Monday, 4 July 2011

Toxteth Riots - 30 Years On

Managed decline? 30 years on from the riots and these council-owned houses in Jermyn Street, Granby, remain tinned-up
Sunday's newspapers carried a number of articles reflecting on the 30th anniversary of the Toxteth riots including a hard-hitting column by Charles Clover in the Sunday Times and a moving piece by Ed Vuillamy in the Observer.

A prevailing theme of the reporting was Liverpool's failure to heal the physical wounds left by the disturbances - principally in the Victorian streets around Granby. Instead of investing in renovation and repair, the council has squandered millions of pounds acquiring, boarding up and demolishing good housing stock in preparation for redevelopment which has failed to materialise. The Vuillamy article in the Observer includes a brilliantly inciteful summary of the situation by award-winning Liverpool-born scriptwriter Jimmy McGovern:

'I'm starting to hope that it is corruption,' McGovern says of the demolitions in Toxteth and beyond. 'At least that would make sense, it would mean someone is getting something dodgy out of it. Because if it isn't corruption, it's real madness. At least corruption would provide a motive. What would be really scary would be if they really are that crap.'

But of course there's the possibility, McGovern continues, 'that this is managed decline. Any fool can see that in Kensington, the bit they 'regenerated' went to seed, while the bit they left alone just got on with its life. People come in from out of town, have their 'regeneration scheme' and fuck off with the money to spend it somewhere else.

The idea is that these areas will only succeed when the people who live here can no longer afford to live here. It all makes sense if you detach the argument from the people - but what about the people? What are you going to do with them? Well, you knock their houses down and ship 'em out.'

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