Powers to force people out of their homes against their will should be revoked

Hundreds of homes have been demolished, whilst more remain derelict, shuttered-up with painted boards in a vain attempt to make the place less like a slum, and yet the city council and Renew are still pressing on with their plans to throw people out of their homes, against their will.

This week, councillors will contemplate more clearance which partner Renew favours for the scrap heap in Middleport, an area which has already seen the unpopular demise of the vicinity of Slater Street for what residents
could see as no good reason. Some in fact still remain amid the desolation awaiting a fair deal in recompense for
their untimely and unwanted move.

Over in Eaton Street, Hanley, after a couple of years of struggle from the half of the homeowners who could be
bothered to dare to argue with the council that they deserved to stay in the houses they thought were theirs for keeps, the block is still standing, awaiting a fate which is yet to be announced.

But the so-called regeneration machine just keeps finding excuses to announce the next bulldozing project. The council meeting will take place in private this Wednesday to debate the fate of this new set of 127 homes in Shirley Street, Middleport, which for whatever reason have been selected by Renew’s team of redevelopment experts to be either knocked down, do them up, or just leave them the way they are.

And according to The Sentinel, Renew has already indicated that it prefers the clearance to make for ‘better quality
housing’ option.

The question is, how dare they? How dare Renew have a preferred option of people’s houses? I have interviewed
scores and scores of people who have been directly affected by these Compulsory Purchase Orders, and I have yet to come across someone who owned their house in one of the earmarked areas say they were in favour of the proposals. In Slater Street, the overwhelming opinion was that they might as well take what they can get from the
council, since they believed they had no choice but to leave their homes, even though they didn’t want to. Others
stayed on to fight a long, unsuccessful battle which ended up being a waste of time after the public inquiry found that the CPO should stand and the people would have no choice but to up and leave their properties.

In Eaton Street, many residents fought against the council in another case which saw a public inquiry find in favour
of the authority’s proposals.

People like Eve Maley in Eaton Street, as far away as Elizabeth Pascoe in Liverpool, took their plight to the High Court when they found themselves in the same position, and now even talk of some regret the move, despite vowing never to leave their homes against their will, having wasted years of their lives on a fruitless campaign which took a huge toll on their health, their wallets, and their sanity.

Yet the authorities along with partners like Renew, continue to make decisions like this which they believe are right for ‘the city’, with no regard for those who get in their way, even if they are the ones who made the houses their homes. Why should people be forced out of their homes, their community shattered, and forced to move to a new area where they don’t know a soul, and have to fight for a fair price for their property, all in the name of the regeneration of Stoke? It’s simply not right. But, with those who chose not to accept a fate allotted to them taking their cries of help all the way to the High Court and still found no relief, it appears there’s no stopping them.

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