Thursday, 9 April 2009

Two heroines against Pathfinder

Edge Lane, Liverpool

UPDATED FEB 1st 2010

Elizabeth's eviction (for that's what it is) from her home:

As I said when I briefly wrote in the blog at the end of March of the sad end of Elizabeth Pascoe's heroic legal struggle against the breakup of her community, and the Compulsory Purchase Order for her home in Edge Lane, Liverpool, there would be more. Today's blog is that more.

Here's Charles Clover, whose articles in the Daily Telegraph against Pathfinder (Housing Market Renewal) for so long kept the story in the nation's eye. Sadly he is no longer there, but this week he took up the cause again and wrote of Elizabeth's story in The Spectator:
"It would be a mistake to conclude, though, that her battle against state bullying is all for nothing. It has defined an area of law in which modern Britain is little better than Zimbabwe. It used to be the case that the state could take away your home for a road, a railway or an airport because it was to the greater public good. It used to be the case, even during the clearances of the 1960s, that to succeed with a compulsory purchase order for a housing scheme it had to be proved that the properties to be demolished were unsound.
What the Edge Lane case has shown is that compulsory purchase orders can be used under the present law to do whatever public officials want to do with them. The state can now take away your home just because the ones next door are scruffy and because a site needs to be created for Bellway Homes to have a sufficient profit margin, as in this case..."
Read on:

Elizabeth is one of the network of fighters collectively known as Hutties, pulled together and kept informed by another doughty campaigner, Sylvia Wilson, of Homes Under Threat.

Immediately after the court decision, the following was received by all 'Hutties' in the early hours from Sylvia and Elizabeth by e-mail. As it's elsewhere on the net I post the link, rather than re-post it all here, but I have to say I read it with deep emotion, having spoken to Elizabeth not long before in Liverpool, at the opening of the SAVE Liverpool exhibition, when we still had hope.

25th March 2009
"As I see it the battle is like housework. We don't ever `get anywhere' but my goodness it is so much worse if we don't try. I gave it my best shot." Elizabeth Pascoe

Yesterday Elizabeth Pascoe, who has been fighting to save her home in Edge Lane, Liverpool, for four years, finally lost her case in court after initially staving off demolition. Here we print two e-mails. The first is from Sylvia Wilson of Homes Under Threat (HUT) and the second is a reaction from Elizabeth herself.

Later, when the initial shock was over, Sylvia nd Elizabeth sent out another e-mail to all Hutties, and they have both kindly given me permission to repeat the messages here.
A message from Sylvia:
Fellow Hutties,

After the founding of HUT almost 6 years ago and of being attached (it seems at times, by umbilical cord) to my computer and phone to help all Hutties the best way I know how, I have to send my thanks to you all for sticking with it for so long, and continuing your battles and refusing to give in... as in the case of Elizabeth Pascoe.

We have spent many years together fighting "almost" the same cause, whilst the principle is the same, each case is different, you are all battling a cause, whether to save your homes, your livelihoods, the environment, your history and heritage even a village green, that are targeted to be re-built on, a few of you have sat quietly in the background supporting us, offering practical help and cheering us on! To you all, Thank You!

In the beginning, we seemed to be on a winning streak, until the Councils and Government realised what was happening and took a different tack to using CPO's, their idea was to wait us out and "Voluntarily Acquire" our property, but even that didn't work well or fast enough for them, so trying to box us in, they have now altered the Planning Laws that were set in place to protect us... they may think they have us all by the short hairs... but I have such faith in you all, that we will find a way around this pathetic maneuver together!In this recent Economic Crisis, we now have the chance to put extra pressure on the Councils and Government to stop Demolition and New Build, and go for the Refurbishment of homes and properties, (that Ms Beckett publicised the other week) this needs to be reinforced by you in your areas to your Councils! Letters to them with the emphasis on the Economic Crisis, cease further demolition, building only on the areas that have already been cleared (of which there are many and lying fallow) global warming, and the inert energy in extant buildings, which only need refurbishment to get them back on the market and free-up dwellings for the hundreds of thousands of folk without a home!

As for your own battles, keep going, don't give up and don't give in!!!


Elizabeth has said she is happy for me to make this statement from her public on the Republic blog. She cannot afford to battle on any longer, financially and emotionally it has all been a terrible strain.

Dearest Hutties,
I have so very much needed your support this last 4 years, in that without knowing of the hundreds of others, and probably tens of thousands, I would have succumbed to the view that it was selfish / insane for me to fight for my home and community.
Thanks for leaving me in peace to grieve this last few days. Sylvia has passed on the messages just to let me know people are thinking of me, and understand.
Over this period of time I have "grown up" a great deal, in that it has become painfully apparent that government is clueless, even before this financial melt down. So, I have learned to trust my own judgement, have respect for my own gut reactions, stop doing as I used to do about various problems "intellectualise" them. This really hurts, besides being very wrong.
I am extremely frightened about the future, least of all in financial terms, far more in social and environmental terms, as all these accumulated "mistakes" coalesce. All this hype about "increased aspirations" and the people of the planet (or at least in the "developed" world) sold into commercialism and consumerism, of which housing market renewal is a typical manifestation. I hope it isn't irrevocable, as we see younger generations have such a different mind-set to ours.
Most of you are my age, and we have the vestiges of the make-do-and-mend capability and the "old-fashioned" idea of living within one's means, which had its own rewards. Times are going to get extremely tough, and as we are all aware that government not only doesn't know what it is doing, it is digging a pit of debt for future generations to come. It is needlessly uprooting citizens it is supposed to serve, in the name of wider public interest! They are tearing to shreds the lives of well integrated naturally occurring peoples that have survived the tough times and created our communities in the first place. This appetite for "throw away" and replace with new-build is detrimental to the very life-support systems of the planet!
I think it is up to us, as a moral obligation to the future, to let them know in no uncertain terms what fools they are, about a great deal more than HMR. I have tried "ladylike" and "the proper channels". It didn't work, despite the insight and sympathy of the judge.
I don't know what I am going to do next. I am completely certain that the judge who had to decide against me fully grasped what was going on, but there was no remedy in law once the CABE view of the proponent scheme took a 180 degree turn-around at a date too late for me to put in other grounds (and we weren't granted an adjournment to be able to do that).
The law isn't infallible, even though in the good old days its creation was as a device to protect us. "Unfortunately" this current government has created even more draconian legislation, just last December to be even more destructive in the name of "progress", which gives citizens even less chance or even the opportunity to voice never mind challenge their "big ideas" (that the nation can't financially afford and the planet can't afford in essential terms).

We have come together under Hutties for a reason which is now apparently just the tip of the iceberg. I think we need as a nation that has been lucky enough to have been subject to fairly reasonable governance in the past to now "wake up" and start being less passive, for the desperate sake of future generations. As the saying goes "The price of freedom is constant vigilance". And of course "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing".
I have established beyond all reasonable doubt that the systems developed to support us are now being used against us, and that even the judiciary, whose sympathy I have, are unable to rectify the situation.
As I said, I don't know what to do next. I do begin to have sympathy with the idea of drastic measures and possibly a "civilised" version of that will be to attend the demonstrations in London April 1st. I have been too busy for 4 years to be involved in anything much at all. We certainly need to stand up and be counted, and not "merely" rely on the systems created by government through which we are supposed to be heard. As far as I can see it, no matter how well one manages to present oneself, allowing that we didn't have a legal team, the effort may seem futile, maybe direct action would work better, risky as that is (because of all the nutters that jump on the bandwagon, AND that government is creating laws to prevent us from doing that).
Of course we all have problems and can't all find the time and other resources to fight as I (who doesn't have a job or family around me) did. But we, who know what harm is being done, as it is to us, are obliged to fight back some how or other, to make sure that we get heard. We can't allow all these "mistakes" to keep on rolling out.
Maybe so far we have been "too nice". Maybe I will cease to be nice, I just don't know. Some say I have been "dignified". Maybe I'll change. Having taken my home and half my income and taken up 4 years of my life, and totally scuppered my chances of a doctorate in the greening aspects of urban regeneration I had worked towards for years before that, what have I to lose?
It is early days for me, free of this particular battle. I can't advise or even think yet how to make evident my feelings. Yes I am very sad, and yes I am very afraid, not just for my future (how I will now end my days / where I will live after generations of owner occupier mentality) but for the whole world if this sort of governance is the best there is. Mainly and overwhelmingly I am angry and wonder whether I will stay sane, or, maybe I'll decide to try "insane" for a change. I am not yet ready to give in to despair.

So "Carry on fighting" is all I can say, in your own way with your own particular battle. Most of you are not up against such an intricate mesh of quangos as I was, for such a series of supposed "benefits" (road widening to take more faster traffic into the city centre, and such like, not just housing). In the end 15 acronyms had their logos across the bottom of proponent documents.
It will add greatly to the burden on my back if any of you "fold". I didn't, and even now in defeat I haven't given in. Again I thank you for that, knowing that I am right, as not just me thinks as I do, it was 70 witnesses, some of them representing 13 different universities, and in essence representing all of you. But for now I am too close to this week's events to decide "What next".
The very best of luck, everyone, and hold in your hearts "WE ARE RIGHT!". Have no self doubts, our case is proven by events. I very much wish I believed in hell so that they might all be punished for creating hell on earth. Unless we try our utmost, the worst is yet to come!


For more on Pathfinder, still available is former Secretary Adam Wilkinson's damning study for SAVE, see publications:

I'm not often lost for words Elizabeth, but I really can't find the right ones to express my sorrow and anger at what this country has descended to, with the wickedness of 'Housing Market Renewal'. Keep the faith.

More news:



Anonymous said...

This was distressing to read.
The art on the boarded windows is amazing.
I'm currently working on a graffitti art project and something like that would make an interesting tutorial visit.
If you have any info and/or contacts about it I'd appreciate it being passed on.

Nemesis said...

Graham, I can see what I can find out. If you want to send me an e-mail (see Profile) with contact details I can get back to you.