On believing in everyone having a secure home as a human right.
This is roughly the text of my talk to the Liverpool Walton Constituency Labour Party on the evening of 22nd May 2018.
From a lifetime working in and around housing and communities and at the request of the Walton Constituency Labour Party here in Liverpool, these are my ‘Top 10’ thoughts, a mixture of policies and practicalities, on how we might go about fixing the wide ranging housing crisis we are now in.
In the early days of this blog we had a look round Liverpool in 1953, the place I was about to get born into. In this follow up to that one we’re going to come in a bit closer. Having spent much of my life with no early photographs of my early days, I’ve recently gathered up a few, courtesy of my Dad. And they’ve got a story to tell.
But before I arrive, of course, my parents have to meet.
In this lovely picture Joe is eight and Terry four. Meaning it’s 1936. They are living in North Liverpool down by the Dock Road.
“Even at that age, in those days, we were allowed to roam wherever we liked and I was trusted to look after Terry’ Joe says now. ‘We’d go to church on our own and then go off wandering around the docks and streets and even into town. I remember me and Terry being in town together even after it had gone dark. We had a much bigger Liverpool to play in than children seem to be allowed now. It was great.”
This was another of our many big days now. First 5 Community Land Trust Houses finished and open.
And here are some of us who’ve helped this to happen: Joe Halligan, architect from Assemble, Tracey Gore of Steve Biko Housing, Lorna Mackie of the Nationwide Foundation, Eleanor Lee of Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust, Councillor Ann O’Byrne – Deputy Mayor of Liverpool – and me, also of the CLT.
Isn’t ‘Heritage’ a peculiar word and concept? How come some things are ‘Heritage’ and others merely ‘ordinary.’ And who decides anyway? Being ‘National Heritage Weekend’ when you can get into approved places you might not always be able to, I decided to walk round the neighbourhood here and have a think.
Granby 4 Streets of course. Where I spent most of yesterday and much of the last week. This week we’ve started handing out the keys to the first Community Land Trust houses to come off site. This week they’ve started turning into homes. Heritage or just places where people live?
Yesterday I published my arguments about the dangers of over regulating social enterprise in ‘Sectors are where movements go to die.’ Saying at the time that I’d be happy to publish the counter arguments of my debating partner in this inaugural Ethos Paper debate at Baltic Social a few days ago. Good enough, Matt Donnelly of Health Equalities Group has sent me what he said and here it is. Over to you Matt.
Recently Ethos Paper invited me to take part in their first public debate here in Liverpool on the question of whether we’re in danger of over-regulating social enterprise?
The brief from my friend Fiona Shaw of Ethos Paper being:
“Why bother with “Social Enterprise”? Why not just be social and enterprising?
We want the debate to be generally about the regulation of ’social enterprises’ and purism, and if you can be a social enterprise without specifically being set up as a CIC, and – if you are – whether it hampers the way you operate, in fact?!
I thought you might be interested in presenting the case against too much regulation?”
She knows me well!
So I had a walk around and a think, wrote some notes and people gathered one evening at the Baltic Social on Parliament Street for the debate. Matt Donnelly of Health Equalities Group spoke in favour of regulation and me against the motion.
Once again I did more talking than photography at Granby 4 Streets Market. No apologies for that. Such a joy to have so many friends in one street on a sunny late summer Saturday for the last Street Market of the summer season.
The last Granby 4 Streets Market of this summer season this Saturday, 5th September. And a very special one too.
We are telling the stories of the place now. Listen.
This is Zeena Mekki telling a story of this week, this century and the last one. The story of a seafarer. The story of a migrant. The story of a refugee. A story of welcome. Of decades and of love. The story of coming home, of being human. The story of her Dad and Granby. Listen.
A (splendid) late breakfast with a friend here, ended with me setting off on another of my random walks down the far south end of Liverpool. Previous Aigburth walks have featured the suspected Magdalene Laundry we didn’t want and the planned Aigburth Docks we never got. Let’s set off up a road I don’t think I’ve ever walked along, certainly not with a camera, and see what we find.
A long narrow road where, as you can see, they’re touchy about parking. It’s gently suburban now, but as you can see from the age of the sandstone walls, older and maybe grander houses have stood here once.
Cairns Street in Granby selected for possible ‘Great Street’ award.
Unless you’ve been living under a stone or, even worse, not reading my blog posts, you’ll know that Assemble, the Granby 4 Streets architects have been nominated for the Turner Prize for their work with us. What might have escaped your notice is that we’ve also been nominated for something else. The Academy of Urbanism’s ‘Great Street’ award.
This award covers the UK and Ireland and award nominations are made by members of the Academy, not by representatives of the streets themselves. And awards given cover places, neighbourhoods and towns as well as the one for individual streets.
So we didn’t put in for it, but are of course delighted to have been picked. The two other streets up for it are Deptford High Street in London and Oliver Plunkett Street in Cork. And today the Academy of Urbanism judges arrived in Cairns Street to take a look around and meet some of the people we’ve all been working with in the 4 Streets these last few years.
Erika talked about the ways local people have been literally ‘repossessing’ these 4 streets over the last few years, amplifying some of the points we’d made in the brochure (above) that we’d prepared for the day. Continue reading “The Great Street?”