New Lodge tower blocks: Time for action, not words

This week Children’s Commissioner Nigel Williams voiced his disbelief at the conditions that children and their families are living in after he visited the tower blocks in the New Lodge.
Like the many other politicians and political representatives who have went before him, he has witnessed first hand what many families go through on a daily basis.
Nearly 140 children live amongst the seven tower blocks in conditions more akin to Victorian times than the 21st century.
Mothers told the Children’s Commissioner of how their children suffered from low self esteem, lack of confidence and personal skills, asthma, speech difficulties and about the high number of children with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD).
We fully welcome the fact that Nigel Williams will take his findings to the Housing Executive.
But how many politicians, political representatives and others need to keep telling the Housing Executive what it must already know – that these children and their families deserve much better.
No one expects the HE to swoop into the flats in an early morning raid and move the children and their families to new homes overnight.
Everyone involved in this from the parents and politicians to those in the Seven Towers Committee fully understand that this is not the case, but when will the Housing Executive start to do something about it?
The Executive’s own rules state that families with children should not be housed in flats above the fourth floor yet there seems to be an abundance of them in the New Lodge towers.
Again this brings into question the Executive’s North Belfast strategy and why after so many years of being promised the sun, the moon and the stars it is still only a dream to those people stuck on the housing waiting list in North Belfast.
This newspaper and housing campaigners in the north of the city have long been campaigning for things to change.
Every person who backs that campaign is a plus, and we thank Nigel Williams for taking the time to come to this part of the city to see the conditions which he himself admitted shocked him deeply… even after working as a councillor for inner city London.
But the time for people backing the cause is long gone and the time for some positive and immediate action to kick into place is now.
It’s time for Paddy McIntyre to come out and explain on the pages of this paper to the people of North Belfast in detail what the Housing Executive’s plans are for those children, families and pensioners who live in housing that’s completely unacceptable.
Today we offer the Executive’s chief executive a platform in next week’s paper to do just that.
The only question left is – does the Housing Executive actually have a plan? The people of North Belfast not only expect but also deserve much better and it’s high time that someone, somewhere got their finger out and put a plan into action that will help the dire housing situation on this side of the town.
The time for talking is over… it’s now time that some visible action takes place to combat what has been the scourge of nationalist North Belfast for a long, long time.

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