‘Most people don’t live in the conditions we live in’

Twelve years ago Irene Milson was fed-up that nothing was being
done for her and her neighbours on Windermere Green estate in
Liverpool. As a volunteer for various community groups since she
was 20 she set up and became chair of the Windermere Green
residents’ and tenants’ group: “I’m a person known for having a big
voice and I got people together to stand up for our rights.” The
group joined its counterparts on two other nearby housing estates
six years ago to become the Windermere, Dovetail and Camelot
residents’ and tenants’ association, which Milson chairs.

When the housing market renewal pathfinder, known in Merseyside as
NewHeartlands, was first mooted the local community was on board –
a survey found that 72 per cent of people supported the
regeneration proposals. On Welsh Street, where Irene has lived
since 1981, the plan is to demolish 400 homes and replace them with
350 mixed-tenure properties over 10 years. Despite the fact that
Irene may live opposite a building site for the next decade she
fully supports the demolition: “People don’t want their homes
renovated – they are tiny, have crumbling brick work and the drains
have gone underneath the houses. They want nice homes with gardens
and somewhere safe for their kids to play and to park their

Is she concerned about the impact such a major redevelopment will
have on residents? She is, and has lobbied to have 38 tenants who
are affected by the work rehoused locally. “We are fighting to keep
the local community together, we are a good community and we want
to keep it strong.”

Mary Huxham has lived in different houses on nearby Powis Street
for her entire life. Now aged 67, she moved there with her parents
when she was just six months old.

She became secretary of the Windermere, Dovetail and Camelot
residents’ and tenants’ association four years ago because she
wants to see the area improve. “It has got worse over the years. A
lot of the housing is collapsing and people are fed up with the
rats. It is totally horrible now.”

The house renovated by the Tonight programme is just a few doors
down from Mary and she was not impressed with what was done. “It
was a botched job as they didn’t renew the drains and we have big
problems with the drains. I had to pay £300 to have mine

Mary is very much in favour of the plans to regenerate her local
area and says everyone she comes into contact with is keen. Her
enthusiasm may stem from the fact that she brought up four children
in a house she owned on Powis Street which had no hot water, no
bathroom and a tiny outside toilet. If the plans go ahead she is
happy to become a tenant again and rent from a social landlord
instead of being an owner occupier.

She firmly believes that local people and not “outsiders” know what
is best for their own community. “There are too many people jumping
on the bandwagon. They don’t live in the conditions we live in, and
they don’t have any right to try and sway the government about what
this community needs.”

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.