Socialist Worker

Can Labour councils defy the Tories' new Housing Bill?

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2504

Jeremy Corbyn speaks to the crowd outside London Metropoiltan universitys Holloway Road campus in north London

Jeremy Corbyn speaks to the crowd outside London Metropoiltan university's Holloway Road campus in north London (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The first housing protest since the Tories’ new Housing and Planning Act became law took place in Islington, north London, last Saturday.

Some 100 people marched to demand the site of Holloway Prison is used for social housing and a women’s centre, instead of being sold off for luxury housing.

Justice minister Michael Gove wants to sell off London’s prisons and use the proceeds to build new “super-prisons” outside London.

New London mayor Sadiq Khan has promised that any new build in London will include 50 percent social housing.

Michelle Mansfield from the Reclaim Justice Network told Socialist Worker, “When public land has been sold off in Islington, developers have reneged on their promise to build social housing.”

Islington is one of the Labour councils that rightly joined campaigns against the Tories’ new law.

Council leader Paul Smith told Socialist Worker that “we’ll demand that our land be used for us”. He added, “The Labour council will oppose the Housing Bill with every inch of its strength.”

This is a welcome pledge. But he wouldn’t say how Labour would do this. He went on to say that, “I’m a firm believer in not shooting until you see the whites of their eyes.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attended the demonstration.

He told Socialist Worker, “I’ll be talking to councils about the best way to oppose the bill. There may well be legal challenges before that.

“Reversing the Act will prevent the remaining high value properties in London from being sold off.”

But by the time Labour gets the chance to reverse the Act, the damage will have been done. We need action now.

The Kill the Housing Bill campaign is holding a national planning meeting this Saturday at 10am at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, 235 Shaftesbury Ave, London, WC2H 8EP. There is a national demonstration on 18 June.

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