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MANCHESTER SALFORD PATHFINDER PUBLIC INQUIRY
 

Star date: 17th March 2011

SALFORD STAR PATHFINDER REPORT
Part 2

KEEPING DEVELOPERS IN PROFITS

Over half a billion pounds worth of public money has been sunk into Pathfinder housing programmes in Manchester and Salford. For every £1 private developers put into new housing schemes, the public sector puts in £6. Yet the developers keep virtually all the profits.

Meanwhile, Salfordians whose homes have been taken off them to make way for the Pathfinder bulldozers have financially lost out.  The Salford Star is now calling for a Public Inquiry.

Click here for more details…


SALFORD STAR CALLS FOR PATHFINDER PUBLIC INQUIRY PART 2

Please read Part 1 by clicking here


WHAT IS HOUSING MARKET RENEWAL OR THE MANCHESTER SALFORD PATHFINDER?

In Salford, the Pathfinder covered the whole of Central Salford within a few miles radius of Manchester – Broughton, Kersal, Ordsall, Langworthy, Seedley and the area defined as Irwell Riverside.

Pathfinder was a Government project started in 2003 with a vision to "create a mixed housing offer with a range of types, values and tenures that will meet the aspirations of both new and existing residents". In other words, the vision was to bulldoze loads of existing, affordable houses, and build new expensive ones for Manchester commuters without pissing off the people already living in those areas.

The Pathfinder financed schemes include Countryside Properties `New Broughton'; Broughton Green in Higher Broughton; the Urban Splash `upside down houses' in Chimney Pot Park; LPC Living in Ordsall, and Miller Homes' Unity Quarter in Kersal.

WHY THE SALFORD STAR IS CALLING FOR A PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO SALFORD PATHFINDER…

For five years the Salford Star has been trying to get its head around what Housing Market Renewal (HMR), or Pathfinder, has been up to in Salford. How much money has been spent, what that money has been spent on and whether the community has benefitted from it or not. Simple questions. But it's been impossible to get answers.

So impossible that, a few years ago, when we actually asked the head of housing in Salford how much public money had been spent and where it was going, he admitted that he himself didn't know… "It's very complicated" he said.

Hello, this is the Head of Housing in Salford! In 2009 we gave him his very own Mary Burns Award (see here).

There has been no transparency around the Pathfinder programme at all. Until we shamed the Manchester and Salford Pathfinder team they didn't even have a website. And when they finally did put one up at the insistence of the Audit Commission, it was never updated without a kick. Even now, the last News Item is from November 2009 (see here). There's not even a News Item about the Pathfinder closing down at the end of March. Not very good practice from an `integrated secretariat' that in one year alone was paid almost £750,000.

Whenever we've tried to find out how much public money has been given to developers it's been hidden under the cloak of `commercial confidentiality'. We still don't even know the exact amount of Pathfinder public money that's been poured into Salford, never mind where the hell it's all gone. It's been two years since any kind of annual financial report was produced.

Even within these out of date figures it's impossible to extract what's been happening in Salford because the Manchester Salford Pathfinder lumps all the figures for the two cities together – except where the powers that be choose to give specific examples for specific areas.

Yet we're talking about £354.13million in Pathfinder public money, plus another £156.74million in other public funding. That's over half a billion quid's worth of public money for the two cities.

What we have got is a report produced last week by the Audit Commission which gives some figures and statistics that make shocking reading.

• For every £1 that private developers put into Pathfinder housing schemes in Manchester and Salford the public sector puts in almost £6.

• For that, the public sector clears the community out, bulldozes the houses, clears the land ready for building and hands developers what is called `gap funding', which no-one seems to be able to explain.

• The developer builds the houses and if they sell, keeps almost all the profits. The Audit Commission report states that "the HMR programme has so far generated capital receipts of £1.83million". This is for the whole of the Manchester and Salford! 3807 new houses have been built. That's less than £500 per house that has been handed back from developer's profits.

• To help people buy the new expensive houses a whole range of public subsidies have been introduced, including First Time Buyer Initiative, Home Buy Direct and Shared Equity. 40% of new properties bought in a Pathfinder sample of 1,379 were purchased via one of these schemes. But even though house prices have dropped, the Salford Star has evidence to show that people have been paying original top prices within these schemes. Top prices mean top profits for developers, subsidised, again, with public money.

• Even with all these subsidised schemes in place, when properties in the new developments haven't sold, the developers have just downed tools and stopped building until they've been bailed out with more public money via the Government's Kickstart scheme. Countryside Properties, for instance, was sweetened with £8million for its New Broughton development.

• The Government has also bailed these schemes out by buying unsold properties, via grants for social housing companies (which wasn't the aim of Pathfinder), again ensuring developers don't lose out.

• Many people from communities cleared out of the Pathfinder areas in Salford have lost out financially, while the developers have been supported through thick and thin. A Land Tribunal found that Jimmy Griffiths' house, which was compulsorily purchased by Salford Council in Higher Broughton, had been undervalued by 42%. Last year, the Land Tribunal also awarded Jimmy's brother, Guy Griffiths, a figure that was 55% higher than Salford Council's original offer for his house. The judge said it "raises serious questions over the Council's valuation".

• Many people who owned their own houses in Salford and had them compulsorily purchased and bulldozed by Salford Council could only afford a new house in the same area with some form of shared equity scheme. Whereas previously they owned 100% of their home, now they only own 30%-50% of it.

• In Manchester and Salford, Pathfinder spent 49% of its budget on demolitions, acquisitions and site preparation for developers. It spent a further 17% on improving existing houses and 13% on `environmental improvements'. Which would leave 21%, or £70.8million, for its own costs, and grants for private developers. This excludes extra Government grants and payments from Manchester and Salford Council.

• The Audit Commission report provides figures for Lower and Higher Broughton which show that a total of £76.5million of HMR and public money has been pumped into schemes resulting in 933 new houses This works out at a public cost of around £70,000 for every new house built.*

The only conclusion that Salford Star can reach, based on these figures, is that the whole Pathfinder programme has been a free for all for developers that's been shrouded in secrecy and unaccountability. This is one of the reasons why we are calling for a Public Inquiry.

In the next article we will be looking at the benefits, if any, for Salford's existing community… READ PART 3 HERE

READ PART 4 HERE

READ PART 5 HERE

READ CONCLUSION PART 6 HERE

 


* The £76.5million figure includes 592 houses that have had external improvements. Given that 17% of the costs are for improvement, we've deducted this and divided by 933, giving around £70,000 per house.

 

 

 


 

G.Griffiths wrote
at 16:44:45 on 20 March 2011
To give you an idea of how long this has been going on (pre pathfinder), I remember the advertiser running an article about plans for a youth club at Singleton hall. The person they had down for the photo was the boxer Steve Foster. No not Steve Foster junior, but Steve "The Viking" Foster! The regeneration in Higher Broughton has achieved very little. Newbury place and the house that Jack built are a wasteland. The Former Hanover court site is a wasteland. Broughton Green is still not fully sold despite about 40 properties being sold cheaply to Agudas Israel housing association. It is a Jewish Ghetto. There are no figures about the number of people from the streets that were demolished living on there because non of them actually moved there. They were told that they were not for them ( I have a letter to prove it from Terry Mcbride).No developers are interested in building where the "Top Streets" still stand but a few chancers have wanted to renovate now that the residents have been cleansed from their homes. Gainsborough Street area has had nearly £4,000,000 thrown at it despite over 85% of sales in the area in the last 10 years being to private landlords. It will resume it,s decline as soon as the current works stop. The community hub and playing field will finally open 5 years behind schedule. AND THIS CREWE RECKON THEY DID THE FORMER HOMEOWNERS A FAVOUR?
 
Red Dave wrote
at 06:03:57 on 19 March 2011
This pathetic waster clowncil just won't be satisfied until they have destroyed old Salford .Why not just re-name this sad dump Hellhole City .This council , and its grossly overpaid 'executives' are not worth paying in turds.
 
G.Griffiths wrote
at 10:24:44 on 18 March 2011
When the council got involved in the area in late 1994/early 1995 there was 1 long term empty house in the area out of 420. Problems had just started when some of the problem families moved over here while work was being done in Cheetham, where they had moved from. The problems were the antisocial ones, not the houses. The councils answer was to use SRB (single regeneration budget) money and tarmac 3 entry,s, narrow a couple of streets and plant some trees! They had a neighbourhood coordinator (Keith Smithies)who hung around for 7 years. When he came we had a decent area that had just started to slide because of the antisocial elements. When he left, the whole area had gone. The £250,000 SRB was phased over 5 years over 420 houses. In the first couple of years, £78,000 of this money had been used to pay for his assistants. They were a load of digestive dunking tossers who held coffee mornings as part of ". They spoke to a couple they considered to be the RESIDENTS GROUP even though the group had long since given up because of inaction. This couple f--ked off faster than a certain footballer did when he found out Jordan was pregnant,as soon as the council finally announced that they wanted to buy houses in the area.This was despite the fact that they has moved into a big renovated house about 1 year earlier and had been campaigning for the promised play area. All this was pre pathfinder. The audit commission seems to have recognized in it,s most recent report ( about the nearby Gainsborough street area) that these early plans not being carried out CAUSED people to flee the area. I have had to put up with these knowall tossers for over 16 years. Smithies got another digestive dunking regeneration job,Seaton and Osborne retired. Alao (the token ethnic---a tactic used by the council so anyone who disagrees is seen as racist!)is involved in regeneration in Blackpool and still sits in with Salix. Siobahn Mccoy is involved in Liverpool regeneration. Most of the others, Wooderson,Vince,Mawson etc are still with Salford. I wonder whether this lot have this regeneration on their CV? Tell you what Google earth M7 4AU or AS or AT and look at it. SCORCHED EARTH
 
Stephen Kingston wrote
at 08:39:31 on 18 March 2011
John...You promised to get back with the answers from that interview which you chose not to do, apart from saying you're not telling us. That's no use. Just answer the questions!
 
John Merry wrote
at 08:35:43 on 18 March 2011
Steve you did an interview with me on these subjects which you have chosen not to publish my recollection is that I dealt with these subjects. If you wish to bar people from posting that is your right but please do not claim the absence of bias
 
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 20:45:15 on 17 March 2011
There is no doubt that a public inquiry is essential. If all has been above board & there is nothing to hide why are reasonable questions not answered. There are only two posible conclusions. One is that 'something is rotten in the stae of Denmark'. The other is that our so called leaders think we are too stupid to understand what is going on. I make no allegations before the 'L' word is used.
 
Lynch mob! wrote
at 14:58:20 on 17 March 2011
Well said Stephen. Lets get a lynch mob together (Not a literal one unless democratically voted for by the people who have lost their homes ) and sort them out.
 
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