Tuesday, April 24, 2007


…On the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Hacienda and the 10th anniversary of its closure, Nigel Pivaro chats to fellow Salfordian legend, Peter Hook, about New Order, the hac, the new Ian Curtis film and life in Langworthy and Ordsall…

Photo by Lyndsey Winnington

In 1970’s Salford there was a lone house standing defiantly amongst the rubble of Ordsall’s demolished streets. This was the Hook family home. Thirty-four years later, in stark contrast, I am sitting in the kitchen of Peter Hook’s fantastically appointed 19th Century cotton magnate’s mansion near Wilmslow. The commodious cooking cum breakfast room is triple the size of the homes of Hooky’s upbringing in Ordsall and Langworthy, and the space and décor befit his expansive physical presence and personality.

This is a man who has been famous, not to say iconoclastic, for thirty years. When one considers Hooky’s contribution to contemporary music and his continued input, there is no sense that the house and the five cars on the drive, are not more than earned. Yet despite the obvious self-recognition of his own achievement and the work ethic behind it, Hooky still takes time to consider his good fortune. And he is not averse to expressing a little guilt for having escaped Chimney Pot Park.

His best mate still lives on Langworthy Road and he genuinely feels for the plight of the families. He is angry on their behalf. He is angry that the place has gone down the pan, incredulous that it was allowed to happen.

“What amazes me is how the place degenerated from when I lived back there in Harmsworth Street” he says “It’s an unbelievable occurrence, where did all those people go?”

He’s also distraught that sometime mutual champagne quaffer, canapé muncher and former club owning (Home) fellow traveller Tom Bloxham has chosen to develop the place for the benefit of wealthy outside professionals. At the expense of his Salfordian brethren.

“I don’t know who I feel sorry for most, Chimney Pot Park or the yuppies...It will be like Assault on Salford Precinct 13” Hooky predicts with ironic mirth “I’ve always thought that if Salford people are with you, you’re rocking, if they’re against you you’re f***ed”.

Peter Hook first rocked with Joy Division in 1977. “We didn’t set out to be rock stars” he explains “We were just naïve lads enjoying ourselves.”

I ask whether it was this same naivety that allowed him and his musical confederates to go along with the Ian Curtis choice of name for their first band. How did they get away with it ?

“Ian got it from a novel The House of Dolls” Hooky replies “He saw it as identifying with the women of the concentration camp brothels, identifying with the oppression of the women of the Joy Division. It wasn’t a celebration of the Nazis, quite the opposite.”
I remember my first few episodes of Coronation Street where they’d written this party scene, asked me what tracks I’d like playing in the background, and I wanted Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division. They came back a bit later and a hapless researcher said that the director wouldn’t allow it because of the name. When I approached the director, a dour Scot, he was nearly apoplectic and started ranting `Not only are these bastards called Joy Division, they then form a new band and call themselves New Order’.

So what was the thinking behind New Order ?

“That was from a newspaper article and it was titled `The New Order of the Khmer Rouge’” Hooky recalls ““We were really impressed with it, and we thought `great, yeah, we’ll call ourselves The Kmer Rouge’ for whatever reason, probably being incredibly drunk and stupid…”

It gets worse, I think to myself...Cambodian mass killers…

“But then we sobered up” he adds “and somebody said `You can’t be called Khmer Rouge’…So Rob Gretton, our manager, ripped the newspaper in half in frustration, threw it on the table and when it landed, there it was, the half with New Order on it. Barney picks it up and says `That’s it, New Order, we’re gonna be called New Order’.

“The alternative was The Witch Doctors of Zimbabwe because that was the headline on the next page, so radio DJs and record sleeve designers should think themselves lucky” laughs Hooky.

The desire to entertain and to provide entertainment for the youth of Manchester led Peter and the band into a 15 year roller coaster of hedonistic masochism with the legendary Hacienda nightclub. The club was opened basically so the band, by then New Order, and its entourage had somewhere to go. Hooky talks of the Hacienda with the reverence of a distantly deceased lover, who provided both pleasure and pain and was ultimately uncontrollable. He’s now pleased that at least the building isn’t some tacky tourist spot.

“At one time Virgin Clubs were bidding to buy it” he says “and I’m glad they never got it because it would have been like seeing your ex girlfriend out with somebody else.”

There is understandable resentment at what happened to the club, how it made millions but inexplicably lost even more money than it generated. Hooky refers to this as a tragedy, not least because it was his and the band’s money that was keeping the club afloat. The debacle of all the mismanaged finances provided one of the stories for the cult film 24 Hour Party People.

“What was earth shattering to me was losing money on every copy of Blue Monday, nobody had bothered to add up the figures and then it turned out to be the biggest selling 12-inch single of all time” he says “It added insult to injury, when people in the audience at the film were laughing about it. I thought `What are you laughing about you bastards? It’s not even funny’. But it was funny because you’d have to be a complete idiot to make one mistake and a complete idiot to make two mistakes…the club and the record…”

And who does Hooky attribute that to?

“Tony Wilson of course, and Rob Gretton and us for letting it happen…crass stupidity” Hooky retorts, gripping a steak knife just a little too tightly “Someone wasn’t concentrating, because they didn’t do the figures right. To survive in a shop or selling newspapers on the corner you’ve obviously got to get your figures right otherwise you’re not gonna survive are you? It was allowed to continue for years because our money was subsidising Factory…”

Hooky is currently writing a book on the history of the Hacienda…

“I was doing the research this morning, was looking at the figures and we worked out what the Hac earned in 15 years…It earned £15 million, mainly in cash, and that’s on top of the money that we put in. And it all disappeared. I mean, where the hell did the money go ? Because nobody went off to Brazil spending it all on charley and hookers. I’d have been quite happy about that. I mean, if Tony or Rob had phoned me up from Rio and said `I’ve got all your money and I’m surrounded by charley and hookers’ I’d have gone `Top lad…great… fantastic…don’t care…good on you’ because I would have probably done it myself if I’d had the chance. But the fact that it was wasted…it’s heartbreaking.”

Despite the amusing imagery, one feels the sap rising as Hooky delivers his monologue at staccato pace. He continues…

“What I hate is that you get very few chances in life and to blow them is a complete waste of time. We were working our balls off, watched our mate die, still carried on, worked hard, toured hard, made good records, earned money and then it just gets wasted...”

He pauses for a second…

“It’s the same as Chimney Pot Park, isn’t it ? Where’s all the money going ? Where’s it gone ? Nobody will tell you…”

I interrupt Hooky to dwell on his astute comparison, and state that when you look at the £88 million that the Housing Market Renewal fund has purportedly spent on Central Salford (basically Langworthy) we’ve got very little for our money. Hooky nods in agreement.

“It isn’t there is it ?” he says “And what really upset me about it was all the information that Salford Star was asking for, that was relevant, they weren’t allowed to have…Someone’s gone `If we give this to them then we’re f***d, that’s our jobs down the line’. You don’t get many who do what Salford Star is doing because normally little people are left to get walked on.”

Despite his reservations about the content of 24 Hour Party People, Hooky is more positive about the new film, Control, based on the novel by Ian Curtis’s widow, Deborah, and due out this summer. He’s seen the finished film and is happy with the overall product and, specifically, his depiction in the movie. The film is directed is by Anton Corbijn, who photographed many of the bands of the late 70s and 80s, including Joy Division. The producers had the benefit of Hooky’s advice on the areas concerning the band. However Deborah was ultimately sidelined from the making of the film.

“She thought she was going to be consulted and in control of it but at the last minute it didn’t happen” he says “Anton just went off and did it himself, she was really pissed off about it.”

So, beyond the obvious shock and sadness at the loss of a friend, does Hooky feel any resentment towards Curtis for committing suicide ? It came, after all, on the eve of what would have been Joy Division’s first US tour. The answer is a genuine `No’…

“It was just a job that we all loved and it was being taken away from us” he recalls “We were all on thirteen quid a week, we didn’t get any beer, there was no excess involved, except for a lack of sleep…”

And the women ?

“There were no women, English girls are not like that, why do you think New Order went to America?” he laughs “The decision to carry on was easy….the kinship that you had with the group, the roadies and the people around you meant that even though Ian was gone the rest of you were still together. It wasn’t like your best mate had died and you were on your own. So even though it was awful we just thought `We’re gonna carry on’. We did worry about replacing Ian because he was so fantastic and unique, but we still had the music.”

27 years on, I ask Hooky to what he attributes the longevity of the band. He half jokingly puts it down to “how easy going” he is, and quickly adds that “you don’t get as much time for murder”. He might have legendary status but this hardly registers with him…”I still have to go out and pick up the dogshit and trail round Sainsbury’s every week”.

This humility is indeed disarming but what is even more touching is his continued connection with Salford and its people, coupled with his concern about what happens to them. Hooky knows first hand the brutality of having his home compulsory purchased for demolition. The family house in Rothwell Street, Ordsall, was the last to be pulled down, and stood defiantly whilst his mother fought the council for a house in Swinton, only to be disappointed by the final offer of Little Hulton. That was at least preferable to Ellor Street flats. Now, deservedly living in his mansion in Cheshire, Hooky’s lived the dream, but how does he view Salford now ?

“I don’t really see a happy ending and I’m very sad about that” he says “To me the strength of Salford has always been its people, and when those people aren’t treated well you haven’t got anything. What I’m concerned about is the massive amounts of money that’s been spent on buildings like the Imperial War Museum, The Lowry, and the BBC thing…but when it comes to looking after people the council can’t seem to get it together….It makes me think I’ll put myself up for election and I’d do better than that…”

Well Hooky if you did, you’d certainly get my vote….

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


We’re being told that if the BBC ever gets to Salford there’s going to be thousands of jobs, loads of training and the city will live happily ever after in its new Blue Peter garden. If it happens that’s great and no-one’s knocking the idea. Trouble is, that the people really pushing for all this say that it’s for the benefit of Salfordians and are, once again, pouring millions of pounds of public money into it.

Yet, at the same time, and before the BBC even confirms it’s coming, the City’s incredibly successful community-centred creative industry is dying on its feet…starved of financial support from Salford Council and all the other agencies and companies that are using `the community’ to lure the London luvies here…

…And Aunty Beeb’s been a bit naughty too – showing her arse to the city while she flees down South…

Watch the promotional film for Salford’s mediacity:uk . It really is inspiring. No, really. It almost brings tears to your eyes. To a cheesy soundtrack there’s lots of happy Salford kids telling everyone how the massive media project is going to benefit them…with little printed promises popping up on screen…`where tomorrow’s talent has the opportunity to learn and the space to dream’…`anyone can succeed’…

Watch it and you’ll believe…believe that this isn’t about real estate opportunities and London luvvies moving into Urban Splash houses in the freshly flattened Langworthy…It’s about “a creative nurturing space” gushes Paul Abbot, creator of Shameless…”It’s about an investment in people” says executive producer, Cat Lewis…”It’s not just a cluster of businesses, it’s an explosion of creativity” enthuses 13 year old Dylan Buckley…

Dylan is a real wannabe actor from Langworthy and a fantastic young talent who originally starred in a short film called Wishful Thinking, the debut movie made by a community centred Salford production company, Looking Glass Films. The mini feature was premiered at the Salford Film Festival two years ago and received immediate national attention.

The year before, at the very first Salford Film Festival, Talking With Angels was premiered starring Dylan’s brother, Stephen Buckley, who was chosen from open community auditions to appear in the short film shot locally and directed by internationally acclaimed film maker and Langworthy lad, Yousaf Ali Khan.

The premiere of Talking With Angels drew so many people it had to be shown twice, while New Order’s Peter Hook played Love Will Tear Us Apart live on stage with Hanky Park in the cinema foyer. Talking With Angels went on to be BAFTA nominated, won countless film festival awards across the world and Stephen Buckley himself was snapped up by Ewan MacGregor’s agent.

If anything promoted Salford as a centre of creativity and “tomorrow’s talent” it was the Salford Film Festival. And this year’s Festival was to be no exception, its highlight a film called Untitled - shot in Salford Lads Club, and made by another successful Langworthy lad, film actor, Stephen Lord. Untitled stars Stephen Buckley, and his brother Dylan is also in the cast. But the film isn’t going to be shown at this year’s Salford Film Festival. The event has been cancelled due to lack of financial support, particularly from Salford City Council.

As the North West Development Agency promises £30million, and Salford council can find £10.5million (plus god-knows-what-else) for mediacity:uk, a concept which hasn’t even been confirmed yet, the Salford Film Festival doesn’t seem to be worth the pittance of twenty thousand quid it needs to give the whole of the city a free festival and showcase all the creative talent that’s here already…community talent, like the Buckley brothers, who are supposed to be the roots of this fantastic mediacity:uk.

It’s a disgrace. Especially when the community is being used to entice the Beeb to the Quays. Hazel Blears, for instance, told top community film makers, REELmcr, that she had personally sent their Salford-made community films, Gas and Air and Madhouse (premiered at the Festival) to BBC director general, Mark Thompson, to support the bid. The Beeb botherers are not just using young local actors and films brought to prominence by the Festival but are also coming out with all kinds of worthy statements about community inclusion…

“It is seen as an important objective to ensure that local people benefit…through jobs, through links to local schools, to community involvement in events…this will be a major objective of the Salford Quays Media City concept…” (submission by Salford City Council and Central Salford URC to House of Lords Select Committee on BBC Charter Review)

Meanwhile, mediacity:uk chief exec, Felicity Goodey, bigging up the bid, told VIPs, including Thompson…”this is a place which is about unlocking talent. There are huge opportunities…it will be a hotbed of creative activity…”

And Salford Council leader, John Merry, told New Start magazine “For young people looking for something to do with their lives this could be a beacon of hope…”

For three years the Salford Film Festival, which was a major catalyst for all these things, struggled on with almost no support from Salford City Council, even though it attracted nearly a million pounds worth of worldwide positive publicity for the city. So this year, with mediacity:uk in the offing and all the grandiose statements, hopes were high for getting the council to put its money where its mouth is…especially as the Festival fits the council’s strategy to “develop a cultural celebration programme that meets the aspirations of the community and raises the profile of the city”…

The result ? A very kind offer of three thousand quid. Not even a cheque for £3000 towards putting the Festival on, but a sum “that will remain within the Salford City Council Tourism Marketing budget…done under the auspices of our 2006 `Events In Salford’ programme” wrote Director of Marketing, Susan Wildman.

As for real financial support from the council for the Festival ? “My colleagues advise that there are a number of more suitable avenues for funding (along the lines of NWArts Board)…”

With no council funding for the Festival there was nothing to promote so this year’s event has been cancelled. Meanwhile Salford council has managed to find £509,178 to underwrite a prestigious two night event for the Manchester International Festival (see The Great Santa Giveaway page), justified because “it would have great synergy with the proposed mediacity:uk”. You work it out…

And there’s more. Web Studios in Little Hulton, the biggest independent studio in the UK and a training ground for all the Salfordian talent that mediacity:uk is supposed to be employing, is up for sale – after the BBC pulled out of two productions at short notice, leaving a huge income gap.

Firstly, the production, New Street Law (starring John Thompson), originally scheduled to shoot three series, has been scaled back after poor ratings. That’s part of the studio game. But another BBC series, the sci-fi comedy Hyperdrive, which was originally shot in Salford and has been re-commissioned, shifted its production base to Chertsey in Surrey. Hyperdrive is commissioned by BBC Comedy North, based in Manchester, thus being part of the Beeb’s out-of-London remit. Chertsey is literally just outside what’s classed as the London boundary and thus counts as `out-of-London’.

It’s a disgrace. Especially when the community is being used to entice the Beeb to the Quays

A spokesperson for the BBC confirmed that “it was felt that the studio in Chertsey was better suited to the production’s needs”. Perhaps that’s because the makers of the programme all live in the South ? Whatever, it’s a massive fingers up to Salford. And says tons about the attitude of Aunty Beeb when she thinks no-one’s looking...

The continuity of Web Studios is vital for any community involvement in mediacity:uk, as it’s providing training and apprenticeships in the industry now, preparing local people to get jobs in everything from constructing sets to working as extras. If the studio gets sold this will almost certainly end. And the future would also be uncertain for the 13 film-related businesses that have located to the studios. If the BBC does come and there are real jobs for Salfordians there’s going to be a huge practical skills gap if Web is allowed to be sold. We’re only talking five years before the media city site is potentially functioning.

You might have thought that Salford council, as a promoter of `beacons of hope’ for young people, would have been falling over itself to support the studio from the start, especially as Web owners Bob Horsefield and Ken Sykes have sunk millions of pounds of their own money into the project, providing hundreds of jobs and opportunities for the local community…
“Verbally, the council has been fantastic” says Bob “In terms of practical support, almost zilch. They gave us £10,000 towards a feasibility study for a film village concept in 1988 which actually cost £98,000. When we asked them for help with funding to build the place they were prepared to give us a woman for a day to help fill a form out from another funding source. I was dead impressed with that. We did it ourselves and got £96,000 but when we sell the studio we have to pay that back, so in real terms we’ve had nothing. We’ve been here 11 years and we’ve had three security grants worth £1040 each.”

Compare this with Elstree Studios where everything from the Star Wars films to the Big Brother series are filmed. Hertsmere Borough Council owns and supports the studio, recognising both the kudos and glamour associated with the place and the jobs it brings for the community. In Salford, mediacity:uk appears to be actually opening up a rival studio at the old `pie factory’ on the proposed site and is attempting to lure BBC productions there. Ironically, mediacity:uk might never have been on Salford’s agenda had Bob not put the BBC North Project (as it was then known) in touch with the council and vice versa.

“I asked them to consider Salford and they had never even heard of the place” he recalls “They didn’t even realise there was a council in Salford.”

Now Bob is having second thoughts about his deeds.

“I might have done Salford a big disservice by suggesting the BBC goes to Salford Quays” he adds “because for all their bitterness about not getting the bid Manchester City Council is a superb proactive council, whereas Salford is the opposite. They don’t support the Film Festival, they don’t support this studio…they do support media city because there’s an element of success and it’s not their money. They just get in on the back of everything.”

So who stands to gain from mediacity:uk ? Obviously the council itself via taxes and rates, Peel Holdings which owns the site, via rentals, leases and possibly land sales…and, certainly, investors, developers and speculators according to a report last summer by the National Association of Realtors, which specifically named Salford’s media city as one of the places that “will provide value proposition for commercial real estate in 2010 – and beyond”.

Benefiting already is Felicity Goodey herself, chief executive of mediacity:uk, who won’t disclose her salary citing `commercial sensitivity’. Felicity Goodey is also a founder director of Unique Communications which develops and produces…tv shows.

So, everybody is going to do well - or is already doing well - out of mediacity:uk…Where does this leave Salfordians ? With a dead, underfunded community film festival…With the community-linked Web Studios on the verge of being sold, partly a result of the BBC’s shift in production to the South…

The huge mediacity:uk project hasn’t even been confirmed yet and already `tomorrow’s talent’ is being starved of opportunities to `learn’ and `dream’.

`Anyone can succeed’ ?

mediacity:uk - what is it ?

mediacity:uk is the proposed 200 acre site on Salford Quays for a new state of the art `city’ housing creative and media industries which is stuff like new technology companies, computer games developers, film makers, production companies etc. The first 36 acres now has planning permission and they’re praying for the BBC to kick off the whole thing by moving some of its operations, like Radio 5, Sport and Children’s, down here from London in 2010, together with shifting its current base from Oxford Road in Manchester. It’s reckoned that 750 BBC staff will move up from London and 750 BBC staff will move from Oxford Road.

No-one’s made their minds up yet because the BBC wants an increase in the tv license fee to pay for the move and the government seems to be telling them to get stuffed. From the current info that the Salford Star has got, we reckon that the move will go ahead but not on the £400 million grand scale that was originally proposed. Our man in the know (‘cos he walks his dog on the field that’s going to be the BBC site) says it’s probably going ahead because he’s already seen them laying huge cables.

mediacity:uk – how much ££££ ?

Peel Holdings (net assets £1.34bn; boss John Whittaker’s est stake £915m) is the main developer for mediacity:uk, and because it is a private company it doesn’t have to divulge anything to the public about the cost of mediacity:uk. There’s a figure of £400 million being banded about but it’s way, way more than that - what we do know is that since Salford became the preferred bidder for the BBC, Central Salford URC has upped its estimate for public and private investment in the city during the next 10 years by well over a billion quid, citing mediacity:uk as the key reason.

The public money going into the project that we know about is £30 million from North West Development Agency and £10 million committed from Salford City Council’s `section 106’ pocket, plus £500,000 to help develop the proposals. Expect a lot more than this coming from the council when the scheme is confirmed. The BBC will be paying leases on the buildings it uses, plus it’s paying for the move which is estimated at just under £400 million. So far, there’s £40.5 million in public money on the table that we know about, but that’s without the URC’s costs etc.

mediacity:uk – what do we get out of it ?

There’s all sorts of figures kicking around and you can believe them or not but all the organisations involved say mediacity:uk will create space for potentially 1,500 businesses and 1,500 `trainee posts’ a year. As far as jobs and financial gain goes, it gets a bit wonky…

Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC, said in a speech to the RSA last March…”The NWDA believes that the new centre will create an additional 4,400 jobs in total and add a further £1.5bn to the regional economy over 10 years.”

When Manchester City Council was bidding for the Beeb it commissioned research which showed 6,600 `high order jobs’ directly plus 1,000 jobs across the city and 1,100 jobs around the north west.

The NWDA itself states officially that mediacity:uk has “the potential to create up to 10,000 jobs and add £170m a year to the regional economy…”

mediacity:uk states officially that there will be “employment opportunities for 15,500 people” and the “creation of £225m a year in additional net value added” (whatever that means)…

The Manchester Evening News is getting carried away completely, citing a figure of “30,000 jobs”


The Salford Film Festival was a showcase for the incredible surge of community made and community inspired films in the city. It was unique because it was a free event open to everyone in Salford and was backed by every legend who has ever come out of the city – Sir Ben Kingsley wrote a poem for it…Albert Finney and Harold Riley financially contributed… Coronation Street creator, Tony Warren, was its patron last year…and Christopher Eccleston, Robert Powell, John Cooper Clarke and Russell Watson all sent personal messages of support.

As community films were shown alongside movies from Salford’s rich cinematic heritage – from Love On The Dole, to A Taste of Honey, to East Is East – the Festival drew international attention, the city was dubbed `Sollywood’ and, at a time when the national media were crucifying the city’s `feral youths’, the event promoted a positive image around the globe. 280 million people saw our kids’ films as the Salford Film Festival got featured on BBC’s World TV.

When a Channel 4 property programme anointed Salford the fourth worst place in England to live last year, the Film Festival was the only good thing they could think of to say about the city, other than the Quays. The Salford Film Festival also got lots and lots of media attention, including the front page of a national newspaper, and was featured alongside all the Hollywood blockbusters on Jonathon Ross’s Film Night. In all, around one million pounds worth of positive publicity for the city was generated by the Festival. Its budget last year was £15,000.

mediacity:uk – who is it ?

mediacity:uk is a partnership between Salford City Council and Peel Holdings, which owns the Trafford Centre, Manchester Ship Canal and virtually everything else. It’s being co-ordinated by Central Salford Urban Regeneration Company (URC) and supported by North West Development Agency (NWDA). The URC is already a partnership made up of Salford City Council and the NWDA, plus English Partnerships.

Meanwhile, the Chief Exec of mediacity:uk is Felicity Goodey, who’s also Chair of the Central Salford URC. Felicity Goodey doesn’t get paid for being Chair of the URC but does get paid lots for being Chief Exec of mediacity:uk, although she won’t tell us how much because that’s “commercially sensitive”

Salfordians want this Festival …and deserve this Festival…

By Mike Knowles, co-founder of the Salford Film Festival and director of Made Up North Productions

I am passionate about the Salford Film Festival. It originally grew out of our short film Talking With Angels. Yousaf Ali Khan and I were keen to put something back into the community where we both worked and where he had grown up (and which had inspired his film). With this in mind we put together an initial training programme around the film and, growing a little more ambitious (and with a view to focusing attention on the region), a festival. That first festival’s success, with over 4000 people attending, was phenomenal and moving, and beyond our wildest expectations. This was something unique and special.

Whilst the broad support for the festival was evident from the first (from both the public and the powers that be), our key aim was always that the event would continue, without the founders if necessary, and take its place and develop from within the community. The focus, therefore, for the second year was simple: to have one member of staff in place to scope the filmmaking activity in the region and to plan for a festival which would highlight this work: showcasing Salford as a centre of excellence and also building links with London, Europe and beyond.

Unfortunately despite jumping through numerous hoops, meeting the great and good and having business plans coming out of our ears, this (financial) support was not forthcoming and, once again, we had to call on favours to make the festival happen. Once again, the people of Salford responded in the droves and voted with their feet (over 4000 people in attendance).

We are now in the fourth year of the festival and, to put it simply, have run out of favours to keep this going. (We are also very very tired and have our real jobs to do!). However, personally I would still love to be a part of a festival which expands to reflect the growth of the city and develops to incorporate TV (and digital) in the wake of the BBC’s planned arrival, but keeps the community heart.

I would still like to think this support is out there but after all this time you do begin to lose faith. I am however a born optimist (a City fan you see) and hope that, in true Hollywood fashion there is a fairy god person out there who will help rekindle the festival and harness the goodwill, energy and vision that remain. And give the people of Salford the festival they so clearly want and truly deserve.

It’s great if the BBC come here but what’s happening to get the community involved ?

by Alison Surtees of Creative Industries In Salford (CRiiS), co founders of the Salford Film Festival, which has its base at Web Studio in Little Hulton.

The Salford Film Festival is so important as it brings everyone together, there’s a real open sense of celebration and it’s fantastic press and publicity for the city. It won’t happen this year because we don’t have enough funding on the table.

The tragedy is that community film making is on the up – we’ve just secured Big Lottery Funding which means we can go out working with young people right across the city. Unfortunately we now don’t have our showcase that really trumpets all this brilliant work and that’s a real concern for me. Yes we can organise individual events but it’s so much more powerful to do one massive event each year – this is a really tragic loss for Salford.

We’ve supported the Salford Film Festival for the last three years and we are always the main sponsor but my role is increasingly getting funding for CRiiS as an organisation, so I’ve not been able to give my full input this year and as a result the Festival is on its knees. We need people not just to talk the talk but to actually come on board. For something that’s had so much publicity and verbal support it shouldn’t be this hard to keep it going – it only takes a small amount of effort to see it get off the ground and really develop. It’s not good enough to say `Yes we support it’ and `What a wonderful idea’…they’ve got to put their money where their mouths are or contribute – it’s too late for this year.

If Web Studio disappears and becomes something else completely then we’re going to lose studio facilities too, and by losing that we’re going to lose direct access in terms of placements, apprenticeships and employment opportunities. All this was very much in the ethos of Bob and Ken when they were developing the project and it’s made it so easy for us to put kids though.
If someone else buys Web as studios we don’t have the links with them so we’re back to square one.

It’s fantastic if the BBC are coming here, but in the interim what’s happening to get the community involved and prepped up, ready to take best advantage of those opportunities? That’s my main concern. In terms of production companies, set design, construction and all those periphery industries then Web Studio is all we have at the moment. And in terms of showcasing all the work, the Salford Film Festival is all we have too. It will be very, very sad to see it all go…

What’s twenty grand from their annual budget ? Take it off The Lowry !

Salfordian film maker, Simon Powell of Looking Glass Films, is exactly the sort of creative person who is supposed to benefit from mediacity:uk. A former popcorn seller at the Red Cinema, he was inspired through the Salford Film Festival to follow his dreams. Unfortunately he’s being denied the opportunity to showcase his latest film at this year’s Festival because it’s cancelled. And he ain’t happy…

The council can go on this bandwagon about media city but when it comes to the grass roots level of people looking to get into or be a part of something that’s creative, such as film, it’s not embraced at all – you think `Well, what’s more important ?’ They should be opening their arms across the spectrum of the industry not just `Let’s get this media city’.

Obviously it’s important and a big thing for Salford but let’s be working with individuals and companies who are working within the industry here and now to show the council’s commitment and feed people’s confidence.

It’s a big, big shame that they can’t support the Salford Film Festival, especially given that it fits the council’s cultural strategy about learning and creativity, and that it fits under the umbrella of regenerating the city, empowering people, developing skills, creating opportunities, be that education, training or work. It’s a great shame that they don’t have the vision to see it...

As a PR opportunity as well the Festival raises the profile of the city. They don’t support it but when it’s really successful they are the first ones to come knocking on the door saying `Can we come and have a chat ?’ They just need to pull their fingers out basically and put £20k into the film festival – what’s twenty grand out of their annual budget ? Jesus Christ – can’t they take it from the Lowry or somewhere ?

The Salford Film Festival should be an annual event, that’s on the calendar and supported properly. My frustration is that the council do see the bigger picture but in order to get to this bigger picture with the Media City thing they are just ignoring and not embracing all the hard work that’s going on now within the community to help raise the profile of this city and give opportunities and work placements to local people.

I’m very passionate about this as we work hard to engage with the community and the Salford Film Festival is something we use as a unique selling point to attract young people from across the city. I’m totally disappointed for them too…

A letter to Salford from Sir Ben Kingsley…

Please don’t let this be the last word on Salford’s Film Festival.

Film festivals are important cultural events that by their very nature bring the beauty, energy, wit, excitement and grandeur of cinema together for a concentrated period of time to a fortunate city and its audience.

We get to mix and mingle with actors, writers, directors, producers, designers, directors of photography, in a unique ambience charged with debate and creativity. A gift to all the community. A thrill. Especially to an environment as rich in promise and diversity as Salford.

I would urge the business and civic leaders; Please don’t let this be the last word.

Ben Kingsley
November 2006

Saturday, August 12, 2006


The Lowry eats up millions of pounds of public money every year but we’re constantly told it’s great for Salford…

So we thought we’d take a closer look…

We follow half a dozen local kids as they attempt to see LS Lowry’s paintings – and get kicked out within two minutes of entering the building…

Then we look at The Lowry’s finances to see who is watching over how the cash is spent…And find all sorts of interesting stuff…


We really, really didn’t set out to trash The Lowry. We were just chatting to a group of lads about Salford and stuff, and we asked if they’d ever been there. `Nah’ they said `They won’t let us in’…

`Don’t be soft’ we said `They’ve got to let you in – it’s a public building, paid for by your parents…of course they’ll let you in…They’re talking all the time about how they want to reach out to `young people in the community’…’

`We won’t last two minutes’ they laughed…

…And so, on a wet Sunday afternoon, six lads from the Whit Lane Estate in Charlestown, with their hoods up - like you do when it’s pouring down - trooped off to The Lowry to see the old man’s pictures…world famous paintings of working class people off similar estates from a bygone era…

We wanted to know how the lads would react to the paintings and to the place itself. Instead we discovered how The Lowry reacted to the lads...

We stuck a hidden microphone on one of them and went in separately with a camera just in case they did get kicked out. The lads walked into the building quietly, looked for signs to the Lowry paintings, got the escalator up to the first floor and started to walk past an information desk into the gallery. They were stopped…They’d been in the building for less than two minutes.

Here’s what the tape picked up, unedited…

Man on desk: You can’t go in

Lad 1: Why? I want to see the pictures

Man on desk: You can’t go in

Lad 2: Why…why can’t we just see the pictures ?
Man on desk: Because I’m not letting you in, that’s why

Lad 2: Why…what have we done ?

Man on desk: I can get security if you want

Lad 3: We’ve not done nothing

Member of the public with his kids: Is this the Lowry show here – can I go in ?

Man on desk: Yes you can go in – just turn in there.
Lad 1: What have we done – we haven’t done nowt
Man on desk: Come on lads
Lad 2: How come we can’t go and see the pictures – what’s so wrong about us ?
Man on desk calls security: I’ve got a group up here
Lad 3: Why can’t we see the pictures ?
Man on desk: Because you can’t – I don’t have to have an argument with you…you just can’t
Lad 1: Give us a reason
Man on desk: I don’t need a reason
Lad 1: All we want to do is see the pictures – give us a reason

Man on desk: I don’t have to give you a reason
Lad 5: Why ? Everyone else is going in…why can’t we ?

Security man comes…: Leave the building
Lad 6: Why ?
Security man 1: Just leave the building will you
Lad 1: Why ?
Security man 1: You’ve been asked nicely
Lad 1: Why have we got to leave ? We haven’t done nowt – we’ve come to watch…
Security man 1: Watch what ?
Lad 1: Whatever’s going on…
Security man 1: There’s nothing going on – it’s all organised activities, not for the public…
Security man 1: ushers them down the escalator

Lad 3: What are you pushing me for ?

Security man 1: I was telling you not to run – just get out the building

Lad 6: Did he grab you ?

Security man 1: I did not grip him I just said do not run

Lad 6: You just grabbed him

Outside, in the entrance to The Lowry two security guards make sure the lads don’t try to get back in. We start asking questions with another hidden microphone…

Why can’t these lads go in ?

Security man 2: Once we have a word with the management I can explain why

Lad 1: I want a complaint form

Lad 2: We just got kicked out for no reason at all…I want a complaint form

Security man 2 : We have to work on orders.
Security man 2: notices we’re taking photos…

Security man 2: Can I point something out – for a start you don’t know what goes on – people like this come in and trash the place, they run around screaming their heads off, annoying the public…

Lad 1: We didn’t do anything

Security man 2: I wasn’t talking to you
Security man 2: We act on orders, that’s all I can tell you. That’s all I’m doing.

A bloke who had seen what went on had been to see the manager to complain that the lads had been kicked out for doing nothing…He comes out of the building…
Bloke: I was taking my sons to see the paintings and as we walked in I was behind this group of lads. As they approached reception they were stopped from going in and there was a little bit of an argument and I heard the management say they couldn’t come in. He said I could go in and then security came along and ejected them which I thought was totally inappropriate.

I went and asked the manager what was going on – he said there was a group of guys with hoods on – I said I was there when they said they’d take their hoods off and he said it doesn’t matter they’re still not coming in… I told him it was a council funded organisation and he explained to me that it was a charity and not a council funded project. He didn’t have any answers…

Basically they were local lads coming in to look at the pictures on Sunday afternoon because they were bored stiff and they were denied access to a facility in Salford which we’ve been told is open to everyone. It’s an absolute disgrace…

Afterwards we chat to the six lads again about their experience at The Lowry…

Josh: I knew they were going to kick us out straight away, because we are a local group.

Would you ever go back ? Carl: No, because it’s rubbish

What did you think about The Lowry’s attitude towards you ?
Kane: It was really bad, just because we had our hoods on.
Rees: They said it wasn’t open to the public and it was.

Do you get treated like that all the time? Rees: It happens everywhere

Do your parents pay council tax that funds The Lowry ? Carl: Yes – they shouldn’t have to pay towards it if we’re not allowed in.
Do you feel like you’re discriminated against ?
Anthony: Yes – just because we wear black…

The six lads head off to find somewhere else to go. The sad thing is that they expected this reaction from The Lowry. And The Lowry - despite all its big statements and statistics about reaching the community - lived down to those expectations. Its image problem amongst ordinary Salfordians continues…

We ask The Lowry to comment about kicking innocent local kids out of the building, plus things like how the company perceives its image in Salford and some details of how it tries to make itself sexy to the local community… The Lowry didn’t seem to be impressed with what they called our `stunt’…

We have talked to the member of the galleries reception staff concerned who told us that he saw an unusually large group of 8 or 9 young people [err, it was actually six] approaching the galleries all wearing clothing which obscured their faces [yep, they’re called hoods – it was pouring down]…He made a judgement call, which was possibly an error, that this situation could be disruptive to other people’s enjoyment of the exhibitions, so asked them to leave the galleries.

“Although it is our policy to welcome everyone into the building, he believed he was acting in the best interests of other visitors to The Lowry gallery. This is an unusual situation as we welcome thousands of visitors every week to our theatres, galleries and to our wide-ranging programme of participatory activities without incident [...there wouldn’t have been an `incident’ if they’d let them in…the `incident’ was created by The Lowry’s staff, we think].”

We were also sent a whole barrage of statistics showing the great work The Lowry does with schools and the community…`70% of participants in The Lowry’s community projects are from Salford’…`4 of the top 10 postcodes of people taking part in community projects are from Salford’…We’re sure this is all fab and true but independent researchers tell a slightly different story…

The General Public Agency (GPA) is a top nob creative consultancy whose clients include the Arts Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Just over a year ago they were asked to comment on a major government report called Culture at the Heart of Regeneration - and used The Lowry as an example of how it shouldn’t be done…
The GPA’s response to the government stated `…Statistics (internal Lowry Community and Education Team figures) show that the participants in the Lowry’s subsidised children’s creative workshops are mostly driven in from beyond Salford (from Manchester and the Cheshire market towns)…There are no direct public transport links between the Lowry and Salford centre. This is a powerful indication of the absence of a true commitment to engaging with the local community.’

The local watchdogs in all this, you might expect, would be Salford Council which last year gave the Lowry just over £2.5 million (£677,000 for `outreach services to schools and residents’; £250,000 `annual contribution’ and a one-off grant of £1,576,000 which nobody understands apart from the Council’s accountants who say it didn’t really happen…).

The Council, which gives The Lowry vast amounts of our money, is supposed to check how that money’s being spent though the Lowry Committee. But the public will never know how this is being done because we’re excluded from attending under `section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972…as specified in Paragraph 7 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act.’ Yeah, whatever…

All we get to know about the incredibly in-depth grilling, lasting a whole 40 minutes (one committee meeting lasted just five minutes), is that the Financial Update and report on community activities are `noted’. And that’s it. That’s your public accountability. So we’ve had to do it ourselves.

Now, we’re not accountants, and forgive us if we’re thick and get everything wrong but we waded through nearly 60 pages of The Lowry’s accounts and found some stuff which we think people might like to know...

First of all, The Lowry has three companies – The Lowry Centre Trust, which is a charity; and two subsidiary companies, The Lowry Centre Limited, which runs its commercial activities, and The Lowry Centre Development Company which sorts out The Lowry’s building. Not one single person who is a director of any of these companies (apart from a couple of councillors who sit on the board of the Trust but more about them later…) actually lives in Salford – they all live in places like Hampshire, London, Bowdon and Plymouth. The Chief Executive and Director of two Lowry companies, Julia Fawcett, lives in Gatley, Cheshire.

In the year ended 31st March 2005, the directors took £380,810 in fees and what are called `emoluments’ (benefits, expenses, pension etc) and the highest paid director at the Lowry Centre Ltd got £127,596. The Lowry companies’ last total recorded retained losses stood at £7,677,594.

Salford Council gives its money (£2.5 million last year) to the Lowry Centre Trust but doesn’t formally tell the Lowry how to spend it. It hands the grant over as an `unrestricted fund’, whereas, say, the North West Development Agency gives its grant as a `restricted fund’ which states exactly what the money’s to be spent on. The Council states that £677,000 is specifically for community and education work but the Lowry Trust’s accounts only show £269,000 being spent on the operation of its `community and education’ services. Are we missing something here ?

…Meanwhile, the finances flowing between the three different Lowry companies start to get really complicated (skip this bit if you’re bored), and even the Trust’s trustees seem to be questioning what is going on. It appears that the Trust has given an interest free loan of nearly £77 million to its commercial Development Company and the trustees “are considering the extent to which this loan relates to non-charitable expenditure” (Notes to the Accounts Year ended 31 March 2005). The objects of the charity include promoting the advancement of education and fostering appreciation and knowledge of the arts. And the subsidiaries are expected to fulfil these objectives…

…But The Lowry Development Company has been involved in property speculation, taking a 50% investment in the loss making (as at 31st March 2005) Digital World Centre across the plaza from The Lowry itself. The Development Company has given the Digital World Centre a huge unsecured loan (the balance of which stood at £1,800,000 on March 31st 2005) `which is waived if it is not recovered within two years of full occupancy of the World Digital Centre’.

Unsecured loans ? Interest free loans ? Possibly` waived’ loans ? The Lowry relies on millions and millions of pounds of public money to keep it afloat. We believe it’s right to question The Lowry’s activities. In fact we’d expect the council as our elected representatives to be doing this for us - it’s called democracy, accountability, value for money and stuff like that.

So we asked leader of Salford City Council, John Merry, to explain …

“We nominate three trustees who sit on the board of the Lowry Centre Trust” he beams “But they do have a duty to act in the best interests of The Lowry as a trustee rather than as a normal member of the council.”

In other words, the Council has watchdogs on The Lowry’s board but they act in the best interests of The Lowry rather than Salford people.

The reason the public are excluded from the Lowry Committee meetings, Merry says, is that the information is commercially sensitive and has to be kept from rival theatres but acknowledges that “it is a difficulty”. Instead we have to rely on what he calls “informal briefings…which don’t appear in the minutes”…

”We don’t tell them what to do with the money but they have to account to us how they’ve spent it in terms of community activity so they can’t spend it on, say, cups of tea for themselves…and I’m happy with that” he adds “There is no direct control.”

What about 54% of the total arts budget going to The Lowry while public entertainment gets a mere 0.8% ?

“Yes it is a hell of a lot” he decides “But we do make a substantial contribution to other events – the Triathalon, for example, and November 5th…”

He struggles to think of any more…

“…We actually feel that we get good value for money from The Lowry” he insists “It’s a different sort of money we’re putting in, in the sense that we’re trying to create a prestige venue that is going to reflect back on Salford – and that’s a judgement we’ve had to make in terms of priorities…”

And does he think that Salfordians would agree with those priorities ?

“I think we can possibly talk about how we can improve our community profile, I accept that” he says.

What about the ticket prices ? The Lowry does give discounts for Salford residents for its fringe stuff – but not for the popular shows and concerts, the prices of which are beyond many average household incomes in the City…

“If you subsidise those ticket prices still further then The Lowry would make an even bigger loss…the whole place would go bust” he argues “I think The Lowry would point to a whole host of things they do in terms of community involvement…and one of the other things we’ve done is to actually subsidise things like the Bolshoi Ballet for people from Salford to attend…I understand there were tickets for the Saturday afternoon…that’s been an additional sponsorship, I think £50,000…but the point we’re making is that it promotes the name of Salford as well…what we’re trying to do is promote the idea of culture in the city and it’s not for posh people.”

What about restricting community entrance – like chucking out local kids who have come to see LS Lowry’s paintings ?

“I would say `What’s your evidence ? If you pass on to me your evidence I will take it up with the Chief Executive of The Lowry. That should not happen…But what people should realise is the tremendous positive value of The Lowry for Salford. Are you trying to say that our money is not well spent ?”


The Lowry’s Quays Theatre was chosen as the venue for the world premiere of a major comedy film, Fameless, funded by Charlestown and Kersal NDC and made right in the centre of Salford’s regeneration area, starring many members of the local community. The cast arrived for their big night in a series of limos, dressed in formal evening wear, only to be ushered in via a side door. They were denied access to the main entrance.

“When I arrived at the venue I was really disappointed at the fact that we couldn’t use the front door” recalls Chris Lysaght, star of the film and a pupil at Albion High School “In the limos we all felt like stars, but then when we arrived at The Lowry we were shuffled to the side, which made me feel as though we weren’t as important as we felt.”


Jo, a local mum and her friend, Margaret, wanted to take their sons and a few friends to see The Gruffalo over Easter. They booked two adult tickets and five kids’ tickets.

“The online booking system wasn’t working at all so I had to pay £1.50 per ticket to book over the phone, and even had to pay the fee four times for one family of four ticket, adding £13.50 booking fee to the total bill which was expensive enough to start with” she recalls “It is such a rip off. I asked if I could have a discount as a Salford resident and they said it was only for ‘certain shows’. When I asked what shows, it seemed to boil down to ‘educational activities’ which probably means 10p off a £1 colouring session…

“They even tried to flog me theatre parking at a mere £3.50 per car when everyone knows you can park for free if you buy something from the Shopping Mall. The show only lasted about an hour and cost a fortune. I hate going there…”

Check out the audio slideshow


Friday, August 11, 2006


They loathe Franz Ferdinand so much they’ve actually written a song about executing the Glaswegian rock band. The Permissive Society wear their opinions on their songs. Photo by Karen Mcbride

“I just hate the fact that rock is considered amusing…and everything has to be a parody and pastiche…and that it’s all a joke, because it never was” says Permissive’s songwriter and guitarist, Joe Parkinson “Rock music just has to affect people because that’s what rock music does…”

The Permissives play rock that’s organic, shot through with home town Salford but kissing the world. For an idea of the sound, think The Kinks dunked in the Irwell for a few days and left to dry out in Shaun Ryder’s head. It certainly impressed Madonna and Aerosmith svengali, Seymour Stein, who saw the four-piece band at In The City and asked to be kept in touch.

“He was really into it” says Joe “Live, we’re really energetic and challenging because our singer, Sean, is completely nuts. He likes to break down that divide with the audience. We do get quite a following through our live antics and it’s definitely growing.”

The Permissive’s profile picked up previously when they opened Mick Rock’s photography exhibition at Urbis, and became an on-stage fixture for two weeks at Contact Theatre using their songs as a soundtrack for the anti-play, Grace. The band have also packed out smaller Manc venues like Charlie’s, The Roadhouse and Night and Day. Now they are in the studio making demos, some of which are on line at www.myspace.com/thepermissivesociety Check out tracks called Fighting Crime and On The Mend to hear what the Permissives are all about. It’s rock music that affects.

Check www.thepermissivesociety.co.uk for further details.


We asked Permissive Society guitarist and songwriter, Joe Parkinson, to write his thoughts on where Salford’s at…

What would you do to regenerate a city? I mean, how would you start? It’s a tall order and the answers they’re coming up with don’t seem to make sense to me. I think that coming from Salford has influenced me and permeates everything I write because it’s that kind of city.

I don’t think that the Lowry Centre and upside down houses do it justice and it’s going to take more than that to regenerate the place for everybody who lives here. What Salford needs is its pride back and it’s a place people should feel proud of coming from.

The arts should play an important part in how the city is perceived and it has already been the subject of numerous films, plays and songs. From Dirty Old Town to A Taste of Honey it has always been a bittersweet area of the north for creative people to try and capture. That is something to be proud of and if people felt that connection it would benefit everybody.

Music more than anything is at its best when the people making it are trying to make sense of their surroundings and document their lives. Strikes and political unrest created punk, Thatcherism created The Smiths and a plethora of eighties bands were spurred on in opposition to the Iron Lady.

The reason I loved Shaun Ryder so much when I was young was because I recognised the images he conjured up from my own life. The first album, Squirrel and G-man was one of the only things that made living in Swinton bearable; he got pissed off waiting for the same taxi firms I did…`Get no taxi, get no Radio Car…’. He proved you could do it, that you could get out there and make a difference. He made me proud to be me.

I am inclined to enjoy something more if it’s about, from or making a difference to Salford. I love watching the Salford Symphony Orchestra, I love John Cooper Clarke whose words echo every experience I had growing up. Why aren’t his writings on the school syllabus for every child in Salford? Local history and culture fascinated me as a child because I was fortunate enough to have my granddad who evoked wonderful images from the city’s past. That’s what needs to be bestowed upon everyone in every area, a sense of their own history.

I spoke to fellow musician Adam Leishman from a band called Suzuki Method, a Salford-based collective, about the image of Salford and what needs to be done to change and regenerate things.

“I think the whole Salford image is really coming to a head at the moment and needs to be addressed quickly” he said “A lot of bands have proved what a powerful tool music can be in terms of promoting change, and it really has to come from the people of Salford. I mean, the majority of kids in Salford don’t really give a shit about creating or being part of anything challenging musically or artistically, what with `artists’ like 50cent doing the rounds at the minute. I don’t think there’s any sign at the moment of that individuality returning, but it’s sorely needed.”

Recognising and celebrating talent from Salford must be a priority. Mike Leigh, John Cooper Clarke, Albert Finney, Chris Eccleston, Shaun Ryder - the list goes on and every one of them carries a bit of that elusive Salford sprit with them.
It’s not about regenerating a building, turning it into flats, throwing an impenetrable fence around it and attracting people from outside the city to live in a self contained fortress. That creates divisions and problems in communities. Nor is it about how many coffee shops or new shopping centres there can be.

It’s about us regenerating ourselves, our attitudes and being proud that we come from Salford. It’s about fulfilling the future by appreciating the past and the things people have given us to document our times, whether it’s Saturday Night Sunday Morning or The Smiths video, I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish, filmed around the streets of Ordsall. They are our history and we are an artistic city…and we don’t just have the Lowry to tell us that…


Ex Langworthy lad, Christopher Eccleston,
celebrates Salford’s roots, style and struggles…

…We’re talking Salford and its radical roots and Christopher Eccleston’s in full flow about how the spirit of his home city permeates virtually everything he does…

“…even down to making the Doctor, who was traditionally an aristocratic authority figure, sound like someone from Salford…” he explains “I’ve not just gone off and done `entertainment’ – I’ve done Hillsborough…I’ve done Our Friends In The North…I’ve done Second Coming…I’ve done Flesh and Blood…stuff that to a certain extent has a political content and that comes directly from Salford…”
He reflects for a moment…
“…and from a sense that I’ve been fortunate enough to run away with the circus, which is basically what I’ve done, so I’d better put something back…”

Christopher Eccleston might have run away with the circus but he’s taken Salford attitude with him. What he’s putting back is the notion that you can be from here and get to the top without compromising, without having to lose everything that you’re about. In the celeb obsessed world where the only message coming from yer Waynes and Coleens is `SHOP!’, with Christopher Eccleston you get a bit of integrity, a bit of realism. Although seen on tv and film with the likes of Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman and an assortment of Daleks, he’s on the same wavelength as the rest of us. And it’s a very, very Salfordian wavelength.

He talks about having the city’s key values instilled into him by his family – a “sense of community”…”covering each other’s backs”…”not taking yourself too seriously”…”good manners”…”hard work” and “a healthy disrespect for authority”…

“…I think all those things I picked up from my parents and they manifest themselves in the community too, which is where expressions like `You can always tell a Salford lad, but you can’t tell him ‘owt’ come from…Dating right back to the Industrial Revolution, Salford’s always been a tough place to live and I think it’s encouraged a sense of community because everybody economically was in the same bracket, and a strong sense of humour sprung up in order to deal with those quite difficult physical conditions.”
Like Liverpool ?
“Yeah but far better” he sneers, adding that there’s no chip on Salfordian shoulders

“…The middle classes call it a chip, yet if we refer to them as having a poker up their arse they get upset. It’s not a chip, it’s just a sense of place and a sense of belonging. I never thought of myself as coming from Manchester, that was somewhere else. Salford was here before Manchester and is a city in its own right that has a distinct flavour to it.”

And, of course, virtually everything that’s credited with coming out of Manchester actually comes from Salford…

“Yeah” he agrees “The relationship between Manchester and Salford is fine as long as they understand that they’re not as important as us. About ten years ago there was an attempt to wipe Salford off the map and absorb it into Manchester. Quite rightly that was opposed and didn’t come about.

“If I say to an American I’m from Salford they’re like `Sa-a-a-lf-u-rd, where’s that ?’ and you have to unfortunately say it’s near Manchester. But when you start reeling the names off…Lowry, Riley, Finney, Leigh…they’re like `Ok’ and then they have this idea that it’s some sort of northern Hampstead…or some bohemian paradise…”

It was Salford’s stars of the big screen who inspired Christopher Eccleston to get into acting and helped to smooth the path to a career that was previously the preserve of the posh…

“When I started telling my family that I was going to be an actor the jokes would come out…`Oh bloody hell, another Albert Finney’…but in the 80s when I was applying for a grant to do acting it was made easier because of all the people who had gone before like Finney and Mike Leigh” he recalls
“Finney is very quick to say he’s from Salford and not Manchester. So that desire to establish an identity and have something to say about the world has always been there in Salford…

“…Sir Ben Kingsley is doing a very unSalfordian thing at the moment by insisting people call him `Sir’…Albert Finney famously turned down a knighthood and said `I would never call anyone `Sir’ myself and I certainly never expect anyone to call me `Sir’…and then you’ve got Ben Kingsley doing that…very odd…I’ll have to check his Salford credentials…”

For Christopher Eccleston there was never any danger of losing his Salford credentials, even though the family moved in the 60s from Langworthy to Little Hulton, technically in Salford but nearer to Bolton.

“I was thinking about this last night” he says “I grew up thinking `We’re not from here’ because of all the talk in the house – my brothers were eight when they left Salford and my mum and dad were in their thirties and there was always a sense that although we were happy there we didn’t quite belong.

“There was a tension between what we Salford people called the `Little Hulton Gobbins’ and what they called the `Salford Overspill’. They were a little bit snobbish about it – so I grew up in this house that was basically Salford in Little
Hulton and when we had to do anything family wise we’d go back to Salford – my mum even took me to the dentist in Salford because she was happier with the dentists there…”

The original Eccleston family home on Blodwell Street off Langworthy Road, where Christopher was born in 1964, is now boarded up and about to be knocked down as part of the Chimney Pot Park makeover…

“To a certain extent it’s inevitable” he says “Salford’s been torn down once before when the `streets in the sky’ (towerblocks) were put up and we’ve seen they didn’t work. I did a drama Our Friends In The North which dealt with all that quite strongly. But it depends on what they replace it with and how mindful they are of the communities living there and what kind of living conditions it’s going to present…”
Err, yuppy houses ?
“Yeah, that’s kind of the idea I’m getting really. That seems to be the way everywhere’s going. I’m not going to get on my soapbox because I don’t know enough about it really but you can’t destroy Salford’s sense of itself. Obviously it’s a tragedy if the communities are pushed out for yuppies and it’s wrong.”

Unlike upwardly mobile creative Mancs, most of whom fled to Brighton once they made it, Christopher Eccleston still lives in Salford - “in Eccles, the posh bit” - and hasn’t forgotten his roots after running away with the circus all the way to Hollywood at one point. He’s put something positive back into the city by narrating Past, Present and Future, a promo DVD about Salford’s internationally acclaimed Working Class Movement Library.

“I’d passed the building many, many times as a youngster without going in but when I found out about the content of the place and the story of the people who built it up it was a revelation to me, I was amazed” he enthuses ”They showed me the film first which I think is a cracking piece of work, and anything that goes to further the interest of the working classes who basically built this country is important to me, so I was happy to help.

“I don’t think enough people know of the Library’s existence and that was one of the ideas behind the film and one of the reasons why I wanted to do the narration” he adds “There couldn’t be a better home for the Library than Salford because Salford embodies the struggle of the working classes, doesn’t it ? It’s witnessed every stage of it, from the filth of the Industrial Revolution down to the destruction in the Eighties by Thatcher and…”
Now the yuppyfication ?
“Now the yuppyfication, yeah…”

Free loan copies of Past Present Future: The Working Class Movement Library DVD, written and directed by John
Crumpton and narrated by Christopher Eccleston, are
currently available from the Working Class Movement Library – contact 0161 736 3601 or e-mail enquiries@wcml.org.ukm


She may be well known as Veronica in Shameless but MAXINE PEAKE is no poncy actress putting on an accent. Here she writes about how the Working Class Movement Library touches all our lives…

The Working Class Movement Library is a fantastic place with a world famous archive but I worry that even people in Salford don’t know about it. I’ve mentioned it in conversation and a common reply is `What, a Working Class Movement Library…Where’s that ?’ It’s that beautiful black and white imposing building on The Crescent.

The Library contains the history of the struggle of our people and we must never forget that. It’s the history of what made Manchester and Salford the cities they are, built by the toil of the workers. I think people should really be made aware that the Library is there and that they can go and chart their past.

My grandfather was in the Communist Party and he’s still very political – he tells me stories about the struggles and the demonstrations when he was working at Leyland Motors. Maybe I’ve got a slight romanticism about it but people had such a passion then – for their rights, for self education. We should keep alive the notion that we do have power if we use our strength as a unit…But it does seem all too clear we’ve come to the end of an era. People have got very apathetic about politics - which doesn’t surprise me with those who, unfortunately, we’ve got in power.

I look at people like my grandfather who’s fought all his life and now in his later years is living in a society that is probably in a worse state than he ever imagined possible – we may have better technology and easier ways to purchase the so called desired material goods but I believe that the conditions some people are living in have reverted back to Victorian times. There’s been a week of debates recently at the ICA in London about the British working class and its existence. Today, people seem loathe to being given the label, although we’ve developed an underclass that is being viciously ignored.

People just don’t think they’ve got a voice any more. Thatcher would be absolutely delighted with the way we’ve all turned out…this `me culture’. Blair’s taken that on and it’s blossomed. I thought we wouldn’t be stupid enough as a country to let this happen but we have.

The anti war demos gave a glimmer of hope that we might become more politicized, with huge attendances and children skipping school to take part. Hopefully these young people will be the politicians of the future. I remember being their age thinking I would have witnessed some kind of revolution by the time I was 18!

I think the popularity of Paul Abbott’s Shameless is that it has a warmth and a deep rooted humanity against all odds. It’s a portrayal of the working class of today. There’s a sense of hope. No one in Shameless is without hope. The sense of community is very strong and that’s what seems to strike a chord. We’re bombarded with bleak views of the working class and Shameless kicks against that, as it’s based on truth and Paul’s own experiences

There’s fear from the government in this country about that group mentality. In Salford, first the terraced housing went, then the flats went up and now they’re saying `Let’s regenerate again’…I’m convinced it’s a conspiracy to keep the community apart – throughout the years regeneration has been about trying to destroy the heart of the community.

It’s exactly what they’ve done in London – you look at many areas of London that have become flooded with fashionable loft apartments and fiercely overpriced property – the locals are having to move further and further back – they take it all…developers destroy the heart of places…it’s just about money isn’t it ? They don’t care.

I worry about the Working Class Movement Library – that because it is such a beautiful building the developers are going to try to get their hands on it. We must fight for its survival. It should always be there. It’s ridiculous that at some point they were considering closing it down, to turn it, I imagine, into some soulless luxury dwellings.

Between the ages of 19 and 21 I was in the Communist Party and although I’m from Bolton, Salford was the nearest branch and we used to have meetings at the Working Class Movement Library. Then recently Oxfam’s Control Arms campaign got in touch and asked if I would join their petition which is using photographs instead of signatures and anyone can be involved. Oxfam wanted me to choose somewhere locally that meant something to me and it was actually my friend Pawlo who suggested the Library because of my time there. And it brought me back to this incredible place.
Even though the unions and the movements that working people were a part of aren’t what they used to be, we mustn’t forget that struggle. All the literature, pamphlets and banners that the Library contains have to be preserved – it’s part of our history and our future. The more people who are made aware of it, the better…

The Working Class Movement Library, Jubilee House, 51 The Crescent is open Tues, Thurs and Fri 10am-5pm, Wed 10am – 7pm and the third Saturday of each month 10am-5pm.
For further details call 0161 736 3601
Or check out the web site: www.wcml.org.uk

...It's Legend Time

Salford’s greatest ever literary export, John Cooper Clarke, comes home with a Beezley bullet… Words Stephen Kingston Photos by Lyndsey Winnington

The sun’s out. And John Cooper Clarke is sat on an upturned plant pot admiring the trees in his best mate/manager’s garden somewhere in deepest Crumpsall.

“I used to think trees were dirty” he ponders “because when I was a kid in Salford you’d climb them and come off filthy, it was like you’d been up a chimney…And even if you got a stretch of park you just had to scrape the grass and there were, like, cinders underneath…it was horrible…”

John Cooper Clarke took that overwhelming sense of grime that skunked up the 70s city and used it to tell the world about the Salford experience. In the process he reinvented poetry. Took it out of its poncy parameters and spat it down the ears of a massive new young audience. Here was a bloke with over spiked hair, shades and leather jacket, getting up at punk gigs, machine-gunning words about stuff that everyone recognised, in an accent that couldn’t be missed. It was funny. It was clever. It was hard edged. And it rhymed.

The ultimate John Cooper Clarke creation was `uneasy, cheesy, greasy, queasy, beastly Beezley Street, a place `where the perishing stink of squalor, impregnates the walls...’ and where everyone’s `common problem is that they’re not someone else’. In line with the times, the poem has been regenerated, is now called Beezley Boulevard, and, fittingly, its first Salford performance will be at The Lowry in September.

“A poetry programme on Radio 4 asked me to do Beezley Street but no-one particularly wants to hear that again” John explains “So I thought I’d re-write it, give it a makeover – like what happens to neighbourhoods. I just tarted the place up.”

The `tarted up’ Beezley Boulevard becomes this sterile pretentious place; an `urban splash art ghetto’, with `pubs where all the regulars are barred’. Basically, every line encapsulates everything that makes normal people puke at the thought of `loft living’ and `urban bases’. Regeneration is reviled as `regime change’. And fiftysomething John Cooper Clarke proves that in the 21st Century he’s still the most potent people’s poet on the planet.

He’s a mega poet who’s now on the school curriculum, in all the Proper Poet books and hey, gets invited to do stuff on Radio 4’s `Bespoken Word’. But the last thing John goes on about is poetry or the poetry circuit…”I did one or two things in libraries and stuff but it’s horrible, it’s not entertainment”. Or what inspires his poetry – “Couldn’t tell ya, if I knew I’d tap into it and do a lot more…” No. When you’re talking John Cooper Clarke you’re talking rock n roll. Full stop. He started off performing in the steaming pits of punk and the sentiments have never changed.

After 20 years of performing the same material – “I think I carried it to a ridiculous degree” - John hooked up again with his old mate, Blue Orchids founder and ex Fall and Nico guitarist, Ricky Goldshaw, who originally got him onto the punk circuit. He’s now handling John’s affairs and things have started to move forward again. It’s like the fun’s coming back. Just before Joe Strummer died they were touring with the Mescalaros, and John’s recently supported The Fall and been a compere for Chuck Berry, of all people, in Spain.

“He was on at the Opera House with Jerry Lee Lewis, we went down and, I don’t know, we sort of hit it off with Chuck somehow” says John “I’m like `Who does he think I am, Ronnie Wood ?’ I’ll be it. In fact we went the full Rolling Stones in Spain and I got into the Keith persona because you’re entitled to wear a bandana there, it being sweaty and that, so we had the time of our lives.

“Chuck is fantastic, great to watch, even when he’s just going through the motions” he adds “It’s a shame that My Ding-a-ling is the high point of his act but he really is great.”
In Ricky’s back garden the duo come on like a quick fire double act, prompting each other with stories of strange Salford characters, mad experiences on the road and exciting plans in the pipeline. Ricky’s piling demos onto the CD player featuring John’s voice ranging all over the place from trance tracks to funked up sonatas and hard rock rhythms. One of them is a forthcoming single called Dead Man’s Shoes, made with Sheffield rockers, Reverend and the Makers, who supported Arctic Monkeys on their last tour. Cooper Clarke can still cut it with the kids.

His work was brought to a new generation last year when someone wrote and performed a biographical play but the pair blocked it going any further than the Kings Arms in Salford. They weren’t impressed.

“It was going to tour around the country but it was rubbish” says Ricky “We tried to talk to them but then we lost our rag and said `take it off, you’re not having the material’...”
“My mum was called Brenda in it…her name was Hilda” John adds “And there was all this explanatory dialogue `Oh he’s been smashing since he’s had TB’. It was an excuse for him to put on a nylon wig and do my stuff…No, I didn’t go and see it…”

Instead, with Ricky’s help, John Cooper Clarke is trying to reinvent himself. There’s the music tracks. And there’s a stack of new poems. But it’s hard.

“I asked someone after The Fall gigs how it was and they said `Just the same as ever’” Ricky recalls “`But they were all new poems’ I said `What do you want, he’s a f***ing poet ?’”
John looks through his rose-tinted shades, smiles with a gob full of golden teeth, and his usual self-depreciating manner changes just a notch…

“It’s a poem. You speak it” he argues “What can you do – stick a brush up your arse and sweep the floor at the same time ?”

With Beezley Boulevard he’s just done the literary equivalent of that…The legend lives on…
John Cooper Clarke plays The Quays Theatre at The Lowry 4th & 5th September
A full archive of John’s work is at www.johncooperclarke.com

Thursday, August 10, 2006


BBC…BBC ? Don’t mention the BBC in Seedley or Langworthy. Half an hour after the decision was announced to possibly locate the Beeb’s new site on Salford Quays we were in the area. And people fighting the demolition of their houses were almost in tears. “That’s it” they said “They’re going to take our homes.”

Then we got a call from North West Tonight asking editors of the Salford Star to go on the programme talking about how great this would all be for everyone. We politely declined.

No matter what anyone says, the regeneration of Salford is now being perceived by its people as
a battle for the future heart and soul of the city. And its front line flashpoint is Langworthy and Seedley.

Are the Urban Splash upside down houses being built for the current community? Or are they future commuter homes for young professionals working on the Quays ?

£88 million pounds of public and private money is going into Seedley and Langworthy. People’s homes all over the area are being sacrificed. For whose benefit ? Big business or a small community? We check the developments…

Urban Cash

Over £15 million is being poured into the Urban Splash Chimney Pot Park Development in Seedley and Langworthy. Here the Salford Star lifts the roof off the `reinvention of terraced housing’ and asks what Salford is getting for its money…

ast April the Urban Splash `funky’, `upside down’ houses near Chimney Pot Park first came on the market in a blitz of publicity and partying. Ask anyone in Seedley and Langworthy why they didn’t buy one of the `funky’ houses and they’ll tell you – they couldn’t afford one. Simple as that.

Yet when the `reinvention of terraced housing’ scheme was first announced, the impression given was that these houses would be within everyone’s financial reach. Salford MP and government Cabinet Minister, Hazel Blears – who first introduced Urban Splash to the area - said it very loudly three years ago, as she posed for the cameras in Chimney Pot Park alongside Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and Urban Splash chief, Tom Bloxham…“These plans” she announced “will create exciting, affordable homes and help boost the regeneration of Seedley and Langworthy.”

Tom Bloxham himself said it, quoting a sales figure of around £50,000 per house…”Urban Splash believes Langworthy can provide affordable well designed contemporary accommodation for local residents.”

In answers to the concerns of residents at the Ordsall and Langworthy Community Committee on 7th December 2004, Ilona Snow Miller of the Regeneration Team reported that “the Urban Splash development…would include affordable properties for local people.”

And, of course, Salford City Council is still trumpeting the project as a key element of the area’s masterplan. Only last month a council press release stated that Urban Splash has begun work to “transform 385 Victorian terraced houses into 349, affordable, contemporary homes in the centre of Langworthy”.

…In yer wildest dreams. When the homes came onto the market in the first phase, the average price was £120,000 plus another £5000 or £10,000 if you had a car to park. This is way above Salford City Council’s own financial definition of an `affordable house’ which is £57,600 – or 3 x £19,200 (the `lower quartile household income’ for the city).
What’s more, according to the new Affordable Housing IN Salford document, the `lower quartile’ income of Weaste and Seedley, the area around the Urban Splash development, is £13,933 – which would make an affordable house for this community in the £42,000 realm. The average price of the Urban Splash houses was almost three times this figure.

Just after the first houses went onto the market, a story broke about Urban Splash keeping houses back for sale to its own staff and existing customers. This was a bit of a red herring. The truth is that very few people in Langworthy and Seedley could afford one, or wanted one. 18 houses were kept back for local people (with a further 12 in reserve). Despite all the hype, only a dozen were bought by local people. The rest were bought by `outsiders’.

Even if local residents could manage to stretch themselves financially, only seven, out of the 108 houses that went on sale, were priced at £99,950. The rest cost up to £146,000. Despite the gleeful announcements of politicians, spin doctors, developers and community workers, houses for sale in the first phase of the Urban Splash scheme could not be described as `affordable homes’ for people living in Seedley and Langworthy. Yet the amount of public money being poured into the scheme is absolutely staggering…

English Partnerships, the government’s regeneration agency, has put in £3.5 million; a further £8.5 million has come from the government’s Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder funds, and the council has chipped in a few million from various pots of money, although no-one seems to know an exact figure. A conservative estimate for the total amount of public money invested in the Urban Splash development would be around £15 million. And it will probably be well over this figure by the end of the project. For what amounts, so far, to twelve houses for local people bought for three times the price that local people can afford.
Also, despite the huge amounts of public money granted, there was nothing in the agreement between the company and its public sector partners to set aside properties for local people.

“We were not obliged to do this” confirms Nathan Cornish, Associate Director Development at Urban Splash “We did this from a genuine desire to offer houses to local people.”

Unlike properties made available to Urban Splash staff, there were no discounts available for local people who bought one of the houses. Urban Splash itself didn’t pay anything for the land it is building on, nor the costs of relocating and compensating the existing residents who lived in the terraced houses on the site; or, apparently, getting that site ready for development. That’s been done through a battery of public funding under titles like `Strategic Site Assembly’, `Strategic Investment’ and `Developer Support’. So what is the company putting into the project ?

“It’s the development expertise” says Bob Osborne, Head of Housing at Salford City Council “They’ve put the scheme together, developed the concept…they’ve got the marketing skills…so there’s a lot of what you would call `intellectual capital’….”

Fifteen million pounds worth ?

“By the end of the contract they will have had £15 million…if you look at that in isolation it looks like a big bit of money but that’s part of a much bigger business plan” he adds “You need to look at the whole business plan for the scheme…”

Unfortunately, we’re not allowed to see the business plan as it’s `commercially sensitive’. Nor are we allowed to see the Development Agreement which sets out the terms under which Urban Splash has to operate because that’s `commercially sensitive’ too. And, as the housing scheme progresses, Urban Splash can draw money from Salford City Council for a percentage of work costs. But we don’t know the percentages, as they too are `commercially sensitive’. Indeed, there’s a lot of `sensitivity’ surrounding the whole project.

We tried to obtain meeting reports and updates on the Urban Splash scheme from Salford City Council website…but found that the reports were either missing from the minutes, `not for publication’ or unavailable as the public was excluded from the session. All we are getting is fragments of a much larger picture – and the more fragments we get, the community get, and some councillors themselves get, the more ugly that picture is looking, despite the fancy Urban Splash graphics and hype.

It took Karen Garrido, a Salford Conservative councillor - yes, there is such a thing - to question what was going on and to expose `Members concerns’ that weren’t included in minutes available to the public. At the Strategy and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee in June she asked that the Committee’s action sheet include “concerns conveyed at the last meeting relating to the increased purchase price of the houses being sold by Urban Splash, which Members felt are too costly for some local people”.

But is this development aimed at `local people’ ? Some clues can be found on the Urban Splash www.chimneypotpark.co.uk website …`Chimney Pot Park is next door to Salford Quays and round the corner from Manchester’ it squeals. And on a `wish you here’ pop-up postcard of Manchester adds “All the benefits of the big city with the neighbourhood feel”.

Egged on by the website - `spring is just around the corner for this proud area’…`it has community at its heart and soul’…`you’ll be able to get your paper delivered to your house !’ - the media turned the development into a kind of Coronation Street for the chic and shallow.

The `quaint’ northern street names might have been kept and the façades of the `quaint’ terraced houses but behind all the gloss are the stories of the original inhabitants who were cleared from the area on the understanding that their houses were being demolished.

“I know an elderly gentleman who wanted to stay in his property, he’d been there all his life from being a child” says Susan Copeland “He reluctantly moved and was then told they were staying up – he wasn’t happy at all and he’s still not happy.

“I was ousted out of the Urban Splash houses because I lived on Reservoir Street” she adds “I got a Homeswap and was moved out of mine into another one. I’m not happy when I look what they are selling them for and how much they gave me. I got £9000 for my house, I got a valuation on my new one of £27,000, and I’ve got a balancing charge against the house of £18,000. If I sell my new one I have to pay that back…where’s the swap ? There is no swap.

“I was never given the option to go back to the area” Susan explains “I wouldn’t have gone anyway at those prices. “

It’s a sentiment echoed all around Langworthy Road…

“I used to live in Laburnum Street where the Urban Splash site is, and I had to get out” says Jacqueline Booth “Had they said `We’re going to do them up, would you like to move back in ?’ I would have said `Yes’. But they didn’t, they got other people in. Affordable housing ? I think it’s a load of codswallop.”

Meanwhile, as the first phase houses were being marketed, posh people’s property pages were urging their readers to get in on the scheme… “Some homes are going for as little as £100,000, whilst the premium plots are a mere £146,000, which is low for a two bedroom property in the Manchester area” slavered whathappenedlastnight.net.

So, is it a question of the public purse subsidising houses for yuppies ? In November 2000 the Daily Telegraph exposed Urban Splash, revealing that the company got up to 40% of the costs of some of its major developments from grant aid, and in particular from the government funded Partnership Investment Programme. The scheme was subsequently outlawed by the EEC because it gave private companies an unfair advantage. “In short” concluded the article “public money provided the developer with his profit…with surprisingly few conditions attached.”

At the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee meeting, Councillor Karen Garrido, also asked that another minute which was left out about the cost of Urban Splash properties should be also be included…“Tighter controls on developers need to be implemented to curtail such issues.”

Salford City Council insists that there is “a commitment to affordable housing” but “details of the scheme have still to be finalised”. In other words public money has already been poured into the project, 30% of the houses have been sold, work is well underway on site…and they are still discussing it ?

Surely before committing millions of pounds to the Chimney Pot Park development someone, somewhere should have had cast iron guarantees of how many affordable units there would be, at what cost and exact details of how the scheme would work.

The council even had to remove its affordability clause from the agreement with Urban Splash so that work could commence on site because they hadn’t `finalised’ it. But it didn’t stop them approving `public sector draw down arrangements’ (ie public funding) at the same time.

Meanwhile, plans for 25 or 50 `affordable units’ funded by the Housing Corporation and managed by Manchester Methodist Housing Association have been scrapped. We are, however, assured by all parties that details of affordable houses are going to be released very shortly - with figures varying all over the place.

Urban Splash told us “At least 50 of the remaining houses will be made available though an `affordable’ [their inverted commas not ours] option which usually involves shared ownership/shared equity marketed and managed through an appointed social landlord.”

If there are 50 `affordable homes’ on the site out of the total 349, this is nowhere near the council’s own statement in its Affordable Housing IN Salford document that a “minimum of 20% of all new housing developments should be affordable” with “an aspirational target of 25%”.

Salford Council leader, John Merry says “There is a requirement for a number of units to be sold as affordable housing and Urban Splash are working with the city council, English Partnerships and Great Places Housing Group to make homes available to first time buyers through a shared equity scheme.” A spokesman added that the scheme will be funded by English Partnerships (which has already committed £3.5 million to the scheme) but doesn’t represent any “new” money.

But is it going to be funded by yet more public money and is Urban Splash putting any of its own resources into affordable housing on the site ?

“This scheme doesn’t really have anything to do with Urban Splash” a spokesperson for English Partnerships informed us “It is an English Partnerships initiative giving access to would-be owner occupiers who currently could not afford to get a foot on the property ladder.

“Agreements have yet to be made as to the number of homes” she added “so funding cannot yet be confirmed. But it is separate from the £3.5 million.”

So what are people in Seedley and Langworthy getting for the £15million plus that has eaten up so much of their regeneration budget ? Perhaps 50 `affordable homes’, if they’re lucky ? This would work out at over £300,000 per `affordable home’ in subsidies from the public.

Why are we doing this ? Why are we pumping public money into a private company to build homes that people who are from the area cannot afford ?

When pushed, Bob Osborne, Salford’s Head of Housing, finally reveals some sort of truth…

“It’s never been about affordable housing, per se” he admits “It’s been about rebuilding the community…”

`Rebuilding the community’ at these prices means losing the old community. And Salford City Council’s public statements now appear even more hollow…

”349, affordable, contemporary homes in the centre of Langworthy”.

Meanwhile, Tom Bloxham, Chairman of Urban Splash, says that “It’s good business to do regeneration.”

Not so good for the former residents who are standing on the outside, looking in on the `reinvention’ of their ex homes…

Carol Newbury and niece, Stacy
I’m Not A Millionaire !
I didn’t buy an Urban Splash house because I’m not a millionaire. I think that the houses are really good and I’d love one. But affordable ? I don’t think so, not for me anyway. Lots of people around here are on the social or in one parent families – a few could afford it maybe but not many.

Susan Copeland and Emma
It’s Not Good For The People They Got Rid Of…
I think the Urban Splash development is good for the area but not necessarily for the people they got rid of. I go to the meetings so I know £15million of public money went into it. I think it could have been better spent elsewhere and if Tom Bloxham wanted to invest in this area he should have done so himself.

Diane Edmunds
Did I buy an Urban Splash house ? No, I can’t afford one…£15million of public money gone into them ? There would be wouldn’t there, it’s always into things like that. People think it’s ridiculous – they’d rather have the money spent on council houses and things for the kids around the area, like sports facilities.

Jacqueline Booth
A Smack In The face
No I didn’t buy an Urban Splash house – it’s too much money if you live around here. It’s a bit of a smack in the face for all the people who have lived around here. They’ve pulled all the houses down and built these so no-one here can afford them. I think they’re for yuppies coming from the Quays, and the BBC will just make it worse, honestly. Where are we supposed to go ?


t’s complicated, very complicated…”hideously complicated”
according to Bob Osborne, Salford City Council’s Head of Housing And secret. But we’re going to try and unravel why those first phase Urban Splash houses cost so much. If we get it wrong, we apologise. But, hell, you only get one life so…shall we have a go ?

OK. When you question the public sector partners of Urban Splash – Salford City Council, English Partnerships and Housing Market Renewal – about the vast sums of public money that have gone into the Langworthy housing project they argue that when the
properties are sold they get a `return’ on their `investment’.

In other words, there’s a lot of public money going into the scheme but at the end of it a lot will come back into the public pot to be reinvested in other projects. Or, as Bob Osborne explains in an e-mail…

“The overages from the scheme will be split pro-rata dependent on the initial investment. City Council resources which are recycled back can be utilised further to invest in the area.”

And as English Partnerships explained…

“When the properties are sold, the total receipts are divided
between the public sector and Urban Splash, through a pre-agreed formula, based on the original investment contributions.”

The formula - or `sophisticated overage scheme’ - is `commercially sensitive’ so they won’t tell us what it is. However, we have
managed to get hold of a similar secret `overage scheme’ that is being used on the Kersal Heights development…it’s an
arrangement based on “a split of super profits”. `Overage’ is defined as “returns to the developer over and above that forecast in the development appraisal accompanying the detailed Development proposal notice…”

In other words, the partners don’t get a straight split on the profits made from the scheme but from the `super profits’, which seem to be profits over and above what they all agreed Urban Splash might make in the first place. So, unless the scheme makes `super profits’ nothing comes back to the public purse. Does that sound right ?

Sounds right to us. And it doesn’t seem to fit with any concepts of `affordable housing’ which would explain a very strange statement by John Merry, Lead Member of
Salford City Council…

“Some public funding went into the construction of these homes” he understates “and there is therefore a requirement by all partners that the homes be sold at market value in order to get good value out of public money invested in the scheme.”

The first 30% of houses that were sold from the Urban Splash scheme were definitely sold at market value. But surely the whole point of public money going into housing schemes is to provide homes to those in need at less than `market value’ so they can afford them, otherwise what’s the point ? To provide `super profits’ ?


By John Yendall who owns the newsagent on Langworthy Road.

When the Urban Splash scheme was first announced I thought `At last, great, they’re doing something for the area…how fantastic’. And then two years on from that…oh it’s all changed…

he first houses have already been sold to their staff, the cheapest one is just short of £100k, and how many have been bought by speculators and private landlords ? I’m sure there was a rule that they couldn’t buy to rent – that seemed to go out of the window…`We must make sure that the houses are accessible for the disabled’ – the kitchens are upstairs. Everything they’ve said, they appear to have contradicted.

Thousands of people were led to believe that the Urban Splash scheme was affordable houses for local people. It’s there in black and white. How have they been able to go back on that… because the cheapest house in the first phase was £99,950 rising to over £140,000, plus £5,000 or £10,000 if you want a car park ?

I don’t understand why a private company is receiving public money – if they were turning round and saying `We’re receiving public money but the houses are going to be £50,000 and you’ve got to live in the area to get one’ then fine, at least people in this community would benefit from that. But they can’t receive public money and say the houses are £120,000 and sell them to outsiders – what about the public money ?

If I was another property company I would be extremely unhappy about them being given public money – why aren’t they going to banks like any other private company and paying interest rates ? The difference, they’ll say, is that they’re doing it for the community. How can that be true ?

When the prices were first announced people were coming into my shop disappointed, every other customer was making comments like `What a con’…`What a sham’…`I knew it was too good to be true’…`What happened to the affordable houses ?’...just general comments like that…

And when they actually went on sale I’ve never seen so many police around the place, there were people coming from all over the country. I know because they were coming in the shop buying papers.

As for bringing prosperity to the community, I don’t think so. It will be a community within a community. We’ve just found out that they want to build luxury flats with coffee shops and boutiques at the front of the site. That just tells you the type of person they want to live here – boutiques and coffee shops. Enough said. It’s not called Langworthy Rd any more it’s called `Langworthy Village’.

They can use all the fancy educated words they want but for me it’s social engineering. In 10 years time, when that BBC is set up, there’ll be BBC employees over there in the Urban Splash housing. I think that it will be a completely different community on its own. We’re Salford residents who have lived here all our lives and basically they don’t want us. It’s going to be an extension of Salford Quays…

The Quays is taking over the lot, it’s spreading very slowly but it’s spreading. They can’t say `You...You…and You… we don’t want your type in the area’, No. But they can knock your house down so you can’t stay in the area – it’s as simple as that.

Loads of people have already gone. Some have gone through Homeswap but I don’t know where the people they swapped with have gone – they’ve just gone.

As a resident of Langworthy, and having spoken to a lot of residents in Langworthy, we don’t want flower baskets…We don’t want the council printing its own propaganda magazines once a month with someone on the front with a basket of flowers…we don’t want that…no-one wants it, believe me… yes, when it’s all finished…But to gate off the alleys and fill them with flowers…we’re just tinkering. What people have got to remember is £70 million, and all they’ve got to shout about is bringing Urban Splash in, and filling up flower baskets and hanging them on lampposts…It needs investigating.

Whoever’s given them the cash needs to know where it’s going and what’s happening. I’m so frustrated because I don’t know where the money has gone.
They need to get a team of forensic accountants to scrutinise the accounts, I think there’d be some interesting findings. This shop received £50,000 of improvements – it’s had a new front, double glazing, been pointed and had a new roof which is apparently the cheapest Spanish slate you can possibly buy. I could personally get it done for less than £20k. If that is the case I know where all the money’s going. And they accepted a guarantee of 12 months for a new roof. It’s usually 10 years absolute minimum, I couldn’t believe it.

I don’t want to be negative all the time - a lot of people are very happy that they’ve had work done on their properties but they’re not happy with the quality of the work.

Where else has the money gone ? Well, we’ve had four sets of plans for Langworthy Rd, they’ve acted on none of them – and the people who draw up those plans don’t come cheap. We’ve had plans for the parking at the back of our shops – they’re not doing the parking at the back of the shops… They’ve put speed bumps on Nansen Street because the residents asked for them years ago. By the time they put them in the houses were knocked down and it’s now going to be a school playground so they’re going to have to rip them out again.

I watched them put new edgings and pavements around a house, then a fortnight later drive a 40 ton digger over it and knock the house down on it. So there’s your money.

They say the money’s run out but just look around and tell me they’re competent, they’ve done nothing. If those people can go home at night thinking they’ve done a good job we’ve got a serious problem.

I’ve seen what private money can do – it was seven months from knocking down the Ambassador picture house to building and selling lovely flats – seven months – we’re over eight years and we’ve got nothing…empty crofts where houses used to stand with knee high rails.

All we get is strategies, consultants, auditors and solicitors…and everybody’s had enough.

They keep asking us what we want. If someone’s saying to me after eight years and over £70m spent `we want to know what you want’ it’s beyond belief. It’s frightening. We were talking to a woman a few weeks ago who said `We had one of these meetings 12 years ago’…12 years…

After all this time they still want to know what residents want – somebody help us because they’ve lost the plot down here.

And if anyone from Broughton reads this, God help you because they’ve made a complete mess of this and they’re going to do the same to you.

I’ll be like `have you heard about this …And people are going `Oh what now ?’ They’re browbeaten. They’ve done a good job on the residents of Langworthy because they’re fed up and not interested any more. And that’s exactly what they want.

Recently we went to a meeting as traders and residents of Langworthy Rd and when we first got there we saw the meeting lists and we thought `hold on it’s not for us this’…They’d changed our area. That’s how much we know after eight years – we don’t even know where we live…whether we’re Seedley South, North, East or West…They gave us no official notification of the meeting, it was only because someone told me about it that I knew. It’s their job to communicate with residents and they’ve failed miserably on a simple thing like that.

I think they’ve got a master plan for the area and it’s going to be put in place. They want to make you feel like you’ve got a voice and that you matter. You don’t. What matters is big business and big money. They’re not interested in us. Simple as that.

But I believe that people have got to keep fighting.


Money. So much money showered on Langworthy and Seedley. The place should have pavements of gold lined with Dick Whittington and black cats. So much money, that everyone seems to have lost count.

In the last seven years alone the area’s had something like £13.8 million from the SRB; nearly £9 million from Pathfinder; over £17 million from the private sector; £4.2 million from ERDF, NWDA and a load of other agencies with initials. Plus the council’s occasionally stuck its hand in its pocket. Langworthy and Seedley has probably had around £50 million, although no-one seems to know an exact figure, there’s so much money cascading in from different pots. With another massive wad coming in the near future, the council puts the total figure at near-on £88million. That’s £88,000,000. Everyone should be delighted. But they’re not.

Maybe it was pure coincidence that local people we spoke to talked either of chaos, confusion, incompetence or corruption. No-one knew where all the money had gone. And no-one was impressed with attempts to regenerate the place. We found businesses going to the wall, kids cautioned by the police for playing out, families fighting to save their homes, school mergers that no-one wants, and old people sad and sidelined by Salford’s attempt at a brave new world.

A stroll down Langworthy Road, taking in the back streets, reveals continued dereliction, tinned up houses and lots and lots and lots of placards, posters and banners barracking the council. No-one seems to know what’s going on. Everyone’s fed up. And nothing seems to be happening.

Of course, everyone thinks the place has improved from what it was before. But most question the agenda and motives behind that improvement. The so-called `community-led masterplan’ is seriously struggling for support.

My Kids Can’t Go Out…

I haven’t really got a problem with the housing in Langworthy. I like my house, but my kids can’t go out to play. Since they’ve brought dispersal orders to the area my seven year old son has been told off by a Community Police Officer for being on the street – at 4pm. And my daughter went into a shop to get a kebab and the real police walked in and gave her a warning – if she can’t go into a kebab shop what can she do ?

If they see kids on the street they get a police caution, and if you get two cautions a letter goes out to the parents. I think it’s their way of trying to protect us from youths but I don’t need protection. For me they’re targeting the wrong kids, picking on 12 and 13 year olds and splitting them up if they’re in groups. But a girl got raped in Walkden at 10pm so I’m not having my daughter walking around on her own. Now it’s either that or she sits on the computer all day.

I’ve got to throw her out now because she won’t go out, and if she does, she gets thrown back in. You can’t win – they want our kids to be prisoners in their own homes.
Rachel Morrison

The Landlord – why isn’t the council listening to residents ?

Our firm manages several properties around Nansen Street and is keen that the community is able to continue living together, in their own homes, as they have done for a generation or more. We think it is unfair to uproot a community and support the Seedley South Residents Committee in their efforts to save their streets from demolition in the regeneration scheme.

We’ve had insurance agents and surveyors come and see the houses and they’ve all remarked that there’s nothing wrong with them. They’re ideal for first time buyers and there’s no reason on earth why they should come down. They should be improved. You can’t just suddenly destroy a community. We do not understand why the council seems not to be listening to the residents in this regard.
David Neumann, Mayfair Management

GOING…GOING…ALMOST GONE – the schools, the bowling green, the social club and four unique houses…by the residents of Derby Road off Liverpool Street

I moved from Nelson St, which was featured on tv in Neighbourhood From Hell, and I’m still paying off £40,000 negative equity. We had to get out because we’d put up with it for ten years while the council did nothing. We’d lived here for five years and the next thing we knew was that the council want to put up a new school and pull down these houses, plus the Conservative Club with its bowling green.

The club has 400 members and it’s their focal point, their lives. And these houses are unique in that they are all individually designed, and less than thirty years old. You’d never find another four houses like these. A few of us have been to every meeting at the four schools and everybody wants their schools to stay as they are – they don’t want one massive school. But whether Salford council listens to them you’ll never know.

If they pull our houses down we’ll get nothing for them and, I presume, we’d have to leave Langworthy to get somewhere we can afford. They’re totally not interested in you as a person. The council is ruining Salford. I wanted to end my life here because I’m linked with the church and everything. I’m not going anywhere – I will come out of here in a box.
Paul Farrell

They said to us that if they take the four houses and the existing school they still won’t have enough land to build the new big school. But if they’re going to take all this and they’ve not got enough for the school it doesn’t make sense – why take it ? We think they are trying to put apartments here.

In a couple of years we could lose our house, the school might get built as a little two storey thing and then they could put up flats. They put them in everywhere

We’re never going to get something like we’ve got now and why should we anyway because we’ve all worked hard. We’re not in our twenties, we’re in our fifties so how can we go and get a mortgage to find something like we’ve got now ? I think it’s disgraceful.
Anne Heaton

Hair 2 day gone tomorrow ?

The council argues that the Seedley and Langworthy regeneration is good for local businesses – here one local business woman, Ruth Critchley of Hair 2 on Liverpool Street, begs to differ…

The regeneration of Seedley South will end up closing my business for the simple reason that there’s hardly anyone left in the area. Nearly all my regulars have moved and the houses boarded up or demolished.

Employed at my salon are myself, my daughter and another stylist. There’s also a nail technician and a beautician – so there’s three businesses in one shop possibly put out of work because there aren’t enough customers to keep us going. My business will not hold out until they sort the place out – nobody will give us a bank loan because I can’t guarantee to pay it back. And I can’t have an overdraft for the same reason. Yet I’m still paying business rates.

Even when the area is finished it looks like they’re bringing money people in, and they’re not going to be going to a little hairdressers on the corner of the street, they’ll be going up town where they work…

The original council plan was to turn our shop into houses and move us, with a 60-40 equity split on a new property. I still think that’s what they’ll do, even though no-one agrees with it. For a start I know I couldn’t even get a mortgage on 40% of what the property will be worth for the simple reason that I haven’t got any equity anywhere else. I’ve got nothing in the bank because I’ve used it to keep this business afloat, and that will be gone. Plus I don’t owe anything on my property, it’s paid for in cash, so why should I get into debt when I don’t want to move ? I don’t know where they’re going to move us to because there isn’t anywhere really is there ?

But I’m not going without a fight. The family have put so much into this place, when we moved in it was a shell and we’ve virtually rebuilt it ourselves. There’s no way we’re going to walk away from it all.

In the meantime, they’re not letting anyone know what’s happening. And I’m not getting any help from anywhere. John Merry came to see me but I think the same of the council as before – they’ve made their minds up about what they want to do and unfortunately we’re stood in the way causing a problem for them. They don’t really give a toss about anyone. I think they just want Salford people out and there’ll be no Salford people here soon –how big do they want Manchester to be?


What do people think about what’s going on in Seedley and Langworthy ? We popped into the friendly Ashley Brook pub on Liverpool Street and chatted to a random selection of regulars…

“People driving through Langworthy and Seedley will think `Oh what a great regeneration, what a wonderful place’. And if you go in a rectangle along Liverpool Street, up Langworthy Road and go along Lower Seedley Road and all the way down Seedley Park Road, you’ll see that they did up all those outside houses. They’ve spent millions where it’s all within sight. But they’ve neglected the streets inside. It stinks.

Where I live in Grange Street. And that, and the one next to it, have been left out. All we wanted was what everyone else has got, double glazing and a front door. Nothing more. And they’ve turned around and said you can’t have that now, the council’s run out of money. I’m reluctant to spend on my house because you see all the money that’s gone into the area for other home owners like myself. The difference is that no-one can see the front of our house, so we didn’t get a penny.”
Phil Howard

“I’ve lived on Knutsford Street in my own house for 19 years in the regeneration area. I’m badly disabled and applied for a grant to repair my home in January 2000. It was approved then the council ran out of money. Instead they told me I could have a loan which I don’t have to pay back until I die or sell the house. I don’t want that. In my street there are around 17 houses and 15 have been done up for homeswaps or private landlords. My roof’s leaking, all my windows are leaking and they refuse to do it.

“I think it’s ridiculous. I’m on fixed income and they can’t put a roof on or new windows but they can do it for homeswaps and private landlords. I think it stinks because when they showed us the scale model for the area at the Cornerstone in 2000 they told us there’d be unlimited grants. And now they’ve done a complete u-turn.“
Mike Bell

“They don’t want us here – we are like the centre of London now aren’t we ? They want to push us out and get other people in. It’s like living in a country village where people buy second homes and the price goes up and the children from that village can’t afford to buy their own houses. That’s what’s happening here. They’re ripping the heart out of this community with what they are doing. They ripped the heart out of Salford by turning it into motorway, and now they’re ripping the heart out of Seedley and Langworthy by putting in business people who want to commute from A to B because it’s easier for them. I think the BBC should f** off to Manchester and let them have the problem. So my children can have affordable houses to live in.

“The people from the Cornerstone and the SALI shop who are saying `We’re the good fairies’ and `What a good job we’re doing for this area’ are just the devil’s disciples and they don’t realise it – they are doing the dirty work for the council.”
Leo Thorpe

“The first thing they did was knock the library down – it was the most beautiful building you’ve ever seen - and they knocked it down and put up another building that cost £5million. There was nothing wrong with it but some builder must have said `Right we’ll have a few bob out of this’. They put this awful community centre up but there was a beautiful one there already. Then we had people from Altrincham coming down to tell us what was wrong with the area and they were getting huge fees. The money they’ve spent. And they did that before any house was touched. And then there’s Urban Splash – he’s making a fortune out of that – the kids will run riot…”
Ernie Bell

“Real people who live in Salford on £12 - £15,000 will not be able to live in the area. The council are trying to get rid of people from the Salford area. When the BBC gets developed, this side of the Quays is where people will live. Have a guess who won’t be here? People who actually live in Salford now. Langworthy’s a joke and it’s been going on for 15 years.”
Tony `Two Pints’


Walk along the back streets off Langworthy Road, right opposite the glitzy Urban Splash site, and it’s another world. Row after row of tinned up houses…and anti demolition posters in virtually every window of homes that are still occupied. In the face of the Pathfinder bulldozers these families are fighting for their future…

Stephen and Kerry Plaister, from Kara Street
We’ve lived here for 16 years and we want to stay, that’s why we’re campaigning. We’ve got two daughters aged 14, and 9. They’re embarrassed about the conditions around here and they hear their parents argue about it. In winter time it’s absolutely freezing, being next door to empty tinned up houses. We have to leave the fire on all night because it’s so damp which is a health and safety issue, and the gas and electric bill are shocking. All my youngest child has ever known is this and I feel embarrassed about it too.

But I can’t move. I like my house, I like the community, I like my principles, so I’ll stick it out to the end. And I may end up out of pocket with my marriage falling apart but it’s my house, I’m going to stay here and fight tooth and nail to keep this community. They’re good people. I bought this house not for an investment but as something you pass down the line to your children. The housing market has trebled for me. But from the day I moved in I had no intention of moving out. I’m Salford born, I’m not far from my mother, and I class the community as my friends – they’re of the same feelings.

12 years ago we heard that there may be regeneration but it’s kicked in over the last nine years. At first we thought it would be brilliant, you could see the deterioration. And you can now see that the area’s been done up but we seem to be in this little pocket that’s out of the way of the Langworthy corridor, so we think there may be a hidden agenda. I think that with the BBC and Urban Splash taking off across the road, maybe they’ll do the same over here. That’s what I personally think.

We’ve got written assurances from Hazel Blears that the houses will be staying up, we’ve got an e-mail saying that they would come under block improvements in two to three years - that was sent in Aug 2002 so if you look at the timescale that would be about now – nothing’s come of it.

Six years ago they starting tinning up houses…acquired by Salford City Council. A few weeks ago I was in the back entry and staff came to borrow keys to tin up number 27. When I asked him why they were tinning it up he said the council had acquired it for demolition. We‘ve set a group up now to work side by side with the council to come up with ideas for this area but you’ve got one of their own employees saying that the houses have been acquired for demolition.

I’ve got a breakdown of the monies they’ve got for the Langworthy and Seedley area this year and it states that money’s there to acquire properties from residents if they want to move out of the area. So it frightens me that maybe they’re going to put you in a position where they’re bullying you out of your house. It seems to me that they’re trying to socially cleanse the area. I’ve seen hundreds of people go from around here and I don’t even know where they’ve gone – I’ve no idea.

The only good thing that’s coming out of all this is that we are starting a residents group. We’re a tight community now, all looking out for each other, all trying to go forward and beat the demolition. “

Kevin and Karen Ainsworth, from Nansen St
Karen: “There used to be drug dealing, drinking, fighting and it was a rat run for cars around here. So at first everyone supported the council when they said it was a development area…But since then they’ve spent, we’ve been told, £75 million, and all they’ve done is split up the community.”

Kevin: “We’ve seen the affects – a lot of mental illness and depression. There’s an old lady called Edna who they moved out of Harmsworth St and put in a homeswap in somewhere else. The poor old girl still comes around here looking at the bedroom windows saying `I can’t get in my house’ and neighbours are taking her back saying `You live here now Edna, you live in Langsam St’. `But it’s not my house’ she says – and she’s still walking around – she came round the other week and fell over, broke her arm. It’s awful.

“But at first it all seemed fine. In 2002 they showed us plans with the houses re-modelled and recreation areas, and everyone was happy. They said it would take some time so we all sat back and waited. And then nothing happened until they came out with another plan. We all went to have a look and all our houses had been demolished.“

Karen: “I looked and my house wasn’t there – it was a pocket park. There were a lot of old people who were really upset. We got a petition up and I said ‘What happens to me if you pull my house down?’ They said `You can go to one of these new builds here…we’ll say yours is worth £50,000 and that new one’s worth £100,000…we’ll give you £50,000 and you can have one of these nice new houses with a garden – you won’t have to pay anything until you sell your house’.

“I said `Are you for real or what – do you think I’m stupid ? Why would I want to move out of a house that we’ve paid for and done up for that ?’ Everyone went mad so we got those plans overturned. But Ardner Street residents didn’t fight and their houses were up for demolition. They came up with plans for new builds with Ardner Street as a park but our houses were staying. And then the money ran out, so all the houses they’d bought and boarded up they couldn’t afford to do anything with. You’ve got to question why and the only thing that we can think of is that they don’t want us here – that they want these demolished to build new houses. I think it’s all linked up to the BBC and Urban Splash.”

Kevin: “There’s nothing wrong with my house. There’s nothing wrong with these houses. A lot of people around here said `Oh we know what will happen’, but you walk around the streets now and you’ll see all the `Save Our Houses stickers. We’ve formed the Seedley South Residents Group and our community is getting stronger by the day.”

Karen: “They’re going to have to do something because those people in the Urban Splash site are not going to appreciate looking over at boarded houses. So we’ll either be flattened before then, or whatever, but we’re not going to make it easy for them because we’ve got nowhere else to go.”