Becci Heagney, Youth Fight for Jobs East Midlands organiser
2,000 young people in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire can't find work. Over 9,000 people in Mansfield are on the council housing waiting list. So why have building workers been thrown on the dole and work abandoned on 87 new flats and four houses?
For 100 years the ShoeCo site in the town centre made shoes and boots, at one time employing 1,000 people. It closed in 2004 and redevelopment was announced in 2006 "as part of a multi-million pound scheme to revamp Mansfield".
Five years later, the part-built flats are a symbol of a failed capitalist system. Last month work stopped when the developer went bust. Most of the external work is completed, although a supplier has repossessed some windows. Months of work are still needed for electricians, plumbers, joiners, plasterers and painters. This work could include proper training for young people, under trade union supervision.
But the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) refused the developer a new loan because the bankers have no confidence that the flats will be sold at a profit.
Yet in neighbouring streets there are hundreds of old terraced houses, many in need of modernisation and repair that private landlords refuse to carry out. Many people would jump at the chance of moving into a new flat.
RBS paid out almost £1 billion in bonuses last year and is paying another £500 million this year. Its chief executive is 'rewarded' with £6.8 million a year. RBS is 84% state-owned, after £20 billion of taxpayers' money was used to stop it collapsing in 2008.
East Midlands Youth Fights for Jobs members who took part in the Jarrow March for Jobs have organised a protest demanding Mansfield district council take over the ShoeCo site and finish the work. The new homes should be kept in public ownership and let at affordable rents, instead of being sold to private landlords.
With public service workers joining building workers on the dole queues, it's clear that fewer people will get mortgages to buy new flats! All cuts in public services must be reversed. It's bailouts for bankers and dole for workers. Why should we pay for a crisis caused by big business?
Join the protest:
Jobs and homes - not cuts
Saturday 26 November, 11am
Mansfield Market Place
Marching to ShoeCo building site