Ringo's house saved. Or is it?

Big ifs abound as hundreds more Welsh street homes still face wrecking ball

Written by  The Confidentials | Follow @ | Friday, 15 June 2012 09:04

RINGO Starr’s childhood home has been saved to enable future generations of Beatles fans to pay homage at the doorstep of his modest abode at 9 Madryn Street.

Or has it?

The decision comes as no comfort to long-term campaigners wanting to spare the other 500 homes that make up the Welsh Street community in Dingle.

'New housing might bring in higher rate receipts for the council but these gains will be at the expense of residents who will now have to pay substantially more to continue to live in their own community'

Those homes are now almost certain to face the bulldozer as part of a multi-million pound redevelopment of the area, despite several private developers bidding to take them over at no cost to the public purse.

For Housing Minister Grant Shapps it was a golden photo opportunity yesterday.

Head to Liverpool, appear coat-less with an open neck shirt to show you are really one of us for a photo-op outside Number 9.

Photo op: The Mayor and the MinisterPhoto op: The Mayor and the Minister

The television crews were there along with a posse of snappers. Unfortunately Jonathan Brown, from Merseyside Civic Society, had tweeted his friends and supporters to ensure the minister got both sides of the story. The future of Welsh Streets is far more than a house where Ringo was born and lived for a short while.

Even the National Trust is not interested in adding 9 Madryn Street to its collection of Beatle residences.

So Minister Grant was faced with a large group of people - mostly those wanting all of the area to be spared, a few wanting them cleared to make way for new house building.

A deal has been brokered between the city council and housing association Plus Dane that essentially means massive clearance of the boarded up homes.

(Click here to add text)Ringo’s house and another 15 in Madryn Street will be saved and it’s thought a row of 17 larger three-storey houses in Kelvin Grove will also be spared.

The rest face demolition unless there’s a change of heart.

The Welsh Streets Home Group have generated international support in their eight-year campaign to spare the terraced streets.

Several companies insist they have expressed an interest in taking over the Welsh Street houses and renovating them for sale or rent at no cost to the government or the city council.

Mayor Joe Anderson insists he hates to see housing cleared if it can be salvaged, but he points to a local consultation exercise which claims a majority wanting the old homes to be cleared to make way for new houses.

Grant Shapps was in Liverpool to offer a £13.5m cash bonus to help restore old housing, mainly miles away in Anfield.

This is how the Government’s Department for Communities and Local Government headlined the visit ….Rock Starr's home saved with a little help from his friends.

Their message beamed: "A tide of community support has saved Ringo Starr's childhood home from the wrecking ball, Housing Minister Grant Shapps said today.

“Fans of the Fab Four from across the world will now be able to pay homage to the childhood home of the Beatles drumming maestro - 9 Madryn Street joins the Cavern Club and the childhood homes of Sir Paul McCartney and John Lennon as beacons of Beatlemania." (Excuse me, the Cavern Club?)

Here comes the spun kingHere comes the spun king"Mr Shapps visited Madryn Street with Mayor Joe Anderson to see first hand the ambitious plans now being worked up to hand Ringo's former home and other homes in Madryn Street, that were previously earmarked for demolition, over to the community," crowed their spinagram.

In an outbreak of verbal Beatlemania, their release added, under the banner headline, "A long and winding road": "The decision to save Madryn Street marks a victory for the local community and Beatles fans who for years battled to save Starr's home.

"Aware of local opposition to the demolition plans, Mr Shapps stepped in to ensure that the views of local people were properly heard, and that other options were being considered.

"Mr Shapps has asked TV's George Clarke, newly appointed as Empty Homes Independent Adviser, to work closely with the city council, the local community and housing associations to see what can be done before sending in the bulldozers.

"In a ground-breaking experiment, the council has agreed to give the local community the opportunity to take over and refurbish 16 of the properties in Madryn Street, and in doing so gauge the demand for such properties in the wider area."

Seduced by a harvest of Beatle one-liners, the release went on (and on) "With the Help! of Liverpool residents we worked it out and Madryn street can be saved for the nation."

Then came this: "Its future will now be in the hands of local residents - if they can make a success of this street then many more similar houses and streets could be saved."

It’s that word: If!

It seems there is no copper-bottomed guarantee that any of the homes will be spared – even 9 Madryn Street.

Remove the Beatle cliches and very little has changed.

Dingle-born Daniel Mahon, of Equfund, had sought to purchase many of the Welsh street properties last year as part of a "sweat equity" project to enable hard-up first time buyers to get a foot on the property ladder.

Boarded UpBoarded Up

He told Liverpool Confidential: "If so few homes are to be saved, the mass demolition of these properties is a travesty for local heritage and the people of Toxteth.

"New housing might bring in higher rate receipts for the council but these gains will be at the expense of residents who will now have to pay substantially more to continue to live in their own community.

He added: "I'm sure that the council must have justifiable reasons to pursue their plans but we have proven, without using any government monies, that empty homes can be brought back into habitable use for a fraction of their new-build cost.

"If a property is structurally unsound, it should be demolished. The Welsh Street homes have stood proud for decades and many are considered by experts to be only in need of general upgrading to meet the Decent Homes Standard; surely economic repair considerations should prevail over demands for new housing and costly redevelopment ambitions."

Jonathan Brown viewed the spectacle as a PR stunt and vowed to keep up the pressure to save as many of the Welsh Street homes as possible.

The “long and winding road” continues. Perhaps “Money”, is, all-they-want.