Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Ghost town on your doorstep

Grim, is the only way to describe some of the empty properties on this estate.

How the remaining residents put up with the growing unsightly gloom on their doorstep every night is uncertain. The local authorities sure don't harmonise boarded-up flats with their surroundings, and for those you can take a peek into, sure do their very best to deter anyone from wanting to settle there temporarily.

At some point, a busy community thrived here during a time when the authorities were happy to just let it exist. Long memories must now have strong stomachs.

Making my way around this afternoon with two potential squatters looking for a place to open, we come to the conclusion that there are two ways of boarding up a flat --

1) Boarding up windows/doors with single sheets of steel

This may have been an older way of closing a place up. It is as simple as stapling a sheet over each of the doors and windows, but leaving them intact by doing so. The interior looks untouched, from what we can see through an open toilet window of one such place.

We're not sure if other flats covered up like this are of similar condition, but this one, with its toilet window, has possibility. It's also only two doors away from where we are.

2) The Sitex mesh covering

The more recent way of sealing up flats it seems, doubtless the outcome of local authorities realising they could be squatted. Bolting the Sitex on means smashing windows and removing front doors. The mesh of course taunts you, because you are enticed to see in and are then hit by the extent of the damage that has taken place.

From the way the flat from yesterday was worked on, it seems that the total annihilation of a premises is the new way forward. Toilet, bathroom, kitchen, stove, cupboards, shelves, electricity sockets, skirting boards, furniture, pipes, internal walls, chairs, sofas -- the destructive work of one set of council men with mallets, to then make way for the Sitex men to add their finishing touch.

Some workmen have really gone to the hills in some of the Sitex flats -- painting logos of their favourite soccer teams on bedroom walls; throwing anti-climb paint everywhere; displaying the remains of the toilet like portrait hangings. In one flat is evidence of a fire.

Not a single care that the flat they are being paid to obliterate could be a temporary home for someone else.

What an institution we must have, that uses the tax money of its citizens to pay workmen to make empty properties uninhabitable for its citizens!