The planned redevelopment of east London will carve out local people. The plans, and the lack of consultation, show how little democracy and representation lies at the heart of the New Labour councils which run the area. Sarah Ruiz, a Respect councillor in Newham, spoke to Socialist Worker about the impact on local communities.
Various parts of the borough are facing redevelopment. The council have transferred the council housing to an Arms Length Management Organisation (Almo).
The tenants weren’t consulted about this and there was no ballot.
In Canning Town 17,000 households are being moved. It is being engineered so these people can never return to the area. The council is destroying the community. We will never get a sense of community back in the area.
People don’t like what is happening. The council is riding roughshod over them.
There will be 7,000 homes built, with some being housing association. Anybody who wants to come back will have to go into housing association homes and lose the benefits of being a council tenant.
If we don’t have council housing we will lose the diversity of the area. Families won’t return as they will put down roots in the areas to which they are moved.
Some are being moved within Newham, while others have been promised homes in Southend.
This also means that anyone waiting to be moved in Newham won’t be able to housed because the people being moved out of Canning Town will take priority.
A report into the Thames Gateway project has said that all the energies are put into the new communities and no effort is put into people who are there.
People in the area almost seem paralysed because of the machinery of the council. It treats people with contempt and never gives any answers. At the moment there is no opposition to the Labour council as there are only four non-Labour councillors at the moment.
Newham’s mayor, Sir Robin Wales, makes all the decisions.
But Respect aims to change all this at the upcoming council elections in May. We are standing in 60 council seats.
With Respect standing in so many seats it gives people hope that there is opposition. This has to happen.
I believe we can win a number of seats this time if we put in the work.
We have to win the votes of people who are bitter with New Labour and the people who don’t vote.
If we harness that we can win a number of seats.