Sunday, 27 July 2008

Regeneration Blues

Dedicated to all in Britain and everywhere in the world,
who are being trampled on in the pursuit of progress?
How can we stop this monster machine driven
by the few over the many?

Regeneration Blues

Once upon a time

In days of old

Great minds tried to figure

How to turn metal

Into gold

They dreamed of the day

When a chunk of iron

Could make them rich

Turn junk into treasure

A magic formula

They failed

Never found it

But the news is: it's happened near you.

In the city centres

Along by the canals

And the old railway yards

Land worth a little

Is now worth a lot

The same patch of mud

Sitting under a shed

Under an old shop

Car park or cinema

Has turned into gold.

In the town halls

Councillors get excited:

“That old street

full of shops

run by people from

Africa, Turkey, the Middle East

With flats up above –

Aren't they on short lease

Cos we were once

Going to put a road through there?

That old pool

That old school

Don’t we own that?

You know what?

Get developers in:

No time to wait

Reeee – generate.



Buy to rent

For young professionals

Yo-pros, don't you know.

Change the geography

Change the demography

So the developers arrive

With their brochures

And sharp shoes

Their power points

and bullet points

They've done the sums

they can make it work

If the council plays a part:

If it compensates


Covers losses

Shares the load

Builds a road

It's a partnership

Public private

Private public

The area will be



The deal is done

But the law says 'Consult'

A meeting is held

And on the screen

The derelict sheds

And the crumbling shops

'Look!', they say,

'The area will die.

We'll build towers of steel and glass

To the sky.

'Towers full of the salaried and sleek

Towers with no old people or babies

Towers for people who need gifts and coffee

Only available from brandname shops.

'Transport links will improve

'Say the councillors we elect'

Everyone will benefit, don't object

There'll be a new library.

In there...


'The meeting is noisy

The shopkeepers say

The tenants say

They want to stay

People say

They want the Turkish bread

And the Indian rice.

Someone says that the buildings are old

They could be restored

Why take away memories

They used to make places

Where we could walk about

Squares and cul-de-sacs

Not canyons between tower blocks.

Someone says

We're desperate for places where families can live

Places where kids can play

Clinics on hand, not miles away

And ground floor flats for the old and disabled

The meeting ends in a riot

When one of the councillors

Says: people round here have no ambition

They want to live in a dump

And the people in it

Are the dregs on drugs

It goes to committee

And five men sit and take a vote

It goes 2-2

He's in favour of high-rise

A great leap forward for the community

A revolution in thinking, a retail opportunity.

The shopkeepers and tenants have to quit.

Someone digs in files and papers

And finds that the chairman of the committee

Is on the board of a firm

That will supply the locks

In the high-rise blocks.

To declare an interest

But it's too late to stop.

History doesn't matter

The people who live there don't matter

The people who run shops don't matter

People who need places for people who have kids

Don't matter

Nurseries, clinics, opens spaces, good cheap housing,

Don't matter

Look say the councillors


And they don't mean

Of the developers' bank accounts.

As the blocks go up

It's income up

But it's us who subsidize

Private high-rise

Regeneration is a lie

Regeneration is a lie

Regeneration is



Is degeneration