to shine on the national stage, to show the world we are a progressive area on a global level
 
Ordsall Talent wrote
at 05:33:10 on 05 April 2017
Let's prove that we do things differently round here! The Green Party represent hope and change in this election! Bez and the Reality Party haven't got round to sorting a candidate so it's the Green Party all the way for me! What other political party organises raves ?
 
Give Green A Chance wrote
at 05:33:04 on 05 April 2017
The Green Partys' original Mayoral candidate Deyika was a very popular guy and would have made a great leader of the people, respect to Will Patterson for stepping in, the Green Party is pretty cool and are still the new kids on the political block, this could work in their favour
 
Dirty Out Of Towner wrote
at 05:32:33 on 05 April 2017
When I saw the headline "Andy Burnham Roasted" I thought that the "Paul McCartney of politics" had gone up in flames visiting the new Tory/Labour/Peel weirdo project, the Carrington Gas Terminal !
 
Buddha of Broughton wrote
at 05:32:19 on 05 April 2017
Salfordians, and people from the Greater Manchester area, should do as much research as possible on all the candidates, they should also examine their collective consciences regarding thinking about voting for the Conservatives (aka the Nasty Party), Fib Dems, Labour and UKIP
 
Real Salford Lad wrote
at 20:08:29 on 04 April 2017
I hope the people of Greater Manchester take a real good look at Andy Burnhams' voting record that includes voting for the Iraq War and numerous blocks of a proper investigation ! What did Andy Burnham know at the time ? Did AB believe there were WMD ? Can we really have a Mayor with ABs' voting record in Parliament ? Isn't Manchester supposed to be a City of Peace ? This Mayoral Election is a huge opportunity to Give Green A Chance and to vote NO to the "business as usual" "Northern Powerhouse" agenda
 
Tony wrote
at 13:38:52 on 04 April 2017
Andy can't answer for what Salford City Council has done surely!?
 
Alice wrote
at 13:38:48 on 04 April 2017
Thanks for that report. We can always rely on you for the picture. People sounded angry; rightly so. Andy Burnham was saying the most hopeful things but cynicism has to be overcome. Only possibilities to me seem to be Andy Burnhsm and Will Patterson. At least both say something based on justice and caring. The rest don't seem sure of anything other than party lines. Interesting that Salford Mayor got a tribute from Andy Burnhsm. I say 'get more courage and start saying no to the developers' Paul.
 
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