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Last Updated: Monday, 28 July, 2003, 05:19 GMT 06:19 UK
The regeneration Games?

By David Green
BBC News Online, Manchester

Ben Street, Clayton, Manchester
Ben Street is around half a mile from the Sports City complex
Around the corner from Manchester's impressive Commonwealth Games stadium, lies a row of terraced houses.

Red brick shining out against the mid-summer gloom, they were once the epitome of a northern inner-city community - classic Coronation Street, in fact.

But now Ben Street's main features are the grim metal shutters over windows and an eerie, ghost-town like silence.

The contrast with the Sports City complex just half a mile away, where much of the Commonwealth Games events were staged, is striking.

Now many residents are wondering whether the Games - hailed as a success when they were staged a year ago - will prove equally as successful in improving their lives in the long term.

The city council certainly seems to think so.

Only last week it announced the Games had created 6,300 new full time jobs, an annual boost of 18m in tourist income and 570m regeneration money for east Manchester.

I moved back here from London because of the Games - Keith Cassanova

But for Bill Booth, who has lived in the suburb of Clayton for 27 years, questions remain.

He said: "I live in Heather Street and the state of some of the homes that we live next to, that belong to registered social landlords and private landlords, are quite atrocious.

"Who would want to buy one of these homes with shutters up, roofs off, gutters leaking, damp throughout the house.

"The council could put some of the regeneration money into these properties and do them up."

To be fair to councillors, revamp plans for the area have been refused by residents because they fear compulsory purchase orders would mean them taking out second mortgages to pay for new homes.

A brand new canalside apartment block is also currently being built - but Mr Booth says they are not the answer.

He said: "The new jobs are 100% welcome and I don't mind the new apartments being built, which will bring new people into the area.

Bill Booth
Who would want to purchase one of these homes with shutters up, roofs off, gutters leaking, damp throughout the house
Bill Booth, of Clayton, Manchester
"But my big fear is that these new properties will be too expensive for the locals.

"All of this regeneration, is it for the people who have lived here most of their lives?"

Jim Larkin, who lives in Bank Street, Clayton, has similar fears.

He said: "I could see poorer people being forced out into poorer areas and the problems we've had here being replicated elsewhere.

"I just hope that the whole feeling that came from the games keeps on expanding."

Both men cite the Games as the best thing to happen to east Manchester in decades.

And in nearby Beswick, people like Barbara Taylor, who runs a Homewatch group, have mainly positive things to say.

She said: "It's put Beswick on the map and made people realise that we aren't bandit country anymore.

"There's been a lot of money spent on the private and council properties which will be transferred to a social landlord.

City of Manchester Stadium
The City of Manchester Stadium dominates the skyline

"Also, while I'm not too sure people feel a sense of pride at this time, they aren't talking about moving away anymore.

"They can see a future for themselves and for their children."

Veronica Powell, 74, who has lived in Beswick all of her life, is equally optimistic.

She said: "It was absolutely wonderful that we got the Commonwealth Games, it's the beginning of what's going to continue for this area.

"Ten years ago we had a really bad time because we had horrible flats and maisonettes, and a big fear of crime.

"The rebuilding that they are doing and the hotels that are going to spring up will bring a different kind of people in, but it's going to bring money into the area.

"Once we get the Metro [trams] here, going into Manchester for work will be easy peasy.

"It's going to be quite profitable for us, I think."

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