Socialist Worker

Residents' rage forces Grenfell council to back off from ending secure tenancies

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2615

Demanding justice for Grenfell

Demanding justice for Grenfell (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Residents have forced Kensington and Chelsea council to retreat from plans that would threaten their secure council tenancies. 

The council issued a letter to residents on the Lancaster West estate, in the shadow of Grenfell Tower. 

They were moved into temporary accommodation following the blaze in west London, that killed at least 71 people. 

The letter told residents they may have to move out of temporary accommodation. It went on to say that if they didn’t move out they may have their secure tenancies for their homes on Lancaster West taken away.

The council’s cabinet was due to vote on Wednesday of last week to vote on a proposal for a 30 September deadline for the switch.

Some 73 households remain in temporary accommodation over a year since the fire.

There are any number of reasons people may not want to move back to live in the shadow of Grenfell Tower. Why should anyone be forced to relive the horror of watching their neighbours die?

That’s the decision being forced on people had the vote been passed.

On Tuesday people packed a meeting of the Grenfell Scrutiny Committee to demand the change doesn’t go ahead.

A petition was circulated locally and received 440 signatures, including that of local Labour MP Emma Dent-Coad.

Removed

Within the space of 24 hours the council had backed down and removed that item from the cabinet meeting’s agenda.

Joe Delaney sat on the Grenfell Scrutiny Committee until recently and was at Tuesday’s meeting, which 300 people attended.

“They haven’t guaranteed that people will get like-for-like tenancies,” he told Socialist Worker. “The council expect people to just take their word on this.”

He pointed out that the council has done nothing to deserve that trust.

“The other issue is they have said it’s too expensive to maintain the current arrangement. But if they moved people quicker then they wouldn’t have to pay for temporary accommodation.

“They’re quite happy to pay £330,000 on their own legal fees, but when it comes to putting this right they’re not so interested.”

“Why should anyone from the estate be worse off because of this?” asked Joe.

At Tuesday’s scrutiny committee meeting one resident asked, “Why is it we feel like we are being forced to move on?”

Although the council did not vote on the 30 September deadline last Wednesday—it still could, the danger is still there.

The public rage that greeted the council’s attempted attack forced it to back down. It shows how ordinary people can fight—not just against council attacks, but also for justice for those who died and in the fire and for safe, secure housing.


Victory for estate residents makes a big splash in Bath

Residents of the Foxhill estate in Bath are celebrating a victory in their legal fight to stop their homes being demolished.

Bath housing association Curo had won initial outline planning permission in July 2017 to demolish up to 542 homes and build up to 700 new ones.

Curo pulled out from the deal after residents won permission to take the council to court.

Residents opposed the decision because it could have disproportionately affected vulnerable people and other groups who face oppression.

High Court judge Mr Justice Lewis found that the council’s policy “did not specifically address” the plan’s impact on “protected groups”.

Impact assessments are supposed to be carried out to protect groups of people from unfair treatment.

Summing up Justice Lewis said, “The grant of outline planning permission on 30 November 2017 was unlawful, and that outline planning permission will be quashed.”


Tories delay green paper

The Tories have delayed the publication of the social housing green paper yet again.

They had promised to get it out before parliament broke up for the summer.

MPs from Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens have written a letter to local government minister James Brokenshire.

It says the delay “demonstrates an abdication of duty by the government” and points out that a solution to the housing crisis is desperately needed.

Looking to the Tories for change over social housing is wishful thinking.


Ebury estate protest 

Activists protested outside Westminster council’s offices in central London on Monday night against plans to demolish the Ebury estate in the borough.

Residents previously backed a plan which involved refurbishment rather than demolition. But the council voted that option down as not “attractive to developers”.

They maintain people will have the right to return to the estate on the same tenancies.

But redevelopment projects across London have shown that developers and councils should not be taken at their word. The council’s Labour group has raised concerns about the plans.


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