Star date: 15th March 2011 


"Lower Broughton might look good on paper but after three years of living here it just isn't like that. To this day I can't understand why they took my house off me and gave me this rubbish" New Broughton resident.

Half finished and half cocked, the Housing Market Renewal programme, or Pathfinder, finally wraps up at the end of March, having spent over £354million on housing in Manchester and Salford since 2003. 

Last week, the Audit Commission positively reviewed the Pathfinder in a report which we believe is full of half truths and misconceptions.

Today, the Salford Star calls for a public inquiry into the Pathfinder project that many people believe has ripped the heart out of Central Salford.

Full story here…

Take a look at these Pathfinder figures: Higher Broughton and Lower Broughton combined public spending totals £76,506,979. For that, 1250 houses have been demolished and 933 new houses have been built, many of them unaffordable for people who lived in the old houses.

In Higher Broughton three residents have a High Court injunction to stop Salford Council demolishing their homes when it stated it was to refurbish properties.

In Higher Broughton, residents whose homes were bought and demolished by Salford City Council were consistently paid less than their houses were worth.

In Lower Broughton, a door to door survey by the New Broughton Residents Association found that 62% of people moved from their demolished homes to  new properties in Phase 1 thought that they were worse off than before.

In Lower Broughton, so far, 516 new homes have been built – but only 150 existing residents have moved into them.

In Lower Broughton there were supposed to have been 3,500 new houses built over a ten to 15 year period from 2004. Now even the Audit Commission admits that "There are significant concerns for the future phases of the development" and "In particular there is a danger of significant areas of cleared land being left with little prospect of development."

In Langworthy and Seedley the Audit Commission notes that the money's run out…and, "The early ending of this investment could undermine confidence both among residents and potential private investors". 

Anyone who has taken a walk through the knee rails and crofts of Langworthy, Seedley, Higher or Lower Broughton might well ask `What resident confidence?'

On the housing front, the Pathfinder project failed to understand that private developers will only keep building while their profits are high. And that once you stop stuffing them with public money to keep those profits high they'll down tools. Or maybe Pathfinder did understand – because a few years ago the Salford Star showed how the Manchester and Salford Pathfinder Board was absolutely stuffed with vested interests.

Meanwhile, despite almost £38,000,000 of public money being poured into Lower Broughton alone, unemployment and worklessness have shot up, domestic burglaries have increased and house prices have all but collapsed.

Pathfinder was a horrible experiment that has gone drastically wrong, built on the stupid premise that you can somehow regenerate a city by building posh houses without any jobs to go with them.

The Audit Commission's Director of Housing, Roy Irwin, told the Salford Star that "You couldn't build an economy on house building – it would never work…This was a housing market first, economy second, issue…I think they've made some progress but you can't build houses as a way of regenerating the economy. You can only make the place feel better."

Does Central Salford `feel better'? There were demolitions. There was house building. But where was the investment in jobs?

We'll be examining the Audit Commission report in great detail over the next few days and explain why the Salford Star is calling for a proper Public Inquiry into the whole unaccountable, inexplicable Pathfinder mess.

See Part 2: Click here






G,Griffiths wrote
at 6:04:45 AM on Monday, March 28, 2011
Maybe John Merry or one of the regeneration officers could get in touch with some of the people who have been involved over the years and ask them for comments? I suggest Bob Osborne,former neighbourhood coordinator Keith Smithies, Ade Alao and Siobahn McCoy. I think Osborn has retied now but the other three are still working in "Regeneration" in other parts of the country.I wonder if they would say that "THIS" regeneration has worked out like they hoped? All it will say or their cv is "worked on hte award winning Broughton Green project". Come on Salford---get in touch with them and ask them to comment
Stephen Kingston wrote
at 1:50:07 AM on Sunday, March 20, 2011
See John Merry's comments below... Oh was that Jill Baker's industrial tribunal? You should have quoted the Salford Star. We called for her resignation about a million years before she was finally pushed - er, and John Warmisham, but he's still there. And didn't we say that yourself and Barbara Spicer should go too as you were ultimately responsible for Salford Children's Services? But you're all still there too. Never mind. We have yet another Children's Services story going up as soon as we can find time. But in the meantime, we don't want to ban you - we just want answers to questions - three times I've personally asked for Higher Broughton details and the cloak of confidentiality has been used. We'll see what this week brings...
Davey Boy wrote
at 1:36:53 AM on Sunday, March 20, 2011
The problem is that if we ban Merry from his garbage - spouting in the Stsr , the bullshit will just continue in the Jolly Salford Rag.
Jonathan Goldberg. wrote
at 4:32:18 PM on Saturday, March 19, 2011
I should be dismayed at betrayed workers comments but i feel he is so right. I was at a buisness seminar on Thursday when some chap asked the Conservative Minister for small businesses about the NWDAs destruction of a small family run business through corrupt practices (his words ,not mine). The minister wouldnt answer the question and when the gentleman wouldnt take no for an answer (and he was polite in his questioning) the minister signalled for the mike to be cut off. The Minister was Mark Prisk and although the questioning was uncomfortable he wouldnt be drawn. So much for the big society and us being in this together. I also feel Mr Merry shouldnt be censored and having a feel for the Star I think it is more frustration than anything, a frustration we should all understand.
Liza Radley. wrote
at 3:43:35 PM on Saturday, March 19, 2011
I sometimes feel sorry for Mr Merry, does he actually receive public money as leader or is it just expenses, to me thats crucial. Also i was very perturbed by his reaction to the racist text affair, he went down in my opinion when he appeared to defend some fellow board member while at the same time agreeing with his deputy that 2 Salford police officers got what they deserved when they were sacked for doing the same thing. To me thats when integrity goes out the window.
John Merry wrote
at 2:25:35 PM on Saturday, March 19, 2011
Actually I have some sympathy with you on that one . I think you were asking for details of the restructuring. I have been at an Employment Triburnal all week but I will investigate on Monday
John Merry wrote
at 2:25:14 PM on Saturday, March 19, 2011
But think of the propaganda coup StephenK fan. Perhaps I could have a t shirt made ."I was gagged by Salford Star" I am not going to lose sleep if Steve does censor me and far from creating uncertainty it will simply reinforce others beliefs that the Star is only interested in one side of the story. I have tried to answer questions to the best of my ability and in the final analysis I can answer elsewhere. It would be a pity though because I would miss the discussion
Betrayed worker wrote
at 2:24:52 PM on Saturday, March 19, 2011
The truth is that ALL politicians ,at both local and national level are just in the grubby, corrupt game of politics to enrich themselves .None of them have a clue how ordinary working people have to live in this dreadful dump.Extortionate utility bills , illegal taxes extorted from us , greed , corruption , a taxpayer - funded cesspit to wallow in .Where are the jobs ?Where is the future ?When people have nothing left they fight back against the corruption and greed of ALL politicians.WE NEED REVOLUTON NOW AND A NEW SOCIETY OF WORKERS RULE.
Stephen Kingston wrote
at 6:25:12 AM on Saturday, March 19, 2011
See John Merry's comment below... Sorry, but what is the legitimate reason for keeping a regeneration company in Higher Broughton, financed with public money, confidential? It's not for `legitimate reasons' it's because you don't want anyone to know about the mess that's going on up there, surely? If it's not a mess then there's nothing to hide...
John Merry wrote
at 6:19:48 AM on Saturday, March 19, 2011
Ban me if you wish but don't go elsewhere and complain about censorship. Davey Boy I demand you answer all questions and don't just post selectively. The reality is that you and I could not do that. In some cases the information demanded by Stephen is confidential for legitimate reasons. In other cases I will not negotiate with individuals on this site but will discuss it with them privately. You after all would not want every personal detail on this site. The reality is that if you expect me to answer EVERY criticism on this site you are setting me an impossible task . I will attempt to answer what I can in the time available.
Stephen K fan! wrote
at 6:19:05 AM on Saturday, March 19, 2011
Brilliant Stephen. If you stop printing everything that Merry writes you will put a bit of uncertainty into his life. Give him a taste of how we feel. Will they answer our questions or not? How long before we get a response. With a bit of luck Salford,s answer to Elmer Fudd will sod off back to twit--.
Davey Boy wrote
at 1:04:48 AM on Saturday, March 19, 2011
Agreed Stephen.If Cllr Merry cannot answer ALL legitimate questions , then there is no point in his commenting at all .We all get enough 'feelgood factor' from the atrocious Life? in Salford useless rag . If people really believed the garbage printed in the LIS , we would all be living in Utopia.PLEASE ANSWER THE QUESTIONS , CLLR MERRY .
Stephen Kingston wrote
at 11:14:17 PM on Thursday, March 17, 2011
See John Merry's comment below... It's amazing how you have time to comment on points raised on this website but don't have the time or inclination to answer legitimate Salford Star questions about Higher Broughton. As editor, I'm considering banning you from here until we get some proper answers.What do people think? It seems to me that Mr Merry picks and chooses what he comments on to look reasonable, while ignoring potentially embarrassing subjects. No comments at all about Pathfinder. No questions being answered about Higher Broughton. Or Urban Splash. Or Greengate.
John Merry wrote
at 11:03:56 PM on Thursday, March 17, 2011
We were challenged over the jobs created during construction and identified 1500 people living in Salford who worked on Media City. Lets see what happens to creative and media jobs in Salford over the next few years. It's not just media city look at the Chapel St area and the small businesses setting up there or the Northbank Estate in Irlam or the proposals for Port Salford. Which of these do you not define as real jobs. More to the point what do you define as real jobs
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 3:44:02 PM on Thursday, March 17, 2011
Thousnads of jobs? Where is the evidence for this? It seems to me that you have put a whole lot of money into a one armed bandit & are hoping for a jackpot. Media City will become an enitity in itself seperate & removed from the rest of Salford. I really do think you are being far too optimistic about the whole project. I have lived in Salford all my life & had to watch the city decay & the people lose hope while over recent years huge amounts of public money has been given away to developers. Maybe with half a billion quid we might have attracted some real jobs & then perhaps built some decent housing. The type of housing that was demolished unecasserily to make way for the shoe boxes you have pushed people in Salford into.
UoS wrote
at 4:53:01 AM on Thursday, March 17, 2011
@Mr John Merry - have you even investigated recruitment patterns within the BBC? Certainly at the graduate level there is absolutely no concentration of recruitment around geographical pools and the most recent data available shows that only four people of the graduate intake even came from the University of Salford (and, of course, there is no way of determining from this data how many of those Salford graduates originated from Salford in the first place). If you cut out the graduate recruitment stream (which generally leads to the most upwardly mobile jobs), what is left? If you consider the admission of the MediaCityUK 'partners' that around 80% of the jobs created will actually go to staff who relocate from elsewhere, 'cui bono'? Who benefits? It would be a strange logic that concluded that the BBC/ITV shift to Salford Quays was bad for the City, but to the outside observer it looks as if you are placing all of your hopes in a single basket, betting the entire future prosperity of a once proud working class town on the profit-greedy whims of an insatiable corporate entity (Peel Holdings). I realise your situation must to you feel somewhat precarious; that a low-skills, high-unemployment and high-crime City seldom makes an attractive investment opportunity for the business savvy; but if you retreat into a unilateral policy centred on Media City, I expect history may not look upon you kindly for it. Best of luck to you, for I'd imagine few would want such burdens.
Ed wrote
at 4:51:45 AM on Thursday, March 17, 2011
Re-Merry's comment. Oh well, I suppose all the people who have been forced out of their homes, ripped off, and some made to live in homes that are inferior to their previous homes is a fair price to pay huh?... Well it seems it is if you live in John Merry's world and his vision of a modern Salford!
John Merry wrote
at 1:53:28 PM on Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Nachtslepper I will repeat my reply very slowly. There are no big employers out there who want to open a traditional factory providing traditional jobs for Salfordians. There is no reason why the thousands of jobs the BBC will bring on the other hand will not go to people from Salford. Penandsword if we had not taken steps to create new houses and increase the population of this city then I would have lost sleep. Of course we could have taken the safe option and just managed the decline. We chose a path that has led to the first increase of population since the 1930s and has led as of 12 months ago to an increase in revenue to the council of some eight million a year that's money for the benefit of everyone. Of course the economic downturn has not helped but I am hopeful that there will be resources to finish the job. Your remarks about "soft corruption" I will treat with the contempt they deserve
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 10:29:58 AM on Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Same old stuff. Does anybody at the funhouse have any idea of what this city needs. I'll write this very slowly in case somebody from the Council does read it. THE CITY NEEDS JOBS. New, inaedeqaute, substandard housing is not the solution. Do something to attract large scale employers the like of which we had in the past. And in the name of sanity stop throwing public money at private developers who are only interested in what they can make out of it.
G.Griffiths wrote
at 10:29:36 AM on Wednesday, March 16, 2011
While I agree it is some form of social and economic cleansing,the government says that a relocation grant of £25,000 can be given to enable you to move anywhere in England and Wales. Salford council have taken the decision that it can only be given to enable you to move to another property in central Salford (not even Swinton where the civic centre is!).I believe this is so they can boast to the government how many people have stayed in the locality. People cannot afford to lose the £25,000 so stay local. I have seen first hand the collateral damage to peoples health and am suffering myself. The scheme makes people pay 3 times. (1) They are seriously underpaid for their property. (2) They end up paying an inflated market price for a replacement property, either new or refurbished. (3) they are paying the wages of the council morons involved in these schemes through council tax. Where somebody owned their home, they are reduced to part ownership. And this lot are socialists?
at 10:28:44 AM on Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Great article from one of the few publications that has had the nerve and the staying power to stick with this issue through the years. Pathfinder is nothing less than a monument to the deceit, 'soft corruption' and sheer incompetence of New Labour and their town hall lackies. 'Soft'Corruption because we cannot trace brown envelopes, villas abroad and rolexes left down the back of the civic upholstery. Vested interests have obviously become a lot smarter since the days of Poulson and Peachey.But do you think we are so gullible to believe that nods and winks have not taken place on all the boards, steering groups and panels that have overseen this debacle. Councils allowed themselves to be convinced that their dreams of shiny new utopias could only be achieved by being coalesced with an alliance of shrewd greedy developers who milked public money for private profit and did not even have the grace to deliver the finished product. Dear Cllr Merry, there are two meanings for utopia one is a good, ideal place the other is 'no place' observing the pathfinder areas you have achieved the latter not the former. Your rotten legacy is a Salford that has huge empty spaces and no people in them where once there were communities ie 'no place'. The only success is the huge coporate camp on the dockside which is like an outpost of Global Corporatism and offers little to the ordinary Salfordian.I laughed when i first heard the term Social cleansing a term too extreme surely? 3 months back in Salford taught me the term was indeed apt. How do you sleep? You destroyed 100 year-old communities, you cheated people of the correct level of financial compensation for the homes they did not want to leave and you squandered public money on Pathfinder and all its appendages that could have been better off in the pockets of Salford people or spent on projects that they deserve, you are nothing more than bureaucratic pimps in grey suits who have procured yourselves and our city to the slick spiv developers.
Patrick KAvanagh wrote
at 3:00:58 AM on Wednesday, March 16, 2011
The Pathfinder programme is essentially a large scale social cleansing project which was designed to clear the remaining working class population from inner city areas. It is also responsible for human rights violations, and massive collateral damage, as far as mental health, personal health is concerned. It is built on stolen land,
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