17 February 2017
Standing tall over Rochdale and visible for miles around, the Seven Sisters are an icon of our town’s landscape. But more than that, hundreds of Rochdale’s residents call these buildings home.
So you will understand my concern when I learned that Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, who manages the flats, is considering at least some of the buildings for demolition.
It is true that in recent times these iconic buildings have not been in their best condition. But as residents have told me, this is due not to the state of the buildings themselves but entirely down to mismanagement from above. This is a blind-spot that RBH is refusing to address.
No one is behind the regeneration of Rochdale more than me. But demolition is an extreme measure which in this case serves only to cover up unacceptable mismanagement.
Rather than rushing in the bulldozers, money could be saved if RBH invested in a fit-for-purpose concierge service, making the flats cleaner and residents safer. Given that tenants already pay a service premium, this isn’t too much to expect.
Worryingly, to deliver their project the housing association has teamed up with the Royal Society of Arts, a London-based charity who describe their wonkish work as ‘nurturing networks of innovators… that, when understood and supported, can be mobilised to deliver a 21st Century Enlightenment’. Their self-aggrandising language is both ridiculous and suggests to me that they don’t share the straight-talking attitude of our town. I don’t believe for one minute that they have the best interests of Rochdale at heart.
‘Stop dithering and start building’ was the expert opinion on the Government’s recent Housing white paper. So what logic is there in demolishing homes in perfectly good condition? As your MP, I will raise this issue in Parliament at the first opportunity.