I just came back at 2345h from the best event I was ever at – apart from demonstrations perhaps. Dario Fo is standing for election in the primaries for mayor of Milano and held a rally today, one week before the voting. It was in the mazda palace – a huge place a bit like Wembley Arena out near the S Cirio stadium, holding about 7000 people and it was full. He’s a candidate of a “Civil List” or red / green people but not directly parties.
The event started at 1800h and went almost continuously for more than 5 hours, with him talking, singing, introducing other people – musicians, politicians, old friends, guests, Ken Livingstone was there as a leading guest, talking through the interpretation of Strathclyde professor Joe Farrell which was really good.
The hall was also full of jugglers, wandering musicians and others…..
The thrust was a tour de force of criticism of how the city is governed, its lack of democracy, the corruption of its administration, the crazy neo-liberalism of policy. Emphasis mostly of traffic, cars and green issues + housing and real estate – other words very much akin to what goes on in the London Social Forum except that we lack anyone like Dario Fo…. It was even illustrated throughout with the most excellent drawings by DF, projected on a big screen. Reminded me of Bill Risebero.
My role was obscure and I am not quite sure why they invited me. All I really did was spemnd a lot of time with journalists and TV in the early stages, before Ken L arrived. That went quite well, I think, but I don’t suppose I’ll ever find out what gets published….. I wrote a short thext which was the basis of the speech, with some brilliant help from Sonia. I’ll add it on here. I’ll also add some pictures.
Notes for Dario Fo press conference;
Michael Edwards 21 01 06
Programme Director, European Property Development and Planning
Bartlett School of Architecture and Planning, UCL (University
College London), and activist in London Social Forum.
European cities face two profound problems: pollution/energy and housing
Business as usual will be a disaster on those issues.
On pollution: The congestion charge really does work. It contributes, along with other measures, to a 15% INCREASE in public transport journeys where the trend across Europe is the other way.
Injuries are also down 10% in 2004 while in GB as a whole they went up 3%
Since february 04 we have been getting steady fall in PM10 (particles which make fog and cause illness) and gains on other pollution too.
Research by Professor David Banister in our faculty, being published next week, shows just what would have to be done to get transport energy down 60% in 20 years. It is dramatic and needs urgent and strong decsisions. The London decisions on congestion charging, privileging “clean” vehicles, persuading us all back onto improved public transport are just what is needed.
On housing we have the general European problem that we get richer but we get LESS able to house ourselves properly – especially in leading cities like London and Milano. Real estate mechanisms are bad for your health.
– rapid growth of prices and rents – faster than incomes
– dramatic decline of renting, growth of Owner-Occupation
– serious (26%) more rent paid by migrants (per m2) than even by natives
– city ceases to be a place where low-income people can afford to stay, especially migrants but also natives
I could also mention (This comes from Sonia Arbaci at the Bartlett…
1) privatisation of municipal/national social housing stock (former IACP) and transfer of stock to region. Plus, the provision of social housing in milan (by municipality and by the region) is scarce or inexistent
2) lack of maintenence of regional social housing stock (managed by ALER – Azienda Lombarda per l’Edilizia Residenziale) and enforcement of privatisation process also for estate with a high rate of absbestos, which should be illegal by law…
ps: in italy there is no national plan for housing. the region is in charge of housing policy and social housing provision/allocation/managment. in lombardy the ‘giunta regionale’ is right wing and is fostering, as expected, owner occupation and marginalisation of affordable and social stock.
(emilia romagna region is developing a far better and progressive way of dealing with housing, including expansion of rental sector, cooperative and other non-profit organisation for renting to immigrants, socio-ethnic mix, etc…) there are good practices in italy, that should be looked at….
3) reduction of cooperative development and other forms of affordable production (quite in use during the ’80s and part of ’90s)
4) the widespread use of ‘piani integrati’, which are proposed/planned by the private (e.g. real estate pirelli) and approved by the municipality constraints any form of affordable housing production…etc…
5) the new large-scale areas of renewal (e.g. garibaldi station and former fiera- most of them in semi-central areas) are promoted uttely for mixed use high-income housing -mainly owner occupation, thus loosing the opportunity for negotiating for affordable proportion of new housing stock, tenure mix, etc….
6)People should remember that there are two very good housing experts both in milan:
Prof. antonio tosi -sociologist (he is very very good and he also deals with the immigrants’ problem. he is/was prof in architecture faculty and director in the ISMU foundation that monitor the situation in lombardy)
Prof. Liliana Padovani (she does not deal with the immigrants’ problem but as far as i know she is highly corcerned about it)