Friday, March 16, 2007

Column of the day: Simon Jenkins

Congratulations to Simon Jenkins for making a three-course meal of the hand that feeds him. His Guardian column this morning attacks that newspaper for a supplement it carried on Wednesday:
The section ominously carried no advertising, but was not headed "advertising supplement". Yet it was paid for by the government's Housing Market Renewal Partnerships - which agreed the synopsis - to boost the controversial Pathfinder housing policy. In return for a large sum of money, the agency was offered pre-sight of the copy to "correct inaccuracies". In effect, it secured sympathetic coverage. None of the writers (nor the Guardian's readers) was told of this, or that their fees were being paid, in effect, by the Blair government. Some were given to understand that they were writing for the Observer.

The supplement was laudatory of the nine Pathfinder housing clearance projects in the Midlands and north. This potential honeypot of £5bn of public money (half an Olympics) was launched in 2003 to "kick-start" the renewal of down-at-heel cities. This admirable ambition was vitiated by the method chosen, to assemble and demolish Victorian inner-city neighbourhoods for sale to private architect/developers. The option of using the money to give repair grants to residents, or confront the horror of clearing postwar housing estates, was not pursued. Developers demand cleared sites, as with the green belt. The Pathfinders' job was to find and clear them.


Anonymous said...

The Guardian has form for this kind of thing. Last October they ran two supplements on the wonders of information-sharing and the 'Every Child Matters' agenda. We put something on our blog about it at the time, though I'm not sure if your blog accepts links? I'll give it a try:

Anonymous said...

How is it that this Lib Dem blog supports Simon Jenkins revealing the truth about Housing Market Pathfinder and can see it for the land clearance developer profit bonanza that it is AND YET the only Lib Dem Council that has had the opportunity to apply Pathfinder to its City has made its programme the biggest in the Country - Lib Dem Liverpool City Council are intent to demolish over 20,000 of their citizens homes and are funding Pathfinder to the extent of causing massive Council cuts in services and prejudicing its Capital of Culture year in 2008.

Anonymous said...

Can we make it clear that the real Liberal Party in Liverpool has been fighting the demolitions and the Liberal Party achieved 7.5% on a clear anti-demolition programme, more than conservatives and greens.

Cllr Steve Radford