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Pathfinder exposed by Corporate Watch

Pathfinder Watch | 20.06.2006 18:47 | Migration | Social Struggles | Birmingham | Liverpool | Sheffield

John Prescott's government department may have vanished, but the wrecking ball he has set in motion is still poised to demolish thousands of homes across Northern England and the Midlands - there's far too much money involved to let this one go.

The housing market renewal 'Pathfinder' programme is designed to 'stimulate demand' (i.e. get house prices up) in certain deprived areas. Residents, however are often left wondering if the kind of regeneration they need involves so many compulsory purchases and home demolitions (see 'Demolishing the Community', Corporate Watch newsletter 22). It has been inherited by the new Department of Communities and Local Government, headed by Ruth Kelly. It looks as though Kelly must keep to the line laid down by Prescott[1] - Over £1.2 billion has been released by the, now defunct, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM)[2] and building and consulting companies are circling round this honey pot.

A range of companies stand to benefit from this scheme: regeneration specialists, consultants, construction companies, PR agencies and a network of interests is emerging between many of these bodies and the Labour government.

The House Builders' Federation, which lobbys on behalf of most of the UK's construction firms, including ones profiting from Pathfinder, is represented by Portland PR[3], a company set up by Tim Allan, a former deputy to Alastair Campbell. Tim Allan also worked as a Labour policy researcher from 1994-96.[4] Tim Allan seems to have come out of the Labour Party straight into the service of the corporations - and to be eager to sell his Labour contacts, such as Tessa Jowell, Gordon Brown, David Milliband, Ruth Kelly, Alan Johnson and Alistair Darling to businesses such as Sky.[5]

David Taylor, chair of the Hull HMR, is another Pathfinder personality who has mixed a corporate and Labour career, having been a former head of development at construction giant AMEC as well as once a personal advisor to John Prescott. His current jobs include supervising the construction of the Olympic Village and Olympic Stadium in London's Lower Lea Valley. This is another contentious development that residents fear will bring no benefits - and likewise another part of the web of quango jobs.[6]

Among the big building companies involved in the Pathfinder HMR schemes is Bellway Homes. As part of the Liverpool New Heartlands programme it is bulldozing most of the Klondyke Estate and leading the £29m redeveloping of a former primary school and nightclub.[7] Another company positioning itself as a Pathfinder specialist for Liverpool is Gleesons, which is already eager to gain PFI construction contracts.[8]

There are also a number of local campaigns against the disruption of the Pathfinder schemes. Residents of Edge Lane West in Liverpool have been fighting a hard battle to save their street, part of 400 homes maked for demolition as part of the New Heartlands Pathfinder (see Many other similar campaigns are listed in

The Pathfinder/HMR programme is one of the major untold corporate stories of the UK today. The only reason that Corporate Watch has managed to find out so much about it is because we have been contacted by residents living in areas threatened by Pathfinder's demolition, many of whom are fighting compulsory purchasing orders.

If you have informations about companies involved in a Pathfinder scheme near to you, please get in touch.

[3] [4]

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