Monday, December 08, 2008

Total betrayal - it's all over for Prescot Road and Drive

Louise Baldock press release on Thursday 4th December 2008.

Dozens of houses on Prescot Road and Prescot Drive in Fairfield, the subject of controversy for years after Liverpool City Council mothballed them in 2000 with the intention of 'one day' coming up with a plan for them, will now face the wrecker's ball.

Today the worst possible outcome has been achieved as the council has recognised that mass demolition is the only answer left.

Back in 2000, some of these homes were empty and boarded up when residents drawing up the Blue Print plan for the renewal area identified them as key to renewal, saying they were blighting the area. Back then however many were still being lived in and the problems only related to a proportion of the properties.

In December 2005 a villa on Prescot Drive burnt down after a murderous arson attack.

A few months later, the Council leader, Firefighter Councillor Warren Bradley, promised local residents that he would give the issue of the empty homes his personal attention after visiting the site and seeing the fire damage. He set up a working group to tackle the problem.

In 2006, in election week, local Liberal Democrat Councillors who were in charge of these renewal plans (local Councillor Frank Doran was Assistant Executive Member for Housing and chair of this new working group) were talking of an imminent plan to tackle the blight.

A majority of houses by this time were empty and boarded up.

That same week, May 2006, Labour took the first seat from the Liberal Democrats in Kensington and Fairfield

In June 2006 the Friends of Newsham Park applied to the Secretary of State to force the council to sell particular of the houses it owned on Prescot Drive, rather than see them rot. The council managed to delay this until such time as the conditions became impossible to honour this order. In fact they remain in public ownership.

In 2007, after a second serious but thankfully not fatal house fire, this time on Prescot Road, Liberal Democrat Councillors repeated their intention to tackle this Liverpool disgrace.

In May 2007 Labour took the second seat from the Liberal Democrats

In October 2007 Liberal Democrat Councillors were talking about "a vital breakthrough to tackle the problems"

In May 2008 the final Liberal Democrat Councillor, Frank Doran, lost his seat to Labour.

Councillor Louise Baldock took over the chair of the working group in July this year with the firm intention of saving as many of the properties as possible, with the emphasis clearly on refurbishment rather than demolition.

However, in December 2008, nearly 9 years after concerns were first raised, a Liverpool City Council meeting (of the Newsham Park Steering Group) has very reluctantly agreed the necessity to demolish them all.

Labour Councillor Louise Baldock who said in August 2007 "If I could only sort one thing out as a councillor this year, this would be it!" has had to admit defeat after battling for nearly three years.

She told the Echo "These splendid Victorian villas on Prescot Drive overlooking the park, and the large family houses on Prescot Road could have been saved in 2000 when their condition was first raised. They could have been saved many times over since too, but the council has been absolutely delinquent in its failure to act. I have long since lost count of the times that they have promised us one wonderful scheme or another. And now here we are, a mountain of professional surveys and marketing exercises having made it absolutely clear that we cannot any longer save any of them.
The delays have lead to terrible deterioration and they will all have to be knocked down.

And this, believe it or not, is a conservation area!

It is nearly 3 years since Councillor Warren Bradley, the leader of Liverpool City Council promised us his personal commitment to preserve our heritage. What price that commitment now?

The council's total betrayal has left me breathless. I don’t mind admitting that I wept after the meeting. The people of Fairfield and the heritage lovers of Liverpool who have fought so hard to save these houses have been treated with utter contempt and disdain.

And to add insult to this injury, current financial conditions in the housing market are such that there will not be any money for a new scheme to be built on what will be the clearance area. We are essentially going to get a grassed over area, with a wish and a prayer that one day someone somewhere will find some money to build something suitable to replace our lost homes."

Entries from the internet which relate

December 2005 - a house is burnt down in an arson attack which costs the life of a resident - arsonists on charge of murder http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/merseyside/4573144.stm

April 2006 - my blog - before I was elected - http://louisebaldock.blogspot.com/2006/04/libdem-council-holding-back-progress.html

June 2006 - Friends of Newsham Park persuade Secretary of State to take some action http://www.emptyhomes.com/documents/publications/case/Microsoft%20Word%20-%2006-06-05%20Friends%20of%20Newsham%20Park%20Press%20Release%20re.%20Prod.pdf

January 2007 - matter is discussed in Parliament http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2007-01-30b.103928.h

April 2007 - I call for action after serious house fires http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2007/04/21/end-our-fear-plea-in-haunt-of-arson-gangs-64375-18938028/ - and resident says "“Maybe they are hoping that if they wait long enough they will fall down on their own. The council doesn’t give a damn about us. They are using delaying tactic after delaying tactic.”

April 2007 - more about the latest fire http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news//tm_headline=anger-over-latest-attack-on-houses&method=full&objectid=18937724&siteid=50061-name_page.html

August 2007 - my blog - and still it drags on - good detail and five comments on the entry http://louisebaldock.blogspot.com/2007/08/prescot-road-and-prescot-drive-steering.html

October 2007 - promises from the LibDems of "a vital breakthrough to sort out the problem." http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2007/10/23/hope-at-last-on-arson-target-homes-100252-19992770/

March 2008 - now the council is talking about selling those houses it has failed to repair http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2008/03/17/liverpool-city-council-accused-of-neglecting-historic-houses-64375-20633193/

3 comments:

steve faragher said...

Between C7 Stitch City a Coucil Up Bellway it's.

Rearrange this well know phrase or saying!

steve faragher said...

Whats the chance of delaying the wrecking ball until May 2010? they've waited eight years presumabley two more yearsa wont hurt.

scouseboy said...

This just goes to show how right the electorate of Kenny were last May... The Fib Dems just do not care