Hodge Hill MP Liam Byrne has welcomed a decision to demolish two tower blocks in Hodge Hill ward. The decision came after Liam lobbied the Housing Minister John Healey, and persuaded the government’s Homes and Communities Agency to step in.
The tower blocks – Bayley and Stoneycroft – were on a provisional demolition grid as early as 2003, and residents were looking forward to the blocks being pulled down.
Liam had led local residents in protests when it became clear that the Tory-Lib Dem council were failing to address the problem.
Liam Byrne MP said: ”I welcome this decision but question why it has taken this incompetent council seven years to get to this point. They have been spending £3,000 a month just to keep the towers secure and £14,000 a month to underwrite the council tax.
“The council has wasted over £127,000 on securing these blocks when they should have been pulled down years ago. This at a time when the council is shedding 2,000 jobs and has managed its books so poorly that the district auditor initially refused to sign them off.
“This is a testament to people power. So many residents came out and voted with their feet when we held the protest. It made it almost impossible for the council not to listen in the end.”
The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has stepped in to help the Council find the money to knock down the blocks.
John Healey, Minister for Housing welcomed the move, and praised Liam’s commitment to sorting the issue out: ”I’m pleased that these flats are being demolished. Labour is committed to decent, secure and affordable homes for all, and this is great news for residents who have had to live with housing that no longer meet the needs of the community. I’m particularly pleased that I was able to release the £1.2m funding to get the work moving.”
“I know that Liam has campaigned tirelessly to make this happen, and I pay tribute to his work on behalf of his constituents.”
1. Footage of the protest in 2009 can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0XJgGZtbvs
2. Liam Byrne submitted an FOI request about the cost of maintaining the towers. Copy available on request.