The movement against the demolition of London estates took important steps forward last week.
Over 100 people joined a meeting in Haringey, north London, against the redevelopment of seven estates in the Labour-run borough. It was an angry meeting—and for good reason.
One speaker told the meeting, “Plans to demolish the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham began after the riots in 2011. This isn’t just about changing the houses, it’s about changing the people.”
At previous meetings council officers claimed that people won’t be forced out. But local residents, tenants and activists are fighting the threat of thousands of people losing their homes.
In February the council voted to enter into a 50-50 partnership with property developer Lendlease.
The firm was sued by New York City for some £43 million after a long term scam in which they overcharged the city and other firms by tens of millions of dollars.
One person told the meeting last week, “If Lendlease can screw New York City, they’re going to roll over Haringey like a bulldozer.”
And a recent submission to a local government watchdog shows that developers of 46 sites across London have dropped commitments to provide “affordable housing”. Developers’ financial and legal clout often far outweighs that of councils.
Tenants in the Labour-run borough Southwark, south London, are still reeling from the deal the council did with Lendlease.
All 51 new homes in the South Gardens part of the Elephant Park development there were sold to private investors, a recent Transparency International report showed.
Thousands of people were turfed out from the Heygate estate to make way for the development.
The same report shows that private investors have snapped up between 50 and 100 percent of the units of 14 developments across London.
However, it plays up the fact that some investors aren’t from Britain. As if it’s better to be kicked out of your home by the local rich.
In South Gardens homes sold for up to £1.5 million.
The amounts leaseholders were paid for their homes after being forced out was well below the cost of flats on the new estate.
On Wednesday of last week some 40 people protested outside the development.
Tanya Murat from Southwark Defend Council Housing (DCH) said, “The way to fight social cleansing is to involve the local communities who are affected. We need to use this election campaign to fight for our housing rights.”
A battle of bank accounts
Tenants of One Housing in West Ham, east London, are fighting to withhold a rent hike of up to 40 percent demanded by the housing association.
One Housing had attempted to force all tenants to pay by direct debit—where it takes money straight from their accounts—rather than standing orders that they control.
But a majority of the tenants have moved their payments to standing order and have now stopped paying the extra 40 percent. They sent a letter to One Housing last month informing the housing association that they are in formal dispute with them over the increase.
And the campaign is gaining support across the local area.
Two Newham Labour councillors attended the campaign’s inaugural meeting.
NUT union general secretary Kevin Courtney has written a letter to One Housing supporting the tenants.