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Liverpool resident halts Pathfinder programme

Keith Parkins | 27.09.2006 14:55 | Repression | Social Struggles | Liverpool

In successfully challenging a Compulsory Purchase Order on her home a Liverpool resident may have dealt a fatal blow to the hated New Labour Pathfinder programme.

'This is a pyrrhic victory for me. It is bittersweet because much of my community has already been destroyed as a result of this initiative.' -- Elizabeth Pascoe

Pathfinder is a New Labour/John Prescott pet project. In Liverpool and across the north of England, tens of thousands of homes are being destroyed in the name of urban regeneration.

In Liverpool, swathes of Victorian housing is being destroyed. It would cost far less to renovate the existing housing, than new build, and would provide better quality housing, but what it would not provide is development opportunities for developers. And that is what Pathfinder is all about, development opportunities for developers and helping housing associations to rapidly expand.

In Liverpool, home owners are being offered paltry sums for their homes. If they refuse, they are served Compulsory Purchase Orders and their homes seized. If they play ball, they are offered a housing association home as they are no longer in a position to get back on the property ladder. Private tenants are being dumped on sink estates, if they refuse what they are offered, they are deemed homeless.

Local Labour MP Jane Kennedy described the plan as "social cleansing" at the public inquiry that approved the plans.

Elisabeth Pascoe has today won a victory in the High Court in London. She challenged the Compulsory Purchase of her home, claiming that it violated her Human Rights. The Judge found in her favour. Elisabeth Pascoe has described her victory as 'bitter sweet' as many of her neighbours have already been forced out of their homes.

Community activists have voiced concern at the involvement of criminal families. A nod and a wink, at best a blind eye, is turned to their activities. Criminal families are moved in to soften up the community, their relatives sit on the boards of pro-Pathfinder agencies. No structures are in place to address these issues.

In being prepared to not only speak out, but mount a legal challenge, Elisabeth Pascoe has shown herself to be a very brave lady. Her house has been broken into in the early hours of the morning, for her to be held at knife point, her car has been repeatedly trashed, a video of her car being trashed by local criminals was conveniently 'lost' by the local police (the local police receive funding from pro-Pathfinder agencies). Stress forced Elisabeth Pascoe to give up her Doctoral studies.

Local campaigner and documentary filmmaker Mike Lane who has fought hard against Pathfinder and the corrupt local council has received death threats, had his car fire-bombed and been forced to move house for fear of his life.

Pathfinder is part of a wider trend of forcing council tenants into the private sector through the sale of their homes to housing associations and for existing housing associations through mergers and acquisitions to form ever larger unaccountable property conglomerates.

In the south of England, Aldershot-based Pavilion a failing housing association, was forced to merge with Eastleigh-based Atlantic to form First Wessex Group. For a brief honeymoon period matters at Pavilion improved, tenants were treated as decent human beings, repairs were carried out, but matters are now as bad if not worse than they were. First Wessex is now trying to takeover Portsmouth Housing Association.

Peter Sandy, a local Aldershot councillor, has been put before the Standards Board for England on trumped up charges because he dared to challenge what was going on.

This evening, a meeting between Pavilion tenants and local residents and First Wessex senior management had to be canceled at extremely short notice when it was learnt that senior management from First Wessex would not be attending. They has been instructed not to attend by John Edwards, a senior official at Rushmoor Borough Council.

Stop Press: The Law Commission are proposing a radical change in the law covering property rights on renting homes. They are wishing to turn the entire sector, including social housing, into a commodity market, making it easier for tenants to move home.

Stop Press: London Social Forum are holding a meeting called the Divided City to discuss housing and land rights issues. It will take place at Limehouse Town Hall in East London midday to around 6pm Sunday 1 October 2006. Nearest station Limehouse on the Docklands Light Railway.



A clean-sheet new start for renting homes, press release, Law Commission, 5 May 2006

Divided City Open Forum on speculation, housing - Sun 1st Oct, London, Indymedia UK, 22 September 2006

Grandmother wins home demolition battle, Liverpool Echo, 27 September 2006

High Court bid to stop demolition, BBC news on-line, 24 July 2006

Homes demolition plan challenged, BBC news on-line, 24 March 2006

Mike Lane, The Regeneration Game, 2006 {DVD}

Keith Parkins, pathfinder schemes, Indymedia UK, 14 February 2005

Keith Parkins, Pathfinder schemes – a path to corruption?, Indymedia UK, 14 March 2005

Keith Parkins, First Wessex plan takeover of Portsmouth housing, Indymedia UK, 12 September 2006

Woman wins homes demolition fight, BBC news on-line, 27 September 2006

Keith Parkins