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Soon we’ll have to pay for the air we breathe

Margaret Manning


 

Privatisation of Public Space: A recent headline in the Manchester Evening News was “The company that owns 50% of the city centre”

They think it’s good news that more and more of our city centre and other public spaces are being taken over by private companies. Not only the Arndale and other indoor shopping centres, but also increasingly open spaces are under private ownership. 

Through the PFI rebuilding of the magistrates court in Crown Square the whole Spinningfields area is now under ownership of a consortium of banks and other companies. The new court building has already been slammed by judges for not having enough court  and holding rooms so prisoners have been left waiting in vans outside.

The electricians who waged a year-long struggle against DAF subcontractors trying to use unskilled labour at Piccadilly lobbied the same company up to the same tricks at Spinningfields. Some of the electricians won their tribunals against unfair dismissal which was a great victory.  Their success is tinged with sadness that a scaffolder was killed on the Spinningfields site – health and safety is never the top priority for these building firms making huge profits from PFI schemes.

Local shopping centres also suffer the creeping takeover by private firms.  Wythenshawe ‘Civic’ is now run by Moldwyn Properties who tried to stop people campaigning against the BNP and racism from giving out leaflets – even on the public path that runs through their private empire!

Salford council now wants to see a huge swathe of the city taken over by a new company.  On the board are several well known ex-Salfordians – actors etc who left years ago - but no local people will have a real say in what happens in an area from Langworthy to Broughton. The powers that be think they can reproduce an area like Salford Quays across the rest of the city – but presumably won’t be creating the well paid jobs that enable people to buy such over inflated ‘loft apartments’.

When the Arndale Centre was first built it was half owned by the City Council. Now Prudential Property Investment Managers own the Arndale and 50 % of the city centre.  Not only our indoor centres now restrict our right to campaign and relax informally, but outside too – so who would bet they might not charge us to go onto our public spaces and thus make us pay for the air we breathe.

 

 

Manchester Event - People Not Profits
Campaigning Against cuts in public services, privatisation/ PFI/all forms of privatisation meeting

Sat 26th Feb from 10.30 am

Friends Meeting House, Manchester.

All welcome to join in discussion with others involved in challenging New Labour and their fetish for privatisation in all it's forms - especially in NHS, housing, education, transport. 

We will look at how we can help step up current campaigns, work together to widen their impact and look at socialist alternatives we can campaign for.

More info email peoplenotprofits@yahoo.co.uk 

 

 

 

February 2005

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