Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Failure of "Regeneration"

David Farrell finally got his skip moved. Naturally they left a mountain of rubbish for the council to clean up, or not.
Farrell, never one to miss a photo-op, was complaining about the state of the place and the presence of "over 100" skips in the area. He really should learn to count. That would mean an average of 15-20 skips in each street and, while we are living in an endless building site, things aren't quite that bad.
However, he does raise, unintentionally, a useful point. He speaks for the "Belfast Holyland Regeneration Association", but what is regeneration? Is it demolishing family houses and replacing them with HMO flats? This is the argument the landlords use when they promote their "University Quarter Regeneration Association".
On the night that the landlords were finally ejected from the residents meetings I saw Michael McMahon screaming into the face of Denise from the church,
"We're landlords!! We're regenerating this area!!"
"You're a fuckin' vampire!!" I shouted.
Denise came between us, slowly backing me away. I remember the look of terror in Declan Boyle's eyes as he cowered behind his two year old son in a manner that looked for al the world like he was holding a human shield in the middle of an angry face off between landlords and residents.
If we use the landlords definition, Farrells clique have succeeded in regeneration. The area has been raped and raped until there is almost no community left. Officially there are "less than 200 residents" and 6000 students left, a ratio of 30 to 1. In reality, there are less than 100 residents, a ratio of 60 to 1.
In their constitutuon, the Farrell clique claim they want to "redress the balance" between students and residents. In this they have surely failed. Now a number of half assed schemed have been proposed ranging from forcing families to rent from private landlords to government confiscation of vacant dwellings.
For the record, the landlords may be evil, but they are not stupid. If they put "students" into their properties they get more rent plus a humongous pay off courtesy of the ratepayer. They don't have to pay rates on their properties.Landlords surely want families to be forced to rent from them, but only after they have extracted the maximum profit from "students" and the ratepayer.
I notice some families, many immigrants , are being moved into the slums in Wolsey street. Flat Rentals have an entire block that are nearly all empty because they are Unfit for Human Habitation. The government can sieze them if it wants, but the cost of fixing them is approaching that of a new build. In fact, it's probably more than the cost of system built housing. As well as that, imprisoning families in an area that is completely out of control is an act of extreme moral depravity.
Investigations on the deleterious effect of "studentification" show that once the student population reaches 10% a residential area becomes unsustainable and inevitably dies, becomindg "Studentland". A government cap of 30% on HMO's, a ratio of 30% "students", will destroy every community the landlords invade. Of course, the government was lying. Planning have rubber stamped a free for all on the rape of communities all over South Belfast.
So now we come back to were we started; Farrell, skips and "Regeneration". If Residents outnumber "students" 9 to1 their community is destabilised and finished. If "Students" outnumber residents 60 to 1 It's been over for a very long time. People want out and skips are the least of their worries.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


For the background to this see Raided

The Stasi Wear Kid Gloves These Days

"Yes officer, what can I do for you now?"
This one was a detective. He was Amused. I guess they'd told him hammering the front door half off it's hinges wasn't going to phase me.
"We've had a complaint about harrassment. David Farrell want's you to stop writing about him on your website and take everything you have written about him on it off"
"Well officer, David Farrell's free to complain about my criticisms of him and you're free to arrest me"
"Hopefully not for harrassment"
They really don't like me. They apparently consider me a very serious criminal. Time to put them in their place.
"The harrassment laws have been introduced to silence dissent. The journalist George Monbiot has written about an electricity company in England that, because it is a person in the eyes of the law has taken harrassment proceedings against local protesters who don't want toxic ash dumped in their lake. If they come within so many feet of an employee they go to jail. If an employee approaches them, they have to step back, whether it's into the path of of an oncoming bus seems not to matter"
He almost laughed at that one.
Now it's time for the meat.
"Someone tried to kill me recently for exercising freedom of speech. Do you really think I'm afraid of going to jail for it?"
This is news to him. The lid's been clamped on tight. They take their cover ups seriously.
"When did Farrell call you about this?"
"This evening"
"And you came out right away?"
"It's a serious offence"
"Free speech?"
No answer.
He gives me his card. He and three uniforms depart.


I've finally done it. It took a lot of persuasion, but I've agreed to allow comments on this blog. Because I do not have home internet access trolls may feel free to run rampant, but beware, I'll be watching and you will be deleted. So bring it on, the good, the bad, the ugly. Let a thousand flowers bloom. Well, maybe that's not the best quote. Mao used his "Democracy Wall" to flush out the dissidents so he could crush them, and I know how it feels to be on the business end of that treatment. So do your worst trolls. After all, vitriolic abuse is not the same thing as having your head bashed off the pavement.