Resistance to the destruction of London’s council and social housing is picking up.
Tenants facing eviction are fighting back in the run-up to Tory mayor Boris Johnson’s budget on Monday of next week.
In Brixton, south London, residents of the Guinness Trust estate occupied an empty flat with the help of housing activists on Sunday of last week.
They all face eviction by April to make way for “redevelopment”.
Betty has lived there for ten years. She told Socialist Worker, “My children go to school here, but they want everyone out. They are ripping us apart. It’s absolutely disgusting.”
Initially landlords Guinness claimed they had no obligation to help anyone find new homes. After years of campaigning they are now trying to rehouse people—but outside London.
“What’s happening is gentrification, it’s social cleansing,” said Betty.
“They know we won’t be able to afford the lovely new flats they’re building. They’re just getting rid of all the working class people to bring in the rich.”
Occupiers protested outside Guinness’ office on Monday of this week, and were set to resist the first of the “phase two” evictions this Thursday.
Betty said, “We are going to resist eviction. We’ll be outside, and we want people to join us. The more of us the better—united we can win.”
It was a similar story in Barnet, north west London. Supporters assembled on the Sweets Way estate on Monday and Tuesday of this week to stop the latest in a series of evictions.
Campaigner Janett Evans told Socialist Worker, “We’ve already had three families evicted in a week. It’s just disgusting.
“One was offered somewhere three bus journeys away from where their children go to school.
“Another was sent to Watford—and when they turned that down it was just ‘OK then, off you go’. They have nowhere to go.”
Sweets Way is a former army estate. Landlord the Notting Hill Housing Trust wants to redevelop it. Some residents are being sent as far as Birmingham.
Labour councillor Amy Trevethan told Socialist Worker, “What’s happening to social housing tenants in London is just awful.
“They are being shipped out to make room for luxury new-builds that may be snapped up by buyers who leave them empty.”
Council estates around London also face demolition. There is resistance here too.
An ongoing occupation on the Aylesbury estate in Southwark was in court on Monday of this week.
Southwark Defend Council Housing has called a protest on Sat 14 March. This is just one of many estate-based campaigns around London. A number of them held “We love council housing” events on Saturday of last week.
And more than 100 protesters staged a mock eviction outside an awards dinner for bailiffs on Wednesday of last week.