Will the sorry saga of Orchard Village ever end?

This is the latest episode in the sorry saga of the botched, cheapskate Orchard Village development in South Hornchurch: ‘Planned maintenance’ means troubled Rainham estate will be without water again for six hours on Thursdayhttp://www.romfordrecorder.co.uk/news/planned-maintenance-means-troubled-rainham-estate-will-be-without-water-again-for-six-hours-on-thursday-1-5240367

This is down to the estate’s water supply being pumped into an energy centre which also controls the estate’s power and heat – if this loses power, then everyone on the estate loses their drinking water. This particular energy centre is unreliable and keeps breaking down. Also, according to a study commissioned by Leeds University and Fuel Poverty Action, this is a seriously expensive heating system.

So, on top of all the other issues with Orchard Village: Building the slums of the futurehttps://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/02/22/building-the-slums-of-the-future/ – we have a totally unreliable heating system which a) costs residents a fortune and b) leaves them without water when it’s being maintained. The distress caused to medically vulnerable residents without water and heating for hours on end doesn’t bear thinking about.

To add insult to injury, complaints from residents about power and water outages are met by Circle Housing, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Essex and Suffolk Water all claiming they’re not responsible. As the experiences of our friends at Vange Hill Community Group and Basildon & Southend Housing Action have shown, Circle Housing have plenty of form when it comes to denying responsibility for a problem on one of their estates.

Seriously, you couldn’t make this up if you tried! The scary part is that with 3,500 new homes (mainly flats) proposed for the Romford Housing Zone in locations in or close to the town centre, if they’re built to the same crap standard as Orchard Village, we’re looking at a housing disaster. As we’ve stated many times before, the planning and provision of new housing has to be made fully accountable to local residents to a) ensure that what’s provided is genuinely affordable and b) it’s built to a high standard. However, as we have also stated before, it’s going to take a major political, social and economic change before this will be possible…


Fours years on the street and the struggle goes on

A comprehensive update from our friends at Focus E15 on various activities and initiatives. Pay particular attention to the section about Newham Council and how they’ve run down the Carpenters Estate in Stratford so they can offload it to a developer and trouser the cash. Also good to see a few Focus E15 people at the Clapton FC game at the Old Spotted Dog – reinforcing the kind of links that need to be made to build a real movement for change…

Focus E15 Campaign

Saturday 7 October was a busy day for Focus E15 campaign as we celebrate four years of campaigning for social housing and against social cleansing. 

On our lively weekly stall on the Broadway in Stratford, Focus E15 campaign was joined by members of the Renters Power Project and the London Renters Union, along with Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!

Then we had our monthly campaign meeting (first Saturday of the month, 2.30-4.30pm Sylvia’s Corner, 97 Aldworth Road, E15 4DN). The meeting had updates on people working with the campaign and their current housing situation, including the racism of detention and threatened deportation, the isolation of families socially cleansed from Newham when they run into local difficulties, and the threats of people being separated from their children in desperate housing situations despite Section 17 of the Children’s Act regarding keeping children and parents together.

During the campaign meeting we…

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Residents organise against regeneration in Southend. 30 Sept.

Originally posted on the Genesis Residents Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/notes/genesis-residents/residents-organise-against-regeneration-in-southend-30-sept/478760239153169/

Residents of Genesis held their own Resident’s Meeting on Saturday 30th September – a stone’s throw from Roots Hall, the ground of Southend United Football Club.

Whilst the meeting lacked the ‘finesse’ of similar meetings held by Genesis H.A. there was a distinct lack of ‘spin’ and a complete departure from the half truths/prevarication that Genesis is so well versed in.

40 people attended this first meeting. Glyn Robbins from UNITE and Tim Baster from Genesis Residents spoke about regeneration, the policies of Genesis and the proposed merger between Genesis and Notting Hill Housing. Residents discussed the proposed plans to ‘regenerate’ the area.

There is no doubt that Genesis are making an attempt to grab the land that the Queen’s Estate in Baxter Avenue is built on. The Estate – built and maintained by Springboard H.A. in the early 1980’s until the merger with Genesis – was a pleasant, well designed small estate in the centre of Southend. Genesis with their heavy handed approach, including contempt for the residents are systematically decimating the area, with a view to ‘re-generating’ it.

Estate ‘regeneration’ has without exception resulted in a net loss of social housing and the dispersal of the community that lived there. It is clear that the emphasis from Genesis is ‘social cleansing’.

At the meeting residents voiced their ongoing frustration with regard to poor maintenance/non-existent communication/increased service charges (a double whammy here, as although the service charges have been increased, the services, if they are delivered, are inconsistent at best.) There was a strong sense of the growing dis-satisfaction with Genesis that appears to have misplaced its moral compass.

The residents are now fully aware that this is not just about us, in Southend, it is about every tenant in Social Housing.

A message to Genesis: We are not going away!

The truth…

Working with both Basildon & Southend Housing Action and the Vange Hill Community Group on the troubled Vange ¾ estate which is located on the southern fringes of Basildon, one of the problems we face is that of tenure. When the right to buy came in, a fair number of tenants brought their homes. However, since then, too many of these homes have been flogged off to buy to let landlords. A heck of a lot of these landlords are scumbags, neglecting their properties while cramming in as many tenants as they can get away with.

Properties with six or more occupants are not uncommon – these are termed ‘houses of multiple occupation’ (HMOs). All too often, the tenancies in HMOs are on short term leases so there’s always a churn in the population. Because the tenants are on short term leases and likely to move on within a year, landlords feel they can get away with the bare minimum of maintenance. Basically, a lot of HMOs are slums…

It’s the buy to let landlords running HMOs that have played a major role in bringing the ¾ estate down to where it is today. They have no sense of responsibility to the community they operate in. They’re the ones responsible for undermining the sense of community on the estate, creating a feeling of atomisation, mistrust and fear. All they’re interested in is lining their pockets. To those who say that private landlords have a role to play in solving the housing crisis, we say you’re deluded. These landlords are parasites and need to be dealt with as such…

The Truth about Grenfell Tower: A Report by Architects for Social Housing

This is an incredibly long read but if you want a forensic examination of the systemic failures that led to the Grenfell Tower disaster, this is the place to go…


A PDF file of this report is available here: The Truth about Grenfell Tower

On Thursday, 22 June, 2017, in response to the Grenfell Tower fire the previous week, Architects for Social Housing held an open meeting in the Residents Centre of Cotton Gardens estate in Lambeth. Around 80 people turned up and contributed to the discussion – residents, housing campaigners, journalists, lawyers, academics, engineers and architects. Below is an edited film of the meeting made for us by Line Nikita Woolfe, with the assistance of Luc Beloix on camera and additional footage by Dan Davies, and is produced by her company Woolfe Vision. The presentations we gave that evening are the basis of this report, to which we have added our subsequent research as well as that collated from the numerous articles on the Grenfell Tower fire published in the press and elsewhere, to which we have attached…

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A demolition of Thurrock Council’s tenant tax

Thurrock Council are desperately trying to defend their imposition of what has been dubbed the ‘tenant tax’: You were told: Thurrock Council boss defends decision over new service chargeshttp://www.yourthurrock.com/2017/09/05/told-thurrock-council-defend-decision-new-service-charges/ Despite all of their bluster and front, it’s pretty clear the extra charges are being imposed in order to make up for the continuing and growing shortfall of money from central government. Mind you, a Tory run council is never going to admit they’re being screwed over by a Tory government so the bluster will continue.

A lot of people can see straight through the bullshit coming from Thurrock Council. A local blogger, Valen (Myles) Cook, has written what can best be a forensic demolition of Thurrock Council’s attempts to defend the tenant tax: Destroying the defence of Thurrock Council’s ‘service charges’http://valen1971.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/destroying-defence-of-thurrock-councils.html Trust us, it’s well worth reading and sharing…

Cleaning up the Pattocks

Pattocks is a sheltered housing complex run by Basildon Council. By definition it houses elderly, vulnerable, people many with mobility problems. One would have thought that anyone with a responsibility for the pathways would prioritise maintaining those around sheltered housing. The paths around Pattocks are broken, cracked, and overgrown, with weeds coming up in abundance. There is also rubbish dumped around the site and broken walls. The paths are not fit for purpose – they are clearly a health hazard.

Thumbs up to the estate manager who was not content to keep reporting broken paths and dumped rubbish around a sheltered housing complex with no result. She got in touch with the local councillor and a clear up was organised. Basildon & Southend Housing Action were there to lend a hand and share experiences of how to get things done. A few local people came out, either from the complex who expressed their gratitude or who came along to help. The “Pride Team” from Basildon Council were there to do the heavy stuff and take away the rubbish that had been collected. The result was a great improvement but needs to be kept up. There was cake and tea as a reward!

Yet again, it’s down to volunteers to undertake basic cleaning and maintenance on an estate in Basildon. If volunteers from the community are having to put in more of their time and effort to bring their estates up to an acceptable level, it has to be said that it’s not an unreasonable demand for those at the grassroots to have a real, meaningful say in how their neighbourhoods are run…