Shapps under fire over 'Return to Pathfinder'
Saved: 9 Madryn Street - the birthplace of drummer Richard Starkey (born 7.7.1940), best known by his stage name, Ringo Starr (coined when he joined the Beatles in 1962). He lived here until the age of four. The building was due to be demolished under the Pathfinder programme. Main surronuding homes are still set to be flattened
Campaigners have attacked Housing Minister Grant Shapps for reneging on his promise to stop the widespread bulldozing of hundreds of homes in Liverpool
SAVE Britain’s Heritage and the Empty Homes Charity hit out at Shapps for using the announcement expected later today about the ‘rescue’ of Ringo Starr’s birthplace and a handful of neighbouring homes as a smokescreen to hide the ‘scandalous continued clearance’ of 500 terrace houses in the City’s Welsh Streets area.
Last November, condemning Labour’s controversial £2.2 billion Pathfinder housing renewal programme, Shapps told Parliament ‘the era of large scale demolition was over’.
However SAVE claims Shapps’ department has since signed off around £30million for further clearances in the City and have branded the reprieve for the Beatles’ drummer’s house as ‘tokenism’.
SAVE director Clem Cecil said: ‘Ringo’s birthplace is an important site, but unless this heralds the start of a real effort by the government and local authorities, together with local residents, to save Liverpool’s remaining terraces, it is a pyrrhic victory, secured by the minister and Liverpool council at the expense of ordinary people’s homes and the country’s built heritage.’
Television presenter and architect George Clarke, who was appointed as the government’s empty homes adviser in April following the success of his Channel 4 programme The Great British Property Scandal , said: ‘I’m delighted some houses on the street where Ringo Starr once lived have been saved, but there are dozens of streets - in Liverpool and across the country - that are still being knocked down unnecessarily. I will continue to do what I can to lobby the government and change the mindset of every local council to save them.’
The minister’s department was unavailable for comment.
David Ireland, chief executive of charity Empty Homes said: ‘The house building industry is building less homes than at anytime since the 1920s. The notion that serviceable houses should be demolished to make way for a house building scheme that hasn’t even been given planning permission is a dicey game with taxpayer’s money. In this market demolishing houses is easy, building new ones is far from certain. The government is rightly encouraging greater reuse of empty stock and its great news that some of the houses are to be reused, but this scheme falls short of what people have a right to expect after a decade of badly managed regeneration in Liverpool.’
Marcus Binney, SAVE’s president: ‘We have fixed up one house for £3,000. We now challenge Liverpool Council to make other houses in Madryn Street available to use for immediate renovation and use by local families.’
Jonathan Brown Merseyside Civic Society planner: ‘We’re obviously proud and delighted to save a key piece of Beatles’ heritage, but it needs to be part of a revived inner city where all houses are safe from back-room deals between local officials and developer interests. We have a long list of people wanting to come back and live in these houses - all we need is a little more help from our friends Mayor Anderson and Minister Shapps.’