Hyndburn and Haslingden MP Jones and David Ireland cross swords over demolitions
Graham Jones, Labour MP for Haslingden and Hyndburn and David Ireland of the Empty Homes Agency have engaged in an interesting debate about demolitions in Jones's blog. Jones makes a robust defence of the need for demolitions in his constituency while Ireland quotes statistics about the size of local housing waiting lists in defence of the need to retain empty homes and bring them back into occupation.
One of the virtues of Jones' reply is that he starts to deconstruct what housing waiting list figures actually mean in practice, in particular that they reflect people's needs for better housing at affordable rents rather than the need for any old housing at any price. But David Ireland's reply to these points has yet to appear (if it ever will) so this is not necessarily the end of the argument on that aspect of the debate. [Update: David Ireland was not able to reply on Graham Jones's blog but did reply on his own blog as reported in a comment attached to this story]
David Ireland's reply doesn't appear to concede any ground on the need to demolish homes at all in the current housing market, even in the extreme circumstances of Hyndburn. This is a fairly significant hardening of the EHA's position over the years since Jonathan Ellis's tenure as Chief Executive. [Update: see David's comment below on this issue]
Graham Jones hasn't so far addressed one of Ireland's main complaints ie that the Market Renewal exercise itself contributed significantly to the issues of abandonment and market decline by blighting the areas targeted for renewal. However, the continuing problems of area decline are certainly strongly related to the abrupt termination of the Pathfinder funding. The merit of the arguments for and against will eventually become clearer when the dust settles and we discover whether sustained attempts to reinvigorate the housing markets in the areas affected are successful or not.
The debate can be found here. For fuller details about the HMR Pathfinder programme refer to the link to the Commons Note in our library here or refer to all the related materials by searching using the relevant tag.
Also featured on Jone's blog is a long and interesting letter from the Chair of a Liverpool Welsh Streets Residents' Association which airs the seldom-reported perspective of residents who have welcomed the Market Renewal outcomes (where they have been achieved!).
NB this article should not be taken as promoting one view over another - if you are interested visit the blog and draw your own conclusions.
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