PATHFINDER JUGGERNAUT THREATENS COMMUNITIES
The brief summary of the Pathfinder programme (AJ 23.06.05) is welcome, but misses several pertinent points. Pathfinder is a topdown scheme, not based on communities' desires and aspirations, but on research into housing conditions by academics with little regard for those who occupy the threatened areas. Much of the consultation of the affected communities appears to be little more than a sham. Reports of public meetings are of shouting matches, not the happy picture of partnership painted for the politicians.
The threat to heritage is vast. The 'northern way' calls for up to 400,000 pre-1919 houses to be demolished. Ministers seem unable to stick to their guns on the figures, only citing the number that will be pulled down by 2006. These are not the slum buildings of the 1930s clearances, but well-built properties. Many of those classified as unfit have been so on the basis of 10-minute external inspections.
With the loss of these historic buildings comes the loss of communities. The threat of clearance causes some people to cut their losses in the face of derisory compensation. Once forced out, their only option is to buy a more expensive house elsewhere. This is immoral. Those who stay face a long and hard fight for their homes. Their spirit should be applauded and built on, not bulldozed by a multi-billion-pound policy that appears out of control.
Adam Wilkinson, secretary, SAVE Britain's Heritage