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Back button | Home | News | Dave Shaw writes to Hazel Blears
Added: 8 April 2008

DAVE SHAW TAKES ISSUE WITH HAZEL BLEARS' COMMENTS ON SALTAIRE

From: Dave Shaw, Bracknell
To: Rt Hon Hazel Blears
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

8 April 2008

Your Fabian Lecture

Dear Hazel

In your recent Fabian lecture, in speaking of the 'garden suburb movement', you say:

I personally have more time for this ideal for urban living, than I do for the utopias built for the workers by industrialists such as Saltaire, Bourneville, or Port Sunlight, which I have always felt owed more to paternalism and the aggrandisement of the benefactor, than real concern for the residents”.

May I take issue with your assessment of Saltaire and specifically your assessment of the motives of Titus Salt in his endeavours of 150 years ago.

Firstly any comparison of Saltaire with the Garden City movement should recognize that the former predated the latter by 50 years. Is it not harsh to judge them in an equal light, without allowing for advancement brought by time? Didn’t the Garden City movement learn from, and build on, the progress made in eg Saltaire?

Secondly, and more importantly, your assertion that Salt’s motives “owed more to aggrandisement of the benefactor, than real concern for the residents” is wrong. Salt’s motives in building Saltaire are a matter of record, and more than that – and it’s this that clinches it for me – he poured money into the outstanding educational provisions in the township. Someone bent on self-aggrandisement would not bother to educate – and hence empower – his work force.

Having lived in Bracknell since its early New Town days, I see the evolution of town planning – from New Lanark through to the New Towns (via Saltaire and the garden cities) – as a celebration of progress, and not something to be mean spirited about.

What, one wonders, will commentators be saying about your achievements and motives in 150 years time?

Yours sincerely 

Dave Shaw

Added: 8 April 2008

   

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