Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Prescott floored by little old lady

Finally, some common sense from somewhere. A court has ruled that John Prescott's house demolition scheme is illegal. The case ended up in court because an old lady refused to take lying down the proposed demolition of her home. Elizabeth Pascoe went to court to challenge the compulsory purchase order and won.

If the CPO had stood, the way would have been clear for the demolition of 500 homes in Liverpool in order to create a route into the city centre. Some other CPOs are in the offing, and it remains to be seen whether the Government will proceed with them.

The Pathfinder scheme is a waste of money. Up to 700,000 homes in the Midlands and the North are targeted for demolition. The project is estimated to cost £1.2bn by 2008. However, knowing this Government, it could very easily exceed that. To date, £500 million has already been spent.

There is no justification for demolition on such a massive scale. The advocates of this plan believe that this is the best course of action to address what they curiously refer to as 'housing market failure'. The properties being knocked down will be replaced with fewer houses, ostensibly to take account of the fact that there are fewer people to occupy them. The lunacy of this plan is even more stark when one considers that this same Government is embarking on a wide-ranging house-building programme in the already crowded South East.

In any case, would it not be cheaper to renovate these properties? The Government has also ignored
advice from English Heritage that renovation would also be environmentally friendlier and better for the social fabric.

As today's case was a test case, any other houses covered by that CPO would benefit from the judgment. I don't expect the Government to appeal the decision. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this scheme wasn't shelved altogether. Prescott's successor, Ruth Kelly, doesn't seem to be burning with fervour towards it. She has already stepped in once to save a row of houses from the demolition truck. I certainly hope that this is the last we hear of Pathfinder.

On a wider point, this case has shown us that it is worthwhile to challenge the Government when they act outside their powers. The old lady who brought the case did not even have to dip into her pocket to fund it. She was given legal aid because there were serious legal issues concerning the scheme that needed to be clarified. We should draw encouragement from today's events. No Government is all-powerful, and from time to time, it falls to the citizens to ensure that they do not exceed their powers. Elizabeth Pascoe did that today, and this blog salutes her.
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Anonymous Angry Taxpayer said...

Can you imagine, £1.2bn earmarked for something that is not even legal in the first place? The cheek of this Government is staggering.

8:13 PM  
Anonymous janet said...

The only people who stand to gain from this Pathfinder scheme are the housing associations, local councils and developers. What about the common man for whom Labour is supposed to be fighting? Turfed out on the street as the demolition man sets about his house. Hypocritical of Labour, what else is new?

8:17 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I join you in your salute.

This is a mad situation. They want more houses in the south and want to demolish houses in the north. Why don't we all just pack up and move everything down to below Watford Gap?!

Maybe it's because of northern constituencies being stronger Labour supporters that the government feels it can get away with this. I hope the people in the north and the midlands realise that they're being taken for granted for the benefit of the south and decide to get rid of New Labour at the next chance.

PS: I don't have anything against the south... I quite like it... I have something against this government and how it is destroying the country.

4:15 AM  
Blogger Ellee Seymour said...

I salute her too and I hope others will follow her determined stand. She had the law on her side, and this makes all the difference to a campaign to stop Prezza bulldozing perfectly good homes. We don't want more homes in the south either, there isn't the infrastructure for it.

2:29 PM  

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