Liam Byrne today led local residents to protest about the future of Bayley and Stoneycroft Towers on the Bromford Estate.
Birmingham City Council were due to demolish the 20-storey towers that are a magnet for anti social behaviour four years ago. After spending over £1million of taxpayers money rehousing tenants they have now made a dramatic ‘U’ turn. Cllr John Lines says he has ‘no choice’ but to refurbish the towers, and has warned that the council will need to borrow massive amounts of money to do so.
Liam Byrne, the Member of Parliament for Hodge Hill is leading the protest after residents demanded that it was time for action not words. Hundreds of local people have filled in his surveys over the past 12 months demanding that the council keep their promise to demolish.
‘I’m here today for one simple reason. The council have broken their promise to residents of the Bromford. To rub salt into the wound they have wasted over £1million pounds of taxpayers hard earned money to do it. I’m told that Birmingham City council are spending £2,000 per month on security guards, but residents say they have never seen a security guard patrol.
‘I’m here to fight for a fair deal for our families‘
Local campaigner, Maria Phipps said:
‘We have just had enough. People feel so strongly about this that they are closing their local shops to come and protest. The council think we’re stupid. What has happened to the money that was put aside to demolish the blocks? Four years ago John Lines said the towers were in poor condition and would not be cost effective to repair. Nothing has changed.
Youth worker Paul Wright who works with 50 local young people said:
‘£1million pounds would have bought a whole new youth centre for youngsters, giving them somewhere safe to develop new skills. £1million pounds would have run local sports projects, after school activities and paid two youth workers wages for nearly 17 years making a long term sustainable difference to our young people’s future.
‘Councillor Lines is trying to blame 300 asylum seeker families ‘forced’ on them by the government to turn the towers back into social housing. This is ludicrous. The city’s asylum seeking families already have a roof over their heads, they don’t need rehousing. Those with no right to be here will be removed.
This is a shameless attempt to dodge the issue. Why not demolish the towers and sell the land to a housing association who can build homes for local people. Use the money to regenerate the Bromford.’