A buoyant mood ran through a housing activists’ summit on Saturday.
Some 200 housing campaigners, tenants and residents came together to discuss the way forward for the housing movement.
People celebrated the partial defeat of the Tories’ hated Housing and Planning Act. Defend Council Housing campaign chair described it as a “zombie” piece of legislation.
However, the news that electrified the summit was about the campaign against the £2 billion Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV). The HDV would see seven estates bulldozed. Many councillors who supported the HDV on Haringey council have been deselected in internal Labour Party elections before the local elections in May.
One campaigner from Haringey said this “was down to a grass roots campaign.”
The HDV faces legal challenges. But the council leaders, in place until the May election is contested, may try to push the deal through before then.
A minute’s silence was held for the victims of austerity, including the people who died in the Grenfell Tower fire.
The horror of the Grenfell fire was a reminder of what’s at stake in the fight for decent housing.
Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack described the fire as an “atrocity”. He called the fire “the consequence of three and a half decades of deregulation.”
Moyra Samuels from the Justice4Grenfell campaign announced a demonstration at Kensington Chelsea town hall on Wednesday 6 December at 6pm. That’s the last council meeting of the year.
Residents and activists will also hold their monthly silent march on Thursday 14 December—six months since the fire.
“The council has been shamed,” said Moyra. “Only 36 households affected by the fire are in permanent housing.”
She questioned whether Tory chancellor Philip Hammond’s promise of £28 million for people affected by the fire was enough.
Meetings about housing and mental health, housing associations, estate management and the impact of Universal Credit all came up with concrete proposals to take the movement forward.
Paula Peters from Disabled People Against Cuts told Socialist Worker, “We demand that UC is completely stopped. We’re calling a national day of action against it in the new year.
“It needs to be scrapped totally. In the meantime we can put pressure on landlords not to evist people when they get into rent arrears because of UC.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sent a message to the summit.
“I want to see a return to building high quality, energy efficient council Housing, with secure tenancies and truly affordable rents,” it said. “Grenfell Tower was a preventable disaster. Real justice for Grenfell means a society where there’s decent, secure, truly affordable and safe homes for all.
“The next Labour government will deliver that.”
Copies of the statement were circulated. Housing worker Glyn Robbins urged everyone to hold onto theirs, saying, “We need to make sure Labour follow through on this promise.”
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