We interrupt the usual slow dribble of medievalness to bring you a very important notice. Please read to the end, and please take a few minutes out of your day to add your voice.
When I came home from my trip to England the other day, I saw this attached to a lamppost outside my house:
This is the notice that the council are going ahead with compulsory purchase orders for houses on my street, so that they can be torn down to build a giant Tesco. This means a lot of things: the death of even more small businesses, replacing well-paid jobs with low-wage ones, and all the things ‘big box’ stores to do small towns, but on a very personal note, it means that if they time it wrong, my housemates and I will end up homeless.
This town is already famous for its housing shortage and predatory renting practices. (Obviously not all landlords do this, but enough do that it’s a real problem the university and council have had to address.) As I understand it, we have to be given six months notice before having to move, but for international students who aren’t able to take on a full-term contract, our options will be very limited.
I would therefore be extremely personally grateful if absolutely everyone who sees this would take just a few minutes to write to the following addresses. Then ask as many people as you can to do so as well. Even if you do think our little town needs a Tesco, and even if you think forcing people out of their homes via compulsory purchase is an acceptable way to go about it, please still take the time to write and ask them not to let any development take place until September 2014 or after. This will give the current tenants on our street (most of whom are student renters) the time to either find new homes, or finish their degrees and leave Aberystwyth. (It will also leave the WWI drill hall in place for the centenary of that event, which is drawing some attention.)
To be honest, I doubt we can stop the whole thing (though I’m game to try); when my hometown kept WalMart out back in 1996 they had unanimous local support and a really good lawyer. But I do think it’s possible and reasonable to be able to finish out the summer. I already don’t know what’s going to happen to me after this PhD is done, and the idea that somebody might come and tear my house down while I’m trying to find a job is frankly terrifying.
It says: ‘Any objection to the order must be made in writing to the Welsh Ministers for Planning and include the title of the order, the grounds of objection, and the person’s address interest in the property.’
The title of the order is ‘COMPULSORY PURCHASE OF LAND AT MILL STREET CAR PARK, GLYNDWR ROAD AND RIVERSIDE TERRACE, ABERYSTWYTH. Even if you aren’t local (I very much want all my European and American friends to write as well) you can still state an interest in the property: tell them you are a concerned citizen/friend/family member/colleague of an Aberystwyth University student and don’t want to see them homeless. I also think that a number of international people sitting up and taking notice might have an impact all on its own.
Send that to:
The Welsh Ministers, Planning
2nd floor South
cardiff CF10 3NQ
Snail mail is better for this, but postage is costly, so their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. (Or send a copy to each.)
Then change the word ‘Ministers’ to ‘Councillors’ and send it to:
Ceredigion County Council
And/or by email to email@example.com.
Please, even if you never join in campaigns or pass things around, make an exception for this. Pass it around to everyone you know, link it all over the place. It’s not slacktivism or a petition nobody will ever read. Your participation could make a real, genuine difference in whether three hardworking people (not to mention the rest of our street) have a roof over their head in eight months’ time, and you will have our fervant and heartfelt gratitude.