Manchester’s self-organised homeless challenge Andy Burnham over housing pledge

Manchester’s self-organised homeless challenge Andy Burnham over housing pledge

Organisers at squatted former arts space Cornerhouse have called on new Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham to go a step further than simple charity donations and engage directly with homeless people in finding solutions to the city’s rough sleeping crisis. Cornerhouse, owned by Network Rail, has been occupied by homeless people and Manchester Activist Network (MAN) since January and successfully saw off an eviction attempt late last month.

Writing in response to Burnham’s recent pledge to give 15% of his pay to homelessness charities and “put words into action” to help the rising street homeless population, MAN said:

This sounds great Andy, however what do (former mayor and new business and economy deputy) Richard Leese, (power player and former Manchester council chief exec) Howard Bernstein and (Manchester city centre tsar) Pat Karney think about this?
From the information we have been provided with it seems that Leese will continue to have the large sway of the Devo (devolutionary budget) mayoral power and you will be pushed out to the outer regions. Maybe this is why Oldham and Rochdale were mooted as potential places for shelters. Will you have any real Mayoral power or is this just a token?
Please, all we want is some honest conversation then we can move forward — here’s some for you, Leese is a snake in the grass. A man concerned with lining developers’ pockets and laughing in the face of those with real issues (yes we have people who experienced that from him) He’s shafted Manchester’s working classes and by the sounds of it he’s trying to shaft you. Ditch him and join real Mancunians.
With regards to the quote, at least we are speaking the same language Andy. Why not get together at the Cornerhouse, we can open the cinema and have a proper conversation. No rehearsed questions just you, the squatters, Network Rail, GMHA and any other organisation with an interest?

Burnham, whose star power as a former Labour MP, cabinet member, and failed leadership contender helped parachute him into the mayorality this month, has landed inside a political circus no less vicious than the one he left in Westminster. Between them Leese, Bernstein and Karney are big dogs in Manchester politics and have been heavily criticised for their roles in “reinventing” the city as an attempted London clone, complete with dodgy luxury tower redevelopment deals and disregard for working class needs.
Observers such as Manchester Shield and some of the MAN squatters have been left extremely skeptical that Burnham will make a dent in what they call the “Decoy Dynasty” of existing vested interests at Manchester Town Hall. The former said:

I did not vote for Burnham to appoint Leese! Strategy or complicity? Leese of questionable property positions/biases, an autocrat who in our opinion and experience seems to loathe citizens’ opinions and always stonewall concerns and questions! He has never even tried with so many campaigners. It truly angers me.

While homelessness campaigner Chris Blaine told Salford Star:

15% of his salary is hardly a year’s rent for a handful of homeless people, and I would say to Andy Burnham, ‘Sack your Mayoral Fund because it isn’t going to make any difference at all. Burnham’s just rolled up with the old boys to carry on what the old boys were doing, and we’re going to see more towers, more homeless and more destitution all in the name of gentrification and profit.

The Cornerhouse squatters, now numbering 50 people, have picked up significant local support over the last 19 weeks, putting on local arts nights with Loose Space and raising awareness about the city’s ongoing and worsening housing crisis. People living at the site have been on high alert for signs of another eviction attempt and have offered to vacate peacefully if Network Rail agrees to a compromise by helping six homeless people onto the Inspiring Change: Housing First initiative.

This article first appeared at Freedom News
Pic: FT CC2.0

Posted By

Rob Ray
May 18 2017 11:35


Attached files


May 31 2017 14:51

Leese and the Labour party bosses at Manchester Council are no friends of their own workers (whats left of their number) either. Don't expect Andy Burnham to make any big changes to benefit the homeless, the renters or workers generally in Greater Manchester. The ''squat everything'' slogan at the old 'Cornerhouse' venue got a few cheers during the passing May Day march recently but we are still a long way off the sort of working class resurgence of struggle that might start to move closer to the reality of that.

May 31 2017 13:06

Burnham's Salford Mayor to lead on his strategy for more 'affordable' housing and solving the homeless crisis.
This is the reality of the Salford Housing strategy largely reflected in Manchester also:
I'm afraid Labour politicians are slaves to 'the market' when as now they are telling us they can control it.

Jul 11 2017 13:31
Aug 28 2017 13:44

And so it goes on as here again in Salford where some people know how to fix the odds in any bet to their advantage!

Nov 7 2017 17:15

The governments definition of ' affordable housing' doesn't make it affordable to many working class people but even that is rarely delivered these days as the record of Manchester and Salford Council's demonstrates. See here;

Dec 21 2017 18:58

Manchester Plan C have recently been looking to set up a 'branch' of the ACORN private tenants union that has been active with some limited success dealing with 'rogue' private landlords in Sheffield and Bristol. Some more information including a link to a BBC video about them here:

Dec 26 2017 15:10

In addition to organising attempts by such as ACORN, squatting mostly empty commercial property continues as one limited response by others across Greater Manchester to their unmet housing needs as reported here: plus other updates later.

Jun 19 2018 14:45

And here an excluded lone homeless person protests outside a north west homeless conference:

Jun 19 2018 15:52

Thanks for the tip Spikymike.
Just posted the link on the communist anarchists Twitter thing.