Up to 1,000 tenants, residents and their supporters marched on Haringey Civic Centre in north London last night, Monday.
A cabinet meeting of the Labour-run council was debating the finalising of the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV). This £2 billion “regeneration” plan would see social cleansing across seven estates in the north London borough.
The HDV is a 50/50 joint company between Haringey council and property development firm Lendlease.
The company has admitted to fraud in the US and has blacklisted workers.
Protesters at the demonstration last night brushed the lines of police and security guards aside. Chants of “No social cleansing, no HDV” rang out as dozens of protesters shook the civic centre’s glass door.
As the protesters threatened to break in, councillors kicked out reporters and observers to hold a secret session of the council. Disgracefully councillors voted for the HDV, but it’s likely to go to a judicial review.
Lendlease released a 140 page document last weekend detailing some of its plans for the borough. Paul Burnham from Haringey Defend Council Housing (DCH) told Socialist Worker, “Before the HDV had effectively been set up, Lendlease had said already no to vast swathes of social housing in the borough.”
The council had previously claimed that their 50 percent stake in the HDV would stop this sort of social cleansing from happening.
A further analysis of documents carried out by Haringey DCH showed that over 5,000 homes are up for demolition.
Just over 400 homes are safe thanks to local activists’ campaigning.
At the meeting on Monday evening executive councillor for housing Alan Strickland said he could give “no guarantee” about the possibility of infamous “poor doors” on “redeveloped” estates. That means that there will be one entrance for the rich and one for the poor.
Protester Adam told Socialist Worker, “We need to challenge the privatisation of social housing and social cleansing.
“More and more councillors and MPs are coming out against the HDV.”
The local Labour MPs Catherine West and David Lammy voiced their concern in a letter to council leader Clare Kober in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.
They said they had concerns about a range of issues including the affordability of the homes, the bidding process, the financial risks to the council and the lack of oversight.
They further demanded that the council ensure any new buildings are fire safe and argued that if the buildings' safety measures were not implemented the council would "act as no responsible local authority would.”
They said, "In our view no decision should be taken on the HDV until a fully updated business case is evaluated and further work is carried out by an external adviser or auditor to analyse and review the risks relating to the HDV."
While this is weak given the scale of the assault on social housing, it’s more ammunition for local activists to hurl at the council. As Adam said, “We can bring these Blairite councillors into line.
“The Labour Party on a local level needs to start listening to people for once.”
If they actually listened they would hear people like Rose who lives on the Northumberland Park estate.
“I’ve lived here for 30 years,” she told Socialist Worker. “And I’m not moving for anyone."