Saturday, 29 January 2011
Regeneration and political doublespeak
We are accustomed to politicians saying one thing and meaning another, never more so than under the current government which is heavy on propaganda and light on effective policy and basic competence. We see an array of previously unknown effete Tory and LibDem MPs handed huge ministerial salaries to set their values aside and trot out meaningless sound-bites while doing the Eton Raffles' dirty work. What they do not understand they just keep talking about, in the hope that eventually they will say something 'convincing-sounding'.Their total self-belief and lack of any awareness or personal reflection make you gasp. Hey chaps, Plan A isn't working ...
How did George Bernard Shaw put it? 'Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.'
One of many characteristics the Tories of Kensington and Chelsea Council have in common with this government is a total lack of understanding about regeneration. They believe that to regenerate the 'poorer north' of the borough, they need to plonk a Crossrail station, millionaires' flats, posh frock shops and a 'new exciting urban quarter at Portobello Square'. Yes, that's what they want to call Wornington Green after development, and they are so ignorant of the area they have no idea that there already is a Portobello Square. And I'm not telling them.
This 'top down' approach to regeneration will guarantee just one thing: the total decimation of the close-knit neighbourhood with its networks of support. The poorest will be shoved out of the borough via housing benefit cuts and Council rent rises and - VOILA! - the shocking stats on the difference between north and south of the borough on work opportunities, health, education, life expectancy etc will improve and the Council will congratulate itself with cheesy photo ops.
However, those who know, know: regeneration is about PEOPLE not areas.
This is the dream they are selling - a bright lovely young photographic model puts a plant in a tea-chest and skips happily off to the 'exciting new urban quarter' at Portobello Bottom (as local people call it).
But this is the reality - people like great-granny Mrs M distraught and confused as she is taken to court under threat of eviction unless she moves from the house she has lived in for 30 years into the flat that is still not ready for occupation.
So who are we 'regenerating' for? Not for Mrs M, that's for sure.