Thursday, April 19, 2007

LibDems fiddle while Fairfield burns

If there is one issue in the ward (no, make that two, I can never put anything entirely ahead of the market), that really motivates me to be an active public representative it is the whole issue of the Prescot Road houses opposite the police club.

The endless delay and decay has rattled me for a long time, since before I was elected so about 15 months at least.

Two months ago I stupidly begged the council not to grant planning permission for a sign which said "Regeneration area here" type thingy, because they would be a humiliating laughing stock. Fancy me caring about that, I should have let them go ahead!

On Monday I sent an email to the Chief Executive of the Council, the City Solicitor, the great and the good and my co-councillors, demanding action and a response to my endless queries, questions and demands to do something about the blight, decay and delay that is the houses on the Prescot Road front, opposite the police club in Fairfield.

I have fought like a vixen for a resolution, despite four years of dithering by this council

I wrote threatening the council and C7 with legal action - by helping local people who still live in these blighted houses and want a resolution to find a solicitor who would take their case.

This morning I spent three hours in a meeting with the council and C7 and Kenny Regen and the MP Jane Kennedy where I went on and on about these houses and their neglect and our statutory failure in our duty of care.

Neither Cllr Invisible or his mate were there but nice Cllr Sidorczuk was and he will confirm that I spoke at length about this.

In particular I told the officers (all senior) that there was already a house burnt out last week and that I was worried about the rest

They didn’t even know about the fire, these people who are supposed to live their daily lives and earn their daily bread in this small neighbourhood area

I had to tell them which house and why they needed to secure and tidy up for the sake of the neighbours whose houses remained at risk. It was private house but neighbours a whole row of publicly owned ones.

Tonight, God help us, three more neighbouring houses went on fire. A private one was set on fire and the fire spread to neighbouring HA houses next door.

Tom McGuire told me that he had to call the security firm in to re-open the boarded up houses so that the fire fighters could get in to tackle the blaze because they had been so tightly fastened up. This only happened quite recently I think, as a result of my insistent demands that they properly secure properties and clean the yards and entries. A bit ironic in that the only house now vulnerable to arson was one in private hands and the fire spread to public ones that couldnt be accessed by the fire service for some time.

I think C7 are doing everything they can but are hide bound by the LibDem council who are laughingly managing these houses and the project. (There is no project, challenge them to show you something that has been put to me, there is nothing)

Jonathan Brown of Friends of Newsham Park has just rung me at 1.15am - that is how worried we all are, that he would even think I was awake - and that I was - to talk about the fire.

He says they will all be demolished by morning according to the fire service (not sure which houses, I think there is a block of about 4).

I think it is kids, he thinks local people will think it is much more cynical than that!!

(Entry edited on Friday morning as some aspects of the tale inevitably turned out to be inaccurate. There was no emergency rehousing, although there is one lady who will now need rehousing and C7 are working on finding her somewhere.)

Liverpool Echo story linked via clicking title of this post
Liverpool Daily Post story linked here

(I have not yet learnt how to do that in a more viewer friendly way, so that you click something that says "here" and off you go, please advise)


steve faragher said...

These houses were discussed at a Kensington Creative Edge meeting a few weeks ago at METAL, with the idea that some of the houses could used to develop a creative/artists quarter, the houses could be given (or sold for a £1) to a trust (THE CREATIVE EDGE TRUST??) who could then borrow money to develop teh houses, collect rent on them and service the loan. Source of funding well, what about the charity bank or the ecology building society.

If this was to happen I could guarantee brand spanking new refurbed houses in 12 to 15 months as opposed to the dangerous eyesore there now.

Alternatively and as a follow up to the now infamous "Flaoting Voter Challenge" if C7 want to sell me one for a nominal amount

I would be prepared to borrow the money from the aforementioned building society, and live in one.... call it "the squatting voter challenge" or has a deal sorted with Bellway (nudge nudge wink wink). Anyone else interested in buying one and doing it up and moving in let me know

Louise Baldock said...

Yes, I had put that idea to METAL in the first place, they told me they were looking for more artists' residences and centres and we focussed on Fairfield. I told them about my homesteading ideas, they were enthusiastic.

I suggested Colette phone Frank Doran and Tom McGuire to express some interest. I dont think she has had much of a response up to now.

Anonymous said...

Proposals were put forward for those houses but the proposals were nothing more than a blot on the landscape and a landgrab by the council's preferred developer. There is a distinct lack of imagination when it comes to redeveloping that area.
Sadly, the houses both on Prescot Rd and Prescot Drive are targets for vandalism but the cynical side arises because people have stated that they have witnessed "mysterious" vans pull up to the Prescot Drive ones and the occupants then start fires.
To think, when I was a kid we nearly moved into one of those on Prescot Rd!

Louise Baldock said...

I dont generally buy into conspiracy theories, I believe it was local kids. There have also been fires in the last week or so in Edge Grove and Gresham Street apparently, or so residents told me yesterday. And I have passed the names of a few youthful suspects to the police.

Either way, the fires are happening in derelict houses, usually privately owned, but that does not excuse this activity. It is all after all in a New Deal area, securing these houses and forcing improvement upon them should be a fundamental responsibility of the council, either personally or via HMRI or New Deal

JB said...

Whether it's a conspiracy or just a load of kids the outcome is the same - demolition by stealth and the ruination of public assets and local quality of life.

We were promised action within 6 weeks - 12 months ago! We've just heard the same glib line again from Cllr Doran.

Steve, have you formally written to the council with the METAL proposal? They will ignore it, but it will all go on the record for the day when the delaying tactics are held to account.