Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Prescot Road and Prescot Drive steering group update

A very emotive meeting this afternoon.

After several years of delay since first the issue of these houses were raised - Councillor Warren Bradley called it 2 years, Councillor Steve Radford called it 27 years, we have had a meeting to discuss further progress with the Prescot Road and Prescot Drive Houses in Fairfield.

Local readers will be only too familiar with the terrible situation here but for the benefit of my national and international readers, these houses have been neglected and left to fall down and be burnt down by Liverpool City Council who identified the area as suitable for redevelopment some 7 years ago but have so far failed to come up with a plan. Living in the midst of this wanton dereliction are some 1o home owners who cannot sell their houses on the open market due to the uncertainty and which the council is even now not ready to commit to purchasing from them. Some of the individual cases are truly heartbreaking but I dont want to go into detail about them outside of our meetings.

We met today for a progress report, our first since last November, and I am fairly sure the meeting was only called because I wrote last month to all the great and the good condemning the delays and decay in no uncertain terms.

We learnt that the current plan was to call another meeting in mid October to look at the plans from the consultants for this area. We were as one, for a change, in agreeing that this was too far in the future. For once I was able to agree with Councillor Warren Bradley when he said that this had gone on far too long since his personal promise two years ago to sort this out. He said he could not condemn local people to pushing the boulder back up the hill. And speaking as a fireman he said he knew and understood how desperate the situation was.

Councillor Radford reminded him, and Councillor Doran, local ward councillor and Assistant Executive member for Housing who chairs this steering group that rarely meets, that they are in fact the administration so blaming someone else was hardly an option.

Anyway, we pushed for a timescale that ends in mid September, not mid October and left officers in no doubt that we need progress now.

The interim report (that is probably interim to the power of 5 by now) talks about a mixed response to the area, some demolition, some refurb and has engaged in lots of agencies and partners so I do feel very vaguely hopeful that we might in the end get something near what we want.

I would like to say I am confident however, it has dragged on long past that point.

I dont really know who to point the finger at, officers for not making this the top of their work pile every day until it is sorted, or the administration LibDems for not asking them to. All I know is that I have asked nicely, and then more firmly and then shouted and put my foot down with a firm hand and finally today became emotional and more or less begged for some progress, as my residents are living in the sort of circumstances that would be familiar in Basra.

Hopefully that message has now got through, please God we can finally take some action. If I could only sort one thing out as a councillor this year, this would be it!


JB said...

All the more scandalous is that local builders and community groups have offered to buy these houses at market value to restore them - but the city council has stonewalled any investment, in favour of demolition by default.

All the hard work of people like Louise, Steve and the Friends of Newsham Park to find a solution has been treated with contempt.

HEBraun said...

Just a brief message from a resident of Homerton Road (off Elm Vale) - quite close to the derelict buildings, and one more than aware of the danger they represent, not least to young families living in the area.

Many thanks for pursuing this, Louise! The hopes and promises unfulfilled, the dragging of feet on the part of the administration, the political shenanigans accompanying the whole process have led to a lot of local frustration and downright cynicism.

So many would benefit if these buildings are restored - preferably turned into family homes - and (North) Kensington and Fairfield given a fairer share of the riches apparently available.


JB said...

Give the city council a chance - look how different things were two years ago!

JB said...

Give the city council a chance - look how different things were two years ago!

Kaye said...

I have contacted the council in Liverpool quite a few times to ask them about empty houses as I would like to buy one and renovate it. However, there is either never an answer or they tell me to find an empty house and look at the LandRegistry site that I have to pay for a set of documents - for which I am never guaranteed an answer from the owners. I didn't realise that most of the empty houses were owned by the Council. They should produce a web list of all available empty houses for sale and potential renovation costs and make it available online on the council web site. That way, perhaps the city would eventually get moving, the money could be put into rejuvenating this poor city's people and crime rates could possibly be reduced. I've also made a video of the hopeless situation 'house hunting in liverpool'
Kaye Bewley