Friday, July 13, 2007

Housing, Housing, Housing (Homes, Homes, Homes)

Housing provision has always been my primary political concern.

I remember talking about it at the selection conference where they chose me as the Labour candidate for K&F back in November 2005. I believe that health, education, jobs etc are all an irrelevance if you dont have anywhere warm, safe and secure to live. It is a fundamental and essential primary need.

I also believe very strongly in what we are now encouraged to describe as "social" housing. A strange expression to use, really we mean "rented" from a not-for-profit landlord. Surely all housing should be social, we certainly dont want any anti-social housing.

Not everyone wants to buy a home, some people intend only a short stay in an area and for them renting is ideal, others dont feel comfortable with a long-term financial commitment. Some will never afford a home of their own, others like the idea of a landlord who will manage the repairs, I have rented before. I can see why at certain times it is the ideal answer.

Both sets of my grandparents lived all their lives in council houses and flats and they wouldn't have wanted it any other way, it suited them.

As a Labour Party member I want to support my leaders and agree with and support their policies but sometimes, inevitably, it is a bit difficult. However, when GB told us that housing was one of his top three priorities, something I have not heard in 20 years from any politicians of any parties, my heart soared.

I am personally of the view that there is a lot we can do to bring back derelict, empty or damaged existing homes into use, this will reduce the need to build so many brand new ones which, although I am not against the idea, does rather use up lots of land that we struggle to find in some places.

I think it is true that there are lots of brown field opportunities in Liverpool and we won't necessarily find ourselves having to build swathes of new homes on the green belt between us and Warrington or Southport, but it is also true that we have houses already built that need redeveloping, not knocking down.

I dont know if you ever find your way onto Ullet Road or Princes Park Avenue. There is a block of flats there, I cannot recall the name of the road exactly at that point, but it is opposite Sefton Park Drive. A multi-storey block of flats, unattractive and poorly designed. It is in the process of being refurbished and upgraded and will become much more desirable. We have seen the disasters of high rises before, usually they get knocked down, this is a scheme, that for someone who only drives by and knows nothing of the finances, at least at face value looks really good. I am happy with bringing unwanted homes back into use.

Councillor Alan Dean showed me some figures last week where there are families in his area waiting for four, five and six bedroom properties. How dreadfully ironic it is then that we are planning on demolishing just such houses in Kensington because there is apparently "no call" for such large homes.

Says who?

Let's do up just one of the houses and monitor the list of people who are interested in either buying or renting it, before trashing the lot. I think the nay sayers would be pleasantly surprised by the take-up. Alan says that his families, at least 40 I think he says, would like to be near a suitable church, fancy that, we have at least two of those nearby that are empty and aching for someone to do them up too!

This new focus on housing gives us a great opportunity to call for renewal and regeneration of existing homes, even as we acknowledge that in some cases, usually of long term neglect by owners, the demolition of some homes is beyond redemption.

What say you?


JB said...

I say the most neglectful owner in Liverpool is the cartel of local authority and subsidised 'social landlord' vested interests.

Prescot Road is only one example of their negligence.

Your colleague Alan Dean is right on one count - the waiting list is worsening and becoming all but interminable for larger than average households. Only 1% of council stock is 4 beds or above.

So why is he supporting the demolition programme in Kelvin Grove and elsewhere in the Pathfinder, where 5/6 bedroom townhouses are being boarded up for bulldozing?

Liverpool Labour need to find a more consistent line on housing, instead of defending the Lib-Dems wrecking-ball regeneration policies.

JB said...

Great programme on Dispatches re. Housing - you can download from below (there is a clip that starts off with Jamie Oliver!).

This from Housing News:


Dear Housing News,

Having seen the Bad Housing programme, I am feeling particularly frustrated that the government's Pathfinder programmes seem to be doing the reverse of what they should be doing- supporting communities in terms of improving the existing stock.

Why have we not learned what we should have from wholesale clearances in the 60's and 70's that did so much to damage to communities?

I have an MA in Urban Regereration and am aghast at what is going on in the North. It would seem that the undemocratic Pathfinder bodies are simply not listening to the communities they claim to serve. Not only are perfectly good dwellings being destroyed but huge resources are being wasted when there is a shortage of new housing and funds would be better directed to fulfilling that pressing need.

Why if housing is defective aren't grants offered for repair and renewal - General Improvements Areas were a pretty effective model that is capable of further refinement - I worked in one in the late 1970's so have had first hand experience.

Grants should be offered to encouage residents of poorer areas to improve defective elements in their homes and to install energy efficiency measures like improved insulation and CH boilers.


Stephen Conrad MA MRICS, General Practice chartered surveyor

Coombe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Coombe said...


I am a member from london,i am vice chair of a constituency in london.At present i am spending a lot of time in liverpool due to work.
I would like to get involved in helping with the by-election coming up.Can some give me details of the organiser or the person in charge of the campaign


dr anwar ansari

Louise Baldock said...

Hi Anwar, we would love to see you. Email me at louise.baldock at