Friday, 22 April 2011

Only the rich have 'gated communities' - elsewhere it's called safe housing!

Whenever the words “gated community” are mentioned the huffiness is palpable. How dare those rich people separate themselves from the rest of us. I mean, what about all that vital social capital destroyed by such selfishness:

Speaking after the meeting Councillor Patrick Codd said there was no other way forward, despite his fears of a divided community.

He said: “Unfortunately we were in a situation when we were going to High Court to talk about a few feet of land. It would have been difficult because there is no guide. This is something very very difficult to prove.

“I am opposed to gated communities, they breed fear of crime and they are antisocial. I think it’s a great shame.

“I have held this up for as long as I can; I am totally opposed to the erection of gates.”

I really don’t get it – if my neighbours and I decided to install gates on the drive up to The Nook that would be our business. It should not be any business of the council. And what exactly is wrong with these ‘gated communities’?

Many sociologists bemoan the growing popularity of gated communities. They say they're exclusionary, elitist and anti-social. Most of that criticism targets the wealthy.

And there we have it – the problem is that it’s rich folk who choose to live in gated communities, cut off from all you riff-raff! Or is it, are we getting it wrong?

Birmingham City Council owns over 400 high rise blocks and has tried several approaches to improving conditions for residents living in the blocks. These have included the installation of controlled entry systems, converting some tower blocks to sheltered housing and experimenting with single generation lettings policies for particular blocks. More recently, the Council has been developing a programme of concierge schemes for its most problematic high rise blocks.

Sounds to me like the creation of ‘gated communities’ – on the one hand we have councillors opposing the initiative of wealthy residents, landlords and agents in providing secure places to lives while on the other we have public bodies installing those self-same schemes in social housing.


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