Campaigners occupying the Thurlow Lodge community hall on the south London Aylesbury estate are the latest stumbling block to Southwark Labour council’s redevelopment plan.
The Divine Rescue charity serves food to homeless and low-income people there.
One week into the occupation, activists, tenants and service workers held a solidarity party to raise funds last Sunday. The Axe The Housing Act (ATHA) campaign and trade union branches sent donations and messages of solidarity.
The charity is set to meet council representatives this week. The council’s move to evict Divine Rescue follows its attempts to clear leaseholders out of the same building, Wendover House.
It issued Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) to eight leaseholders, but were defeated by campaigners in the courts—twice.
Within three days of reiterating the council’s support for closing the centre, councillor Fiona Colley had climbed down.
“It will be some time before Wendover is demolished and the council wants to see Thurlow Lodge continuing in community use,” she announced.
Valerie from Divine Rescue said, “When we were on our own we didn’t realise there were so many people who felt the same way and would help us. We don’t feel so isolated anymore.”
Beverley, one of the leaseholders, said, “Southwark council had taken our homes. But together we’re stronger, together we can win.”
London Mayor's vague report is not enough
Campaigners met last week to discuss responses to a Mayor of London report into estate regeneration.
The report fails to specify where funding should come from. Nor does it mention the need to build council housing.
Its promises are ambiguously worded.
It is still in the consultation phase until 14 March. Tenants, residents and campaigners should send responses to the consultation before this date.
The central demand should be that tenants and residents should get a vote on what happens to their homes.
Next campaign meeting— Thursday 26 January, 7pm, Bread and Roses, 68 Clapham Manor St, London SW4 6DZ