Story: Lisa Swift
Over 25 residents and ex-residents of Skinnerthorpe Road attended a meeting at Pakistan Advice Centre in January, angry about broken promises made by the Council.
Only 20 homes remain occupied on the street, where demolition has already begun. The last few families have been waiting for new houses on Earl Marshal for 4 years. The new homes were promised by the Council as part of the Masterplan and Housing Market Renewal programme, which has funded the demolition of their homes.
The residents came with a list of questions for the Cabinet member for housing, Lib Dem Councillor Bob McCann, but one question was top:
“When will our new homes be ready?”
But the Council found it difficult to answer this question. One resident said:
“You gave us a promise – that you would not touch Skinnerthorpe Road before building on Earl Marshal. You said ‘trust us’ but look at us now – we're living in terrible conditions”
The Council denied they had made this explicit promise, only that they had ‘hoped’ it would be that way.
“We've been coming to these meetings for years, we just want dates. When will the new houses be ready? I have lived here 30 years and it’s been fantastic; we've never had any bother. Now there's graffiti, fires and tyres slashed on cars. You said new houses for our old ones, we just want an answer.”
The Council could not give the answer. They have to get a private developer to build, which is a lengthy process, but in the current climate there is very little interest in large building programmes. A discussion about the process revealed that the minimum time it could take would be two years, but this was optimistic.
A resident asked, “Why can't the Council build them?”
The Council said they had no money to build new homes. Residents were left in an impossible position with the valuation of their homes plummeting. Another resident said, “My offer has gone down to £55k, what can I buy with that?”
The Council did not seem to have a plan for this situation. The Pakistan Advice Centre, who are now supporting the residents, advised the East Regeneration Team and the Councillor to take into account what residents had said, and to come up with a way forward. Cllr McCann said he would come back to the residents with a month.