"They sold our streets and nobody noticed". This quote from an Observer journalist brings you up with a jolt. I think the quote taps into a feeling that all of us have experienced over the last decade: public spaces feel like they have been colonised by private interests and as a consequence have undermined our personal freedoms and changed the way we relate to each other. No wonder that the battle cry on the student demo of 2010 and the London riots of 2011 was "Who's streets? Our Streets!" Ground Control unearths the ideas that have led us to be the most CCTV-ed country in the whole of Europe put together. The book outlines how architectural ideas such as "secure by design" and successive governments’ bogus "respect" agenda have added to our sense of alienation and mistrust and criminalised activities that were previously part of the rhythm of local communities.
Before I read this book I kept wondering why I rarely go to Bluewater shopping centre with my sister, or why I feel alienated by the design of the new Westfield shopping centre in Stratford. I kept thinking about all the political activities that were routine in my area in the past that are now classed as an ‘Enviro- Crimes’. We used to flypost derelict shop-fronts when publicising a public meeting. Political and community activists would spontaneously meet in the local square for events and demonstrations without having to fill in any booking forms. During the campaign poll tax (1987-91), there was a mass burning of poll tax bills in the town square in an old tin bin whilst the local police warmed their hands on the burning bills! Nobody got chased away, nobody got a penalty notice.
Compulsory Purchase Orders - Urban Land Clearance
Minton gives evidence of the deliberate running down of public housing stock, which smoothed the way for housing associations to come in and mop up. "Decent Home Standards" were used to condemn housing, much like Ofsted is used in schools today