little london

Ј85m revamp tenants: ‘Hands off our homes’

By DAVID MARSH

MUNICIPAL reporter

TENANTS fighting an Ј85m inner city regeneration bid, in which council homes will be demolished, gave a blunt message to housing chiefs: "Hands off our homes."

Leeds City Council has drawn up plans for a major refurbishment of the Little London estate to be funded through the Government’s Private Finance Initiative (PFI).

It includes major improvements to hundreds of homes, environmental improvements and new community facilities.

But campaigners are angry the programme proposes the sale to private developers of the three Lovell tower blocks and the demolition of other properties.

Although 125 new council houses will be built under the programme, the objectors argue the planned sell-off and demolitions will mean a net loss of about 300 local authority homes. They claim hundreds of people will be forced to leave the estate while work takes place, with no guarantee they will be able to return.

The Save Little London Campaign pressure group, is tonight holding a public meeting at which its concerns about the scheme and wider housing issues will be discussed.

The meeting at Leeds University’s Rupert Beckett Lecture Theatre starts at 7pm. Group members are also planПing to lobby next Wednesday’s meeting of the council’s executive board which will discuss the Little London scheme.

Campaigners claim public consultation over the regeneration plan has been confusing and inadequate. They also argue that funding the work through the PFI will not give taxpayers value for money.

Andrew Coley, vice chair of Little London Tenants and Residents Association, said: "All along we have told the council that we welcome Ј85m of new investment in Little London, but it has to benefit all of the tenants and residents, not just some.

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"Our association has compiled a dossier detailing all of the flaws and abuses of the consultation process.

Steve Skinner, from Save Little London Campaign, said: "Who benefits from privatising tower blocks and bulldozing homes? Is it poor working class families local to Leeds, or wealthy city workers and private property developers? I think we all know the answer."

Coun Les Carter, executive councillor for housing, said: "The campaign is being misused by left wing activists.

"Almost two thirds of people who answered our questionnaire said they preferred the Comprehensive Regeneration option."

10 May 2006

little london

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