Tenants and residents in Haringey, north London, are fighting plans that could bulldoze seven council estates.
The Labour-led council is in the process of setting up the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) to push through the regeneration of vast swathes of the borough.
The redevelopment plans, worth £2 billion, are the biggest of their kind so far and represent a dangerous new model for local authorities to knock down what little council housing there is left..
On Tuesday this week, a council sub-committee supported a report critical of aspects of the plans.
That report pointed to the “lack of transparency with regard to meeting structures, particularly in relation to rights of attendance at HDV meetings.” It also criticises “a fundamental democratic deficit” and “the absence of any sufficient contingency plans to mitigate the risks of a scheme of such size and scale.”
The scheme is causing splits inside the Labour Party, and some members joined a lobby of 100 people on Tuesday.
“The council has not been clear with us,” said Defend Council Housing (DCH) activist Jacob. He is a council tenant on the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham, one of the estates set to be demolished if the council gets its way.
“It’s unacceptable,” said Jacob, addressing the crowds outside the meeting. “My message is, ‘Be honest with us.’ We deserve to be treated with respect by the councillors.”
If the HDV goes ahead it will be a 50/50 venture between the council and a property developer. On the shortlist are firms such as Lendlease, the property development company that was responsible for the redevelopment of the Heygate estate in Southwark, south London.
That project saw some tenants kicked out of their homes. Some leaseholders were not given enough money to buy equivalent homes in the borough.
Moriam has been living on the Northumberland Park estate in Haringey, also up for demolition, for 29 years. She told Socialist Worker, “I’m not moving. This is where my children grew up.
“There’s a community spirit and we look after each other. If I leave, I won’t be able to afford somewhere else. I’ll have to move out of London.”
Inside the meeting Paul Burnham from Haringey DCH tore apart the council’s proposals, pointing out they don’t add up even in their own terms.
The council is rattled by the strength of opposition to the plans. Council leader Clare Kobler sent an email to Labour Party members in the targeted areas in a desperate attempt to win back lost credibility.
“Some estates make such poor use of the land they’re on… the waste of space cannot be justified,” it reads. Disgracefully, she blames vulnerable people for the disrepair of council estates rather than the council and central government’s lack of funding.
Tenants and residents are demanding the right to decide what happens to their homes. They want the council to suspend the proposals and to give a vote to those who would be affected by them.
Activists can increase the pressure on Haringey Labour councillors by lobbying their meeting on 26 January, demanding they vote against the redevelopment and getting involved in the anti-regeneration campaign.