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Families want out of 'Basra' HOUSING: Daily terror on doomed estate.

Byline: By Tony Deeley

FED-UP townsfolk today claimed they were living in fear while council chiefs dragged their feet over finding them new homes.

Only about 20 houses remain occupied in the Goscote Lodge Crescent area of Walsall, where the borough council has been moving families out to make way for re-development.

Other homes on the estate have either been bulldozed or are boarded up to await demolition.

Remaining residents today claimed they were living in fear after looters broke into empty houses searching for scrap.

Pensioner Kathleen Tipton, who has lived in the area all her life and raised four children, claimed the council had made an "unrealistic" offer for the property, pounds 20,000 less than that from her own valuer.

"That was eight months ago and no-one has been in touch to say what is going on," she said.

"Meanwhile, various people have been breaking into the empty houses after piping and things like that. You just don't know who is roaming the street at night."

Mrs Tipton and her husband John, aged 66, have called on Walsall Council to make up its mind about the property.

"This house is in good condition and we do not want to move at our time of life," Mrs Tipton said.

"It is a big upheaval for us and a lot of heartbreak, but it seems we have no choice."

Resident Melanie Friend said she was waiting for the council's Walsall Housing Group to re-house her.

"It looks like Basra round here. It is no longer safe. We have had looters coming round and breaking into the empty properties and we just want to get out."

Carol Wildman, director of regeneration and development for Walsall Housing Group, said although contractors were doing everything they could to secure the empty properties, they were grappling with anti-social elements and break-ins.

"The demolition will be finished in two to three weeks. Re-housing tenants is a priority, but some people want properties in areas where there is a shortage, and this has caused delays."

Ms Wildman added: "The council is duty bound by law to offer full market value for homes. What has been offered would be in line with current statutory regulations."
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Apr 23, 2008
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