As posted last month, I recently spent an evening with an inspiring group of people fighting to save their homes on Cairns Street, in the Granby area of Toxteth, from the bulldozers.
Sadly not unusual in a city set on Victorian style social clearance, with a little help from the government's deep pockets. No, the thing which made me mad was the fact that the developer - in this case Lovell, a national company - is determined to gain possession of all 60 homes before the scheme gets going.
While firm plans for the area are not being put forward until at least February, it seems that the renewal scheme will be a mixture of demolition and "remodelling". But this is where it gets suspect. Even those residents whose houses are not going to be knocked down will therefore be expected to sell up at today's prices (with 50 homes out of 60 vacant these will doubtless be artificially low). Then, once the work has been completed, anyone who wants to move back would have to bid on the open market - something most couldn't afford to do, even if they wanted.
Liverpool City Council is unwilling to be drawn on the situation, saying that it is early days and that negotions are going on with Lovell over 'feasibility' issues. Reading between the lines, I would hazard a guess that the developer is putting pressure on officials just as they are on the residents.
Hearing about the situation from those householders, and reading about it on a community blog, outrages me and I felt sure others would feel the same.
While what is going on may not be illegal, it smacks of moral bankruptcy and is difficult to see as anything other than a big company profiting through cynically and systematically shafting the working class.
But when it came to selling the story, I drew a blank. The Independent, New Statesman and Big Issue in the North are among those who turned it down, leaving me feeling guilty for getting residents' hopes up, angry and impotent.
It’s always hard to know what kind of story will take the fancy of a particular commissioning editor on a given day, and for some reason this one just didn’t get people going.
Cllr Steve Radford, a liberal member of Liverpool City Council who has been vocal on the demolition of these areas, voiced suspicions that vested interests were at work.
He believes the approach of his council is fundamentally flawed and warns of a “money-making cartel” made up of senior council figures and four national building companies – including Lovell.
The effect of the policy, under which streets can be demolished if just one home in seven is deemed structurally unsound, is the depopulation of Liverpool.
In the past year, one family of every nine to lose their house to demolition has moved out of the city.
He added: “The programme in Liverpool is being handled badly. Here, for every house renovated nine are demolished. It is the other way around in Manchester and Salford. We are seeing a form of social cleansing.
“This is not being challenged by the media though. I wonder how much of this is self-censorship. The council and these building companies are all big advertisers so maybe the media companies just don’t dare to rock the boat.”