AFTER A three-year battle, Tooley Street council tenants in south London have forced councillors to abandon plans to chuck out tenants and demolish their homes.
Outside a full council meeting tenants unveiled banners opposing demolition and demanding people be put before profit. A full gallery inside the meeting heard Andrew Ecclestone, chair of the Tooley Street tenants' organisation, argue that "regeneration" schemes elsewhere had left poor people even poorer.
Tooley Street runs across the largely gentrified north section of the south London borough, near the Thames. Barbara, a resident for 40 years, described it as "like a Berlin Wall, with yuppies who are not part of the community" on one side. The council was eager to destroy the housing because the land could bring in huge sums as high-rent private accommodation.
Michelle Pearce, Southwark's head of housing, had previously said this money was necessary to refurbish other estates, including East Dulwich in the south of the borough.
But East Dulwich tenants were there supporting Tooley Street residents, with a banner opposing all demolition. "The whole point was divide and rule-that's why it is important we stick together," said Richard, a Tooley Street tenant.
This is the second victory for Southwark tenants, who defeated the council's attempts to sell off all its 50,000 council homes in November last year.
- ERIC FRETZ