Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/500/3082

From The Socialist newspaper, 30 August 2007

Massive deprivation in Norris Green, Liverpool

By Tony Aitman

The press and TV have been full of glaring headlines about crime in Liverpool following the death of 11 year old Rhys Jones. With glee, they have jumped on the continuing warfare between rival gangs in Norris Green and Croxteth. But behind those headlines lies a story of council neglect, long term unemployment, poor housing, and the continual criminalisation of young people with no future, and not much of a present.

Norris Green is an area of massive deprivation. There are 32,428 "Super Output Areas" in the UK, the basis of comparing levels of poverty, where 1 represents the most deprived, and 354 the least; nowhere does Norris Green score more than 2.

The area of Norris Green where I work, a row of shops in Scargreen Avenue called the Strand, is typical of this. This was the headquarters of Liam "Smigger" Smith, whose murder a year ago was the catalyst for the current round of violence. Every day, he and his mates would gather there, outside the local off-licence, smoking dope; the off-licence has a sign in the window: "No smoking spliffs in the shop".

But where else is there for them to go? There are no jobs for them to go to 41% of Norris Green's population is without work, compared to a Liverpool average of 34%. It would be hard for most of them to get work if there was any, as 45% of Norris Green youth have no educational qualification. The jobs that are available pay appalling wages the average income in Norris Green is 17,000 compared to a Liverpool average of 22,500, and a national median wage of 23, 244.

Housing is an on-going scandal. An indication of the quality of housing is the council tax band 0.3% of Norris Green houses are in the C band or above, compared to 21% in Liverpool as a whole. Like many areas with historically low house prices, it is the norm in Liverpool for people to be owner-occupiers over 70% of people own their own homes. Yet, in Norris Green, this figure is 42%, with 58% living in "social landlord" property or council estates. For years, these estates have suffered appalling council neglect.

Then there was the scandal of the Boot Estate, just down the road from Scargreen Avenue. Occupiers were told their homes were to be rebuilt and the area regenerated. They were moved out into temporary accommodation and their homes were demolished. It was then decided not to rebuild at all leaving hundreds without the homes they had lived in for years and in worse housing than ever.

At the same time, the council is spending millions on the Capital of Culture a jamboree that will completely bypass the ordinary working class of Liverpool and criminalising youth such as those in Norris Green in the process. The centre of Liverpool around the Bluecoat building used to be a centre of small cafes, alternative clothing and jewellery stores, second hand bookshops and record shops, frequented by young people from throughout the city.

Now, bought up by the Duke of Westminster, all this has been closed down to be rebuilt as up-market shops and restaurants, with the youth kept out by a private army of security guards. With nowhere to go, they are herded by the police from one part of the city centre to another. Small wonder they feel alienated from the city authorities and "law and order".

To add insult to injury, the council is now begging for further loans to get itself out of the mess it is in, loans which will, according to their own figures, add 52 to the bill to be paid by each Liverpool resident. Oddly, the Liverpool Echo, which screamed for government intervention when the 1980s Militant-led Labour council sought loans to build houses and nurseries rather than a bean-feast for the rich, has remained strangely silent.

And what of crime in Norris Green? Unlike the image given in the press, it is lower than the rest of Liverpool 159 crimes per 1000 population, compared to 175 in Liverpool as a whole. That many young people have been driven into a life of drugs and gangs is appalling the deaths of Liam Smith and Rhys Jones at such young ages have been a tragic waste of young lives. Yes, the gangs do intimidate and frighten many people in the area, and Rhys' death is a terrible by-product of this but the situation has been made worse by the very actions of the police and the media themselves.

When Smigger Smith died last year, flowers and graffiti lined the Strand. Chalked on every available surface were salutations to the Noggsy Soldier and every pole in the street bore a garland. An arrangement was made with the police and the local community that these could stay until after the funeral. The day before the funeral, the police came round warning everyone to keep closed the following day and this appeared in the local press as that the gangs had threatened people. However, we had received not a single threat from any of the youths involved, and, true to their word, they removed all the tributes as agreed.

How can the problems of drugs and crime be solved in an area like Norris Green? The government has one answer the Criminal Justice Centre, a fast-track court dealing with offenders in the area, pioneered in the area of Liverpool covering Norris Green. I was part of a group that met with David Fletcher, appointed as the Judge of the CJC just before it opened. He outlined the social poverty and deprivation that lay behind crime in Norris Green. "And so" he said, "the government has decided to grant unlimited funds to" wait for it "the Criminal Justice Centre". Not to housing, jobs, education, social centres or sports centres, but to one of the plushest courts in the country with oak panelling and marble flooring, and a judge who proudly boasted that he could tell who was guilty before he even heard their defence.

We cannot in any way defend the gangs, the drugs and the warfare that has resulted in so many lives being wasted. We can, however, unlike the media who weep crocodile tears while their circulation goes up, point to a solution. A massive rebuilding programme, decent education in properly equipped schools, proper jobs on a living wage, as part of a socialist programme to rebuild the economy. In the short term, that means a new, mass, campaigning workers' party that could give some hope and direction to the lost youth of Norris Green.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 30 August 2007:

Strike against public sector pay cap

Prison officers defy government's pay cap

Prison Officers' strike reports


Socialist Party workplace news

Strikers solid in London tubes stoppage

Swansea: Visteon strike threat brings concessions


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Defend Newcastle General Hospital

Sheffield Northern General Hospital bulk stores strike


Trades Union Congress

TUC conference resolutions need to lead to action

TUC conference fringe meeting


Socialist Party events

Socialism 2007 - a weekend of discussion and debate, hosted by the Socialist Party


Socialist Party news and analysis

Horror and heartbreak in Croxteth - What is the cause? What is the answer?

Massive deprivation in Norris Green, Liverpool


Socialist Party policy

The growing wealth gap


Education

Cardiff: More schools fight closures programme


Socialist Party Marxist analysis

'Agitate, educate, organise': the role of the workers' press


International socialist news and analysis

Greece is burning


Workplace news and analysis

Belfast Airport workers score a victory

Unison witch-hunt

Plymouth dockyard


Socialist Party reviews

Fela Kuti, revolutionary musician

'Holding Fire' by Jack Shepherd

Save the 'Westie' in Aldershot


 

Home   |   The Socialist 30 August 2007   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Liverpool:

triangle'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future

triangleCan you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

triangleLiverpool Socialist Party: Racism and capitalism, the link

triangleLiverpool Socialist Party: The Marxist view of history

triangleLiverpool Socialist Party: Opposing zero hours contracts

Housing:

triangleNasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangleNo more fire deaths - ensure safety now!

triangleHousing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right

triangleEast London summit fails to address housing crisis

Youth:

triangleFight for free education

triangleWhy do young people need socialism?

triangleInterview with leader of students' union in the Spanish state: "When we fight, we win!"

Police:

triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?

triangleSheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

19/10/17

North West

Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

18/10/17

Democratic rights

Conference on state spies: who's watching who?

18/10/17

Leeds

Striking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni

18/10/17

Royal Mail

Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

18/10/17

PCS

Balloting members on the pay cap

18/10/17

Art

'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future

18/10/17

Council

Sheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

18/10/17

South West Wales

Hundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

18/10/17

NHS

Uprising to save the NHS!

18/10/17

Socialism

Can you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

18/10/17

East London

No cuts - hands off King George A&E!

18/10/17

North London

North London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses

18/10/17

BAE

Nationalise to save jobs at BAE Systems

18/10/17

Schools

Schools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now

18/10/17

Swansea

Socialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

More ...

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

triangle25 Oct Swansea Socialist Party: Mother Jones - A US labour pioneer

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2