Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Commitment to council tenants? It's more like a Circus... (but at least there's some great street art on the way)

I attended a meeting of the residents' consultative panel looking at plans for the redevelopment of the old Circus Street market in the Tarner area. There was lots of discussion about whether residents of two neighbouring blocks of council flats, Kingswood and Milner, would prefer to abandon the council and throw their lot in with the developers - a transfer of council housing stock by the back door in other words. I don't believe residents really want to leave the council, they just want repairs and maintenance to be carried out and are fed up with the Labour/Tory alliance that's been running this city for so long failing to meet even the basics - let alone the 'Decent Homes Standard' - the minimum standards for council housing laid down by Government. The developer Cathedral wants to press on, and is urging residents to make a decision quickly. Of course they can't make any informed decision at all until new Tory council leader Mary Mears keeps her promise to let them know when improvements are planned at the blocks: she's promised to reveal her plans but has so far shown no signs of doing so - or even turning up to a residents meeting to explain why. Council tenants in this city have learned that their interests aren't safe when Labour run things - they're fast realising that things aren't any better with the Tories nominally in charge (but of course we know that in fact it's the officers who make the real decisions either way). I've asked Mary Mears, again, to let residents know what's going on: watch this space and I'll let you know what she says...

Meanwhile, the developers and the local residents have gone halves and found the cash to tidy the area up in the short term: something everyone could agree on. Following the tough decision to close Tarner Park to graffiti artists, it has been decided to commission some street art from the same artist responsible for the graffiti murals at Kensington Street (pictured). I can't wait to see the finished result - I'll bring you pictures as soon as I can!

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