Eclectic Blue

My city of ruins

Comments Off on My city of ruins 01 December 2017

My city of ruins

I enjoyed a gentle walk around Bristol’s wonderful harbourside yesterday afternoon and evening. I was reminded, as if I needed reminding, of what a beautiful city we live in. In a city of increasing modernity, the harbour area retains much of its history as a seaport. It is only when you walk a bit further that you realise that the changes are not all for the better.

Luxury flats and houses dot the harbourside, along with the neat middle class eateries and bars, many of which are the type that you think to yourself, “If I won the lottery, I’d move down here.” It’s just a dream because there is no chance, barring a lottery win, that ordinary folk would ever afford to live in such places. The beauty of the harbourside, together with the rise of the former working class areas of the city which are now “coming up” in terms of prestige and house prices are not creating housing apartheid: it’s already here.

I see little by way of housing for people who earn around or below the national average wage. In fact, I see none. As so called lesser areas become more “desirable”, they become at least theoretically better places in which to live. But who lives in them?

I keep hearing politicians from the government trumpeting the great news that more people are in work than ever before and numerically that is true. That’s not the story, though. More people are in work in low paid, insecure jobs or low paid relatively secure jobs. All of these people stand no chance of getting on the housing ladder either to rent or to buy. This may well be the free market in action but it’s also completely immoral. Do we really determine who lives where, or nowhere, by their weekly wage packet? Actually, right now that’s exactly what we do. If you work in the public sector, unless you work in the more pampered and privileged areas like the MOD, your chances of being able to buy or even rent a proper are somewhere close to zero. To change this, we need a complete change in the national mindset.

Housing should be a right, not a privilege. As it is, the well off can live where they like, poorer people can live in pokey little flats or on the stairs of an NCP car park. As in our national politics, the centre ground is disappearing. Politicians either do care about the housing crisis or they don’t. They either work to end the logjam and help the lower orders, as doubtless they are observed as being, into decent affordable housing. This can only be started by those at the top.

Bristol’s wonderful harbourside is beginning to become a facade, like Bath has always been. The transformation of the city at the same time as preserving the best history has taken place leaving ordinary Bristolians behind. They are the ones paying a terrible price by being denied somewhere to live. The city is able to build endless student accommodation as well as luxury accommodation. Bristol is now dumping on its own citizens, devoid of vision and ideas, slapping itself on the back and ignoring our real needs. We should be ashamed but I don’t even hear politicians talking about it. Forget the fucking arena and build some affordable homes. That’s my message.

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