Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Regeneration equals de-generation

The elderly, the infirm, the sick. Babies. People dying, being born – and living their formative years. Those with goals and ambitions, others who live only for the day – and struggle to survive it. Good people. Bad people. In between people – decent. Hardworkers. The unemployed and many with money problems. Struggling mothers, loyal fathers. School children. Those with relationship issues. And some trying – against the chemical odds – to hold it all together.

All these beautiful human beings are made to suffer when the greed and corruption of local government authorities (i.e. councils) decide to “regenerate”, aka “improve”, their housing stock - to sell on at a later date.

And someone like me (i.e. with multiple sclerosis (MS)) acts as a microcosm of the macrocosm, which is all of the local community. Because someone with MS feels every little nerve attack to penetrate the Central Nervous System (CNS) and exhibits, in exacerbated symptoms, the results of that damage, to be witnessed and recorded for all time.

As human rights are violated ( Articles 3 & 8) by the tyranny of beaurocracy, so an MSer will prove through their own being, the inhumanity of this social scheming.

The torture which is the experience of existing (for there’s no life) each day on a building-site. With the cacophony of voices, vibrations and machines.

It is the soundtrack of Hell ('Pandemonium' in Milton’s Paradise Lost) with Mammon as conductor of the orchestra, Beelzebub, principal percussionist. And you can't get it out of your brain...

I cannot believe this is happening [what, not bad enough the progressive MS?] but it is. Apparently. I am to be imprisoned on a X [borough name] council building-site for the second time in eight years (first time 2000-2003 in last home – was moved because of it and for wheelchair access (good that I’m Catholic and can believe in Purgatory and serving my “time” on earth – I hope most of it!)).

But, as I promised in this house when first it was rumoured (i.e. we all had to vote for a new landlord and this one – a Registered Social Landlord (RSL), calling itself ‘Community Housing’ – won [so they tell us – we voted “No”*]). As I said at that time: if this happpens again and I haven’t managed to leave, then this time with a blog, I will record exactly what it’s like, as it happens. So that governments might in future consider all tenants before they do, their rash, brash, money-mad plans.

What else is a housebound journalist going to do?

Oh, watch out, you minions of Mammon!

*We covered the first of this borough’s sell-offs in the local paper I was on and that result was, I believe, a ‘No’ from tenants but the take-over still went ahead. [This is the same council, some may recall, was a “flag-ship” Assembly in England, with its own, self-“elected”, Mayor!].

Yet I realise some tenants fell for the hype and thought this would be a good thing. Perhaps they decided it was the better of two evils [a lot of that in my life at the moment!] the second option being a Private Finance Initiative (PFI), aka private landlord – in order to get repairs/renovation done. Those, presumably, who now serve on the board of the RSL or, at the very least, have become ‘shareholders’ in their ‘community’. It does sound good.

But, what they’re not seeing are the years – they promise five! – of noise, disruption and filthy mess that will engulf their every waking moment.

And what they’re not thinking of are the rent-increases to come (usually, I believe, after the first five years which are in line with inflation. After thirty say, when they become extortionate and out of the range of working-class people.

When some tenants will have been forced to leave their homes which will then be sold on to the private sector.

That’s what those tenants who voted “Yes” didn’t think of (unless they did and wanted to be in on it!). Or the fact that they might be in the first group of people I described later on in their lives.

The ones who really will suffer from all this: the physical, practical work now. And the ones for whom I speak out.

With them in mind, and having experienced already the horrendous degredation of “regeneration” and developed a phobia against it, I offer this solution...

Before any such action in future, local authorities will:

- build new houses/flats;
- make them available to all those who would rather (or must for health reasons) leave their homes while work being done;
- move those tenants to new properties (giving them the option to stay when previous properties completed);
- carry out work;
- when next estate scheduled for “improvements”, make homes on first estate– now meeting [government] “decent housing” standards - available to tenants on this estate wanting/needing to vacate (if not enough space here, then, again, using newly built homes).

So that you have a leap-frog system in place with all those who really can’t tolerate (i.e. me!) anything louder than a spider climbing up a wall, placed somewhere safe, secure, warm, dry (you know, all those prerequisites for rented accommodation, by law) and conducive to human life.

There, problem solved – except it isn’t! – and end of lecture/panic for now...

DISCLAIMER/P.S. Of course, I am not a politician or lawyer and some of my statements might seem confusing. Please click links so you may be clear.

All I know as a disabled tenant is, the enemy’s gathering forces and there’ll be a bombardment soon.

It’s amazing how something like this can help you empathize with others in the world.

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