Saturday, 15 December 2012

Dear Mr Jones - A Residents Association letter on the success of HMR

(and why demoliton is important) 

Dear Mr. Jones, Having read your blog, I thought here is someone who has common sense and sees the real picture, who listens to residents opinions, much like our Councillor Alan Dean.

Let me tell you of our experience.

The Welsh streets in Liverpool 8 seems to have been the catalyst that started the interference by SAVE and Empty Homes Agency, as we have had various media coverage since 2005, when we have put our point about HMR to the public at large, only to have our side of the matter edited out of broadcasts and credence only given to the views of the Anti-demolition campaigners.

Since 2003 residents here had been working with the HMR pathfinders to bring about regeneration of this area. We had five vision events and other community meetings to consult with residents, as to how they wished the area to become a better place to live. After extensive consultation, residents of 11 streets voted for Demolition and New homes on the site. Even to the extent of attending a Town Hall meeting "en masse" to make their wishes known,which was then approved by the City Council, in 2005.

However,in 2005,because she had not attended any meetings, a Ms.Nina Edge ( an artist, who let rooms in her house to students) discovered that her house on Kelvin Grove was also scheduled for demolition in the plans. This was the start of the debacle of her campaign against demolition, together with a couple of other Kelvin Grove residents and tried to involve residents of the other 11 streets. She called her group "Welsh Streets Home Group" falsely intimating that they represented residents of ALL the Welsh Streets. Totally untrue, they DO NOT & HAVE NEVER represented other than Kelvin Grove residents., the other residents have been extremely angry at her audacity to try to tell them how they should think. She called the terraces "lovely Victorian workers cottages,showing the heritage of Liverpool" her property being a larger 3 storey house built, at the time, for gentry, despite the fact that English Heritage, on inspecting the terraces, stated they were "OF NO HERITAGE VALUE"

When her plan to get the backing of the community failed, she then solicited the help of SAVE and EHA to support her campaign, as well as seeking the support of people around the country, who did not even know the area, by publishing flawed information about the situation. What is even more anoying is the vociferous anti- demolition ranting by the likes of Jonathan Brown (Civic Society), William Palin ( formerly SAVE) and of course not forgetting David Ireland ( EHA). To me these are arrogant publicity seeking individuals who live in the past. I have had personal contact with Jonathan Brown and have corresponded with William Palin, both young men who should be looking to the future, in my opinion.

I have also sent letters to Shapps & Pickles, giving them the true facts , also to the Justice involved with the Judicial Review and am also sending the same to Mark Prisk. Not that they will take any notice.

I digress, I was giving you the facts surrounding the Welsh Streets.

I lived in one of those "workers cottages" in Powis Street for 68 years until 2007, bringing up four children there, so can speak with knowledge and conviction.

The 6 roomed terraces were built quickly & cheaply in 1881 WITHOUT FOUNDATIONS, single skin brick (unable to insulate), over collapsing Victorian drains, the water table being only about 3 inches below the surface, hence rising damp & subsidence being prevalent over many years. Homeowners spent vast sums trying to rectify problems, to no avail. In the 1970's, as we have constantly told the so called heritage "experts", these terraces were refurbished to give them a further 30 year life. Now well past. This however also failed to address the problems of damp & subsidence.

HMR was a ray of hope for those of us living in these conditions and in 2007 we sold by negotiation to the Council ( not forced out) and 106 of my neighbours & myself moved into newly built homes just round the corner from the Welsh Streets, still neighbours and still within the Community of Princes Park area.

There are still residents living in the remaining 4 Welsh Streets, who are angry that one woman has been allowed to cause so much delay to their plans for better living conditions and accessing of new energy efficient homes they had fought for, for so long. SAVE in particular have a lot to answer for.,to residents of all the areas they have targeted. SAVE even bought the last inhabited house, from the owner, in a street of boarded up houses " to stop the demolition" They then proceeded to publicise that in that same street Madryn Street, no 9 was Ringo Starr's birthplace, which added to the hype. I lived in the next street Powis St & knew him a a child and nobody in the neighbourhood gives a toss about him. The only people who make money from that house are the Tour guide Taxis, visitors do not buy from local shops or the Empress Pub, so local economy does not benefit.

When HMR started some of us residents, as volunteer Street Reps, were asked to form the "Welsh Streets Steering Group"to liase between residents & pathfinder body, distributing information to other residents, which we did. Ms Edge kept saying that she had a list of people wanting to move here and renovate houses but we were not privy to her list. I wonder where these people were 10 years ago when homeowners, who wanted to relocate, could not sell their properties,even for £10,000 ?

Had Ms Edge not interfered, new housing would have been built on the site long ago, but then the Coalition pulled the rug from under us by cancelling the programme. We are still determined to turn things around and plans are in the pipeline for new build on the site, after demolition hopefully. Those residents still living in substandard housing in the 4 streets keep asking me what is happening. Unfortunately we have no good news as yet and they are very frustrated.

We are also sick of this focus on refurbishment. These terraces would be expensive to bring up to Decent Home Standard, as first they would necessitate underpinning, which Ms.Edge had to have done to her Kelvin Grove property a couple of years ago, obviously it had some subsidence, so much for it being in good order.
Having tried going down the PROD route and an EIA courtesy of Eric Pickles, SAVE have now resorted to a Judicial Review, which will not only affect the Welsh Streets but all the other former Pathfinder areas. It is like talking to a brick wall trying to get them to realise they are trying to play God with peoples' lives.

As part of the plans, 16 houses in Madryn St and 10 in Kelvin Grove ( Ms Edge's included) are to be left standing, on the understanding that if no one comes forward to renovate them, within 2 years , they will revert to the Council for demolition. So far no takers.

Sorry to be so long winded but those idiots make me so mad.

P.S. The new houses we now live in, very happily, are not litttle boxes. ( 15ft Kitchen/Diner - 18ft Living room - Downstairs toilet - 3 Bedrooms ,one en suite and Family Bathroom, plus small front garden and back garden & designated parking space.) An estate of Mixed Tenure.

Mary Huxham MBE Secretary --WDC Tenants and Residents Association , Princes Park Ward

Dear Mr Jones,

Many thanks for your quick response to my e-mail.

I hope it may help to continue the fight, though as I said neither the heritage bods nor this Government want to listen to the people, they supposedly work for because of their arrogance in thinking they know best,living in their ivory towers instead of in the real world. Let us hope the judiciary throw out the SAVE appeal.

Thanks once again & good luck.

Mary Huxham MBE