TRAPPED IN THE DEMOLITION ZONE OF SALFORD
"It feels like I'm being victimised for being outspoken"
THE BACKGROUND: OCTOBER 2009
Last year an old lady living as the only resident in a street full of tinned up houses in the Top Streets area of Higher Broughton applied to Salford Council for a £25,000 relocation grant to move outside of Salford.
Even though discretionary (the Government says they can be given to move anywhere in Engalnd and Wales), Salford Council will only give these grants to people whose houses the Council wants to demolish, provided they move to another property within Central Salford. For this lady, Salford Council made an exception – and in so doing admitted the horrendous conditions that the residents were living under…
"As the only remaining resident in the block, she is living in very poor and isolated conditions and has already been the victim of anti-social behaviour on a number of occasions" the Council stated "…recent events have taken their toll on her well-being leading to her being treated by her GP for anxiety…"
It continued: "Enabling this resident to move out of her property within a relatively short time timescale will minimise the risk of further injury to her physical and mental well-being."
Salford Council was about to take forced ownership of the lady's house, through a `General Vesting Declaration', or GVD, so that it could be demolished. The Council would then have been responsible for her well being – and didn't want a potentially tragic case on its hands…
The report stated that after the GVD had been served, "the Council will then owe this resident a duty of care should she suffer injury as a result of vandalism/arson etc…Enabling her to move to a safer and more secure environment relatively quickly will reduce this risk."
The £25,000 relocation grant to move out of Salford was granted (see here for full story)
FAST FORWARD TO NOVEMBER 2010: ATTIC ATTACK!
What Salford Council feared would happen to the old lady did actually happen to another resident who lived just around the corner from where she had lived in the demolition hell of the Top Streets.
Last month (see here) the Salford Star reported how thieves had hammered their way through the attics of six empty properties to get to the only occupied house on the street. The resident was horrified to see a hand coming out of his attic panel but managed to rebuff the would-be assailant with a broom handle.
He had complained to Salford Council on numerous occasions about his vulnerability, reminded councillors of their `duty of care' to residents whose houses they now owned, and asked them to properly secure such properties.
This resident had also applied for the £25,000 relocation grant to move out of Salford because of the stress, vandalism, isolated conditions and `risk to his physical and mental well being'. Only in his case Salford Council's reaction was very different – it's going to call out the Sheriff to forcibly evict him!
In his decision to refuse the relocation grant, Councillor Peter Connor, Lead Member for Housing, admitted "the ongoing risks associated with the continued occupation of the property which the resident has highlighted" and that "the property remains vulnerable to vandalism from the adjoining empty property".
The resident was even more horrified than his attic attack to read that Salford Council is to "institute legal proceedings to secure the issuing of a Sheriff's Warrant for possession of the property", adding that "the Council considers it is in the best interest of the resident to relocate" and "eviction may become necessary".
The £25,000 relocation grant to move out of Salford was not granted.
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE OLD LADY AND THIS RESIDENT!
This resident's name is Guy Griffiths who has criticised Salford Council's regeneration plans for Higher Broughton over the past ten years.
He and his brother Jimmy were the first people in the country to be forcibly evicted from their homes under the Government's notorious Pathfinder programme when the Council demolished houses in the Bottom Streets of Higher Broughton five years ago (see here and here).
Jimmy has since taken Salford Council to a Land Tribunal which found that the Council had undervalued his home by over 40% (see here). Guy Griffiths isn't frightened of telling the world what is going on behind Salford Council's glossing of the Higher Broughton regeneration failure.
"It feels like I'm being victimised for being outspoken" says Guy "It looks like a case of `Shut the f*ck up or we will evict you!'"
Guy is still living in the property, now owned by the Council, because there are still outstanding matters to sort out regarding compensation and valuations. He's also still there because three other residents have taken out a High Court injunction against Salford Council to stop it demolishing their homes, after originally agreeing to renovate them (see here).
"I am waiting to find out whether the Compulsory Purchase Order under which Salford Council seized people's homes will be found to be illegal, and if the Council has taken people's homes off them by an illegal act" Guy explains "If this is the case then I expect that everybody in the Top Streets would have a legal claim for the reinstatement of their former houses or substantial damages.
"I think that this why the injunction may be successful" he adds "because it will be cheaper to renovate 23 homes than to pay compensation or damages to over 200 home owners."
Meanwhile, Salford Council's `duty of care' to Guy Griffiths seems to be to call out the Sheriff to evict him.
"I'm proud to have been born in Salford" he says "But I'm ashamed of what this city has become."
In Salford Council's official decision to evict Guy Griffiths, it states that it risks "the City Council's action being criticised in the media"…
Salford Council – welcome to your first criticism.