Cameron challenged on Leeds ‘sink’ estates proposal

PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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A senior councillor has challenged David Cameron to visit Leeds and see for himself the work being done to regenerate the city’s housing estates.

The Prime Minister last week unveiled plans for a £140m scheme to bulldoze dozens of so-called ‘sink’ estates across the country and replace them with better quality housing.

Coun Richard Lewis.

Coun Richard Lewis.

But Mr Cameron’s comments were criticised today by Coun Richard Lewis, executive member for regeneration, transport and planning on Labour-run Leeds City Council.

Coun Lewis said: “Through careful management of our housing funds and rental income we have managed to make significant investment in council housing.

“I simply don’t recognise the language of ‘sink’ estates when it comes to Leeds and I don’t think we should write off entire areas and the people that live in them.

“Of course some estates have challenges, but so do many areas of private rented accommodation.”

He added: “In fact, I would be happy to show David Cameron or any government minister who wanted to look at our successes and the areas that seriously need to be regenerated.”

Coun Lewis’s words were echoed by Coun Debra Coupar, the council’s executive member for communities, who said: “You only need to look at the transformation in Little London, Beeston Hill and Holbeck to see what can be done with existing buildings and a measured approach to demolitions.”

Mr Cameron believes the brutal high-rise towers that are part of the landscape of many British cities encourage drug abuse and gang culture and also contributed to the riots that swept the country in 2011.

He said last week: “The mission here is nothing short of social turnaround, and with massive estate regeneration, tenants protected, and land unlocked for new housing all over Britain, I believe we can tear down anything that stands in our way.”