Respect councillors in Tower Hamlets, east London, have raised concerns over allegations of impersonation and vote manipulation during “housing choice” ballots on two council estates.
The New Labour council wants to sell off the Collingwood and Horwood estates to Eastend Homes, a “registered social landlord”. The results of the ballot were due as Socialist Worker went to press.
According to Abjol Miah, leader of the Respect group on Tower Hamlets council, residents have complained that people claiming to work for Eastend Homes have been to their doors and asked for their ballot papers. In some cases, these people took ballot papers from tenants.
In another case of possible malpractice highlighted by Respect, people identifying themselves as council employees distributed material promoting the transfer.
Meanwhile in a separate campaign in the borough, residents and local Respect councillors Rania Khan, Abdul Munim and Lutfa Begum, protested against the illegal development of the Crossways estate in Bromley-by-Bow.
Residents have spent weeks trying to get Tower Hamlets council to halt the development, which has never received full planning permission. They were aghast at a building appearing within feet of their windows on what used to be a grassy space with cherry trees and a football pitch.
Local resident Paraskevi said, “These people took our green space where children played safely. They have plunged us into darkness and blocked our gates to build Dickensian alleys. This council is creating a ‘them and us’ world.”
Glyn Robbins, chair of Tower Hamlets Respect, added, “This development must be halted. The council, which should stand up for tenants, is dragging its feet. Respect will back the residents to stop this abuse.”
Respect North East camaign meetings
Respect North East was involved in two very important campaign meetings on Tyneside last week.
In Newcastle Elswick ward, Respect eagerly accepted the invitation from Bentinck Tenants and Residents Association to support the campaign to keep the popular Durham Street nursery open.
Across the River Tyne in Gateshead, Respect is involved in the battle alongside parents of children at three primary schools.
These have been earmarked for closure by the Labour council. Two of the schools have specialist units for children with special needs.