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Friday, November 25, 2011

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CASH PLEDGE: Housing Minister Grant Shapps, right, talks to residents Steve and Karen Poole on a visit to Hanley’s City Waterside development. Below, unused land near Balfour Street, Hanley. Picture: Shaun Smith

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£7.2m to flatten our eyesore homes... but housing minister pledges no more cash for building on derelict land like this BY ALEX CAMPBELL alex.campbell@thesentinel.co.uk

MORE than £7 million is to be spent demolishing the remaining homes of residents stranded in Stoke-on-Trent’s housing clearance areas, but there is no cash to build on the flattened land. The £7.2 million will be used to move the final 25 families living among boarded-up homes and then knock down the remaining properties in the 21 affected streets in Hanley, Middleport, Cobridge, Shelton, Fegg Hayes and Meir. Tory housing minister Grant Shapps announced the Government’s £3.6 million cash injection, Stoke-onTrent City Council is matching the amount, during a visit to Hanley’s City Waterside yesterday, but the Govern-

ment is not providing any money to redevelop the flattened streets. It means the areas could be left empty for years before private developers move in to build homes. Eve Maley, who moved to City Waterside after being forced to leave her Northwood home, said: “It’s appalling how these people have been forced to live over the last few years and I have every sympathy for them. “I don’t know what they will do with the empty land, it is vast. It could be like this for years.” Housing renewal quango Renew North Staffordshire was wound up in April, leaving several major projects unfinished. Some families have been left stranded in so-called ghost streets, surrounded by boarded-up houses and with no

guidance on whether they will ever be moved. Mr Shapps yesterday condemned the previous Government’s renewal programme for destroying Potteries communities. He said: “The priority is now getting people out of the abandoned streets. “The renewal programme was a mistake from beginning to end. “Bulldozing communities was never going to be a good idea. It was not just physical homes, it was the communities themselves that were destroyed. “I wish I could wind back the clock and undo that, but I can’t. “What we can do is try to get people out of these ghost streets. “If your street is more than 50 per cent empty, this money is designed to find a solution and make sure you do

not have to live in an abandoned road.” The announcement will bring an end to the plight of 84-year-old great grandmother Beatrice Stanyer, whose Crane Street home is surrounded by empty properties. Mrs Stanyer, who lives with her daughter, said: “We have been burgled and it is frightening. You hear people banging about in the empty houses and it isn’t comfortable anymore.” Councillor Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member for regeneration, who joined Mr Shapps for a tour of some of the regeneration areas, said: “We have been prudent in ensuring match funding is in place to complete schemes.”

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‘IT WAS WRONG TO BULLDOZE WHOLE COMMUNITIES’: SEE PAGE 4

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