Socialist Worker

Fury at 'social cleansing'

Issue No. 1709

Save Scotswood Campaign

Fury at 'social cleansing'

"I'VE LIVED in Scotswood all my life. I'm not going anywhere. We shall not be moved." So said Gwen from the Save Scotswood Campaign Group at the start of a mass meeting in Newcastle on Thursday of last week.

Some 500 people crowded into the Exhibition Hall at the civic centre to protest against the city council's "Going for Growth" policy. The plan is to bulldoze 7,000 houses in the city's West and East Ends and to bring in private developers.

One woman explained that she woke one morning to hear the local radio news reporting the policy: "They were talking about my home. It was the first I'd heard about it." Going for Growth was announced in the media without any discussion with city residents.

Kevin Jones, Labour's cabinet spokesman for development, said on the radio that the programme would go ahead even if every resident opposed it. Yunus Bakhsh of the UNISON City Health Branch called this attitude one of "social cleansing". Local people would be relocated against their will to make way for yuppie housing.

Kenny Bell, secretary of the UNISON City Council Branch, saw the policy as part of the Labour Party's disgraceful drive to privatisation of services including public housing, education and cleansing. Nigel Todd of Benwell is one of the few Labour councillors who has spoken out against the policy.

He was strongly applauded when he said it was obvious the inner-city areas need money for regeneration, but it was vital that the people centrally affected should be involved at every stage.

It was clear from the meeting that the local communities will just not accept the proposed changes. They are fighting back. It was agreed to set up a Newcastle Community Alliance to fight the council all the way on Going for Growth.

The meeting unanimously approved a resolution to the council calling for withdrawal of the proposals, the development of a new community planning strategy with full community involvement, and no forced relocation. On leaving the hall at the end of the meeting one resident said, "Something big's happened tonight. If Labour don't change direction fast they could be swept away electorally.

"We are just not going to stand for having our lives ruined in the pursuit of profit."


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News
Sat 12 Aug 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1709
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