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(en) Britain, Freedom* #7215 - Liverpool’s people power

Date Sun, 18 Sep 2011 15:43:06 +0300

Residents of Cairns Street in Toxteth, Liverpool 8, defied private contractors by blockading the street on the morning of 11th July as they came to demolish a set of impressive Victorian houses as part of the areas “regeneration” scheme. Locals insist the properties should be refurbished and that their views were ignored on the matter, as a result they sprang into action quickly making homemade banners and preventing workmen from accessing the site. Property developers Lovell, accompanied by police, were met with peaceful yet determined resistance and had to abandon their plans for the day. Residents, many of whom are from the riots of 1981 generation, have been holding regular all day community markets to highlight the issue with stalls selling artwork by local artists, homemade bread and cakes, Caribbean cuisine and a bike repair session. They have also been holding vigils outside the houses on Kingsley Road at the end of Cairns Street.

The current actions stem from the Labour controlled council giving contracts to developers to knock the houses around Cairns Street, as part of a “regeneration” process which is Council-speak for demolishing the existing strong sturdy housing stock to make cheaper, smaller higher rent houses that take up less space – space that can then be sold off to the highest bidder. As one councillor put it “The homes which are to be demolished will be replaced with three modern homes fit for the 21st century, as part of our aims to drive up the quality of housing in the area”. Liverpool 8 has been blighted over the years with the constant boarding up and demolition of houses making parts of the area a permanent building site.

But this is nothing new, the residents of Cairns Street and the surrounding few streets have been fighting the supposed ‘regeneration’ of the area for more than eighteen years. The Granby area of Toxteth would be row upon row of substandard new housing if it had not been for the fortitude of its remaining residents. Liverpool council continue to use underhand tactics in their bid to move every single resident from the area, and constantly undermine the efforts of these people.

Stella Shackel from Cairns Street said, “These once beautiful large buildings have been left to rot, along with a lot of taxpayer-owned property, and are no worse than other buildings. The council have rushed it through without proper consultation of all neighbours affected.” There is now Granby Four Streets Trust which was set up to offer an community-led alternative to the current council policy with the practical aim of making all the empty houses in the surrounding streets into homes again.

* Anarchist journal
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