Housing regeneration in the West End of Morecambe has taken another step forward.
City councillors will conduct further talks at a cabinet meeting in December after a resident presented them with a petition of over 600 signatures in support of a campaign to revitalise buildings in the struggling area.
The petition, backed by David Morris MP, also urged Lancaster City Council, which is to receive £1.9million to tackle clusters of empty homes in the area, to spend all of that money in Morecambe’s West End.
Last week The Visitor revealed that council officers had always hoped this money would be spent on reviving the Chatsworth Gardens housing project, which stalled in 2009.
This would involve refurbishing council-owned buildings in the Albert Road, Chatsworth Road and Westminster Road areas, hoping to sell some of them on. Others could be demolished to make way for brand new homes.
Finding match funding had been a problem due to the economic downturn, which led to Mr Morris accusing the council of a ‘plot’ to abandon the scheme.
The council refuted this and have now found the match funds. But politicians still have to grant full approval for the project and the council cabinet will now meet to discuss allocating the cash.
In his address to the town hall last Wednesday, local campaigner Steve Swithin said: “I have watched with growing alarm the steady deterioration of numerous private homes in the West End, homes that were purchased by the council more than five years ago.
“I decided that I had sat back and watched this situation worsen for long enough and I organised a petition, backed by David Morris MP and supported by the West End Traders Association.”
Andrew Dobson, head of regeneration and policy, said: “This is one (Chatsworth Gardens) that was already on the go and that is why it has been considered.
“The Government is intent on moving this forward and accepting any losses that have been made.
“The important lesson is having schemes thought through and waiting for new opportunities to come forward and that is exactly what has been done.”
Janice Hanson, deputy leader of the city council, said: “The petition shows how much the people of the West End care about the area they live in.
“As cabinet member for regeneration I have been working towards a solution for a number of months if not years and we have now found a way to progress this project.
“MP David Morris refused to meet us. I am extremely concerned that any MP would not meet with the council to discuss regeneration.”
David Morris MP said last week: “The leadership wanted me to come and listen to excuses but that would’ve been a slap in the face to my constituents.
“Labour need to know the people of Morecambe are sick of being pushed around.”