Socialist Worker

Hundreds-strong housing demo piles pressure onto Haringey Labour council

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2573

 

On the march against social cleansing

On the march against social cleansing (Pic: Guy Smallman)


An up to 500-strong housing demonstration increased the pressure on Haringey council today, Saturday. 

The Labour-run council plans to redevelop seven estates in the north London borough through the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV). This is a £2 billion joint project between the council and property developer Lendlease. 

Opposition to the HDV has split the local Labour party. A local Labour member told Socialist Worker, "The campaign is about mobilising local people and helping them to understand what is at stake.

"There's been no proper consultation so people don't understand the threat.” 

The council has told tenants that they will have the right to return after the redevelopment. But when tenants come back they will be on private five year tenancies, not lifetime council tenancies.

Paul Burnham from Haringey Defend Council Housing spoke at the beginning of the demonstration.”The council tell us we have the right to return, but they tell Lendlease something else," he said.

Residents on estates in the borough are organising to undermine the council's narrative. Franklin from the Northumberland Park estate said, “ “We're fighting back but we need your help. 

"If we organise we can get more done than if we just bow down to the council."

The council has said 40 percent of new homes built through the HDV will be “affordable". But that includes rents at 80 percent of market rates and the Tories' £450,000 starter homes. 

But 48 percent of households in the borough have either no savings or are in debt.

The HDV is the biggest redevelopment project in Britain.

Pushed 

But the local housing campaign has already pushed other councils in London to think twice about similar schemes. The Labour run council in Camden, north London, has said it will not follow the Haringey route.

Sian Berry, a Green Party councillor in Camden, told the demonstration, "You've influenced what has happened in Camden. 

“Local people need to be involved in what happens on their estates.” 

An activist-led judicial review against the HDV is set to take place on 25 and 26 October at the Royal Courts of Justice. Campaigners have called a protect outside at 9.30am on the first day.

The council has acknowledged its proposals will hit black and ethnic minority people the hardest. 

A council document has a clear message to tenants—"Earn more or move out.” “The ability of local people to afford the new homes being built is dependent on them increasing their incomes to a sufficient level to afford the new homes,” it said. 

School student Abdi Qani was on the protest with his friends from the Northumberland Park estate. "We've made friends in the neighbourhood,” he told Socialist Worker. “If we get split up from our friends it will be terrible.

"We've come to support our community and make sure the demolition doesn't go ahead."

The campaign against the HDV can win. 

Protests and organisation on estates have caused a crisis for the local Labour Party. The Labour left has made gains against the right in the selection process for council candidates that is currently underway.

Further protests and organisation on he estates can put more pressure onto Labour. 

Crucially the campaign has pulled ordinary people from the local area into political activity, many for the first time. Building on that success can be a strong counterweight to the council's misinformation campaign—and force it to back down. 


Tory housing minister Alok Sharma has announced changes to the compulsory purchase order (CPO) process.

Last week he claimed, “This government is committed to making compulsory purchase simpler, fairer and faster.”

The news doesn’t bode well for campaigners fighting regeneration plans across London and in cities across Britain.

CPOs are often used to force residents and leaseholders out of their homes.

They can then be given a fraction of the value of their homes, or rehoused miles away.

CPOs can occasionally be used against the rich to make way for social housing, although this is becoming increasingly rare.

The new guidance document does not force councils to follow its few positive recommendations. Instead it advises “acquiring authorities” to “consider” proposals about “minimum level of compensation”.


Campaigners in Defend Council Housing and Axe the Housing Act have called a summit on Saturday 25 November. Called under the slogan, “After Grenfell —we demand safe homes for all,” it will discuss the way forward for the housing movement.

The summit will take place from 11am to 5pm at Hamilton House, London, WC1H 9BD


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