Below are a couple of memes we’ve created in the hope of encouraging some resistance to the wave of social cleansing in the name of ‘regeneration’ across London. Click the link below the image for an A4 PDF of each one. Please feel free to use, share and ideally, implement:)
This piece came to us via one of our comrades in Haringey. We’re reproducing it here as a graphic illustration of what happens when faith is placed in voting and for newly elected councillors to do the right thing – disappointment inevitably follows. Given the estates in question that now face demolition with communities being broken up and residents dispersed far and wide, we suspect anger will be following this disappointment…
There are serious rumblings of discontent within the ranks of Labour Party members/door knockers/vote beggars in Haringey. Through an indicative vote, over 70% of them showed a preference for an anti-HDV (Haringey Development Vehicle) candidate to be selected as leader of the council. Those members were of course completely ignored by the new ‘left-wing’ councillors which proceeded to choose yet another long-term careerist gravy-train rider – one who has a very patchy record on social cleansing and working with developers, Joseph Ejiofor (Business Development Consultant).
The whole anti-HDV campaign was in effect hijacked by the notion that once we get ‘left wing’ councillors, and once previous leader and scab Claire Kober (now working for property developers) and general housing/regeneration Oxbridge tosser Alan Strickland (now working for property developers) had been deposed, those new ‘left wing’ councillors would act with some integrity. They might actually choose to fight for the people that they are supposed to represent – instead of which, surprise surprise, they’ve all turned out to be spineless wankers who will never stand up and fight the government on cuts or ‘regeneration’ or social cleansing. They will never attempt to mobilise the community in defiance of shit Tory policies. They will continue to play the same dog-eared political games.
In the statement about Broadwater Farm, yet more career minded politicians, mouth the same soul-destroying platitudes and use the same empty rhetoric of ‘regeneration’ and ‘consultation’, as used by Strickland and Kober and countless other Labour clones across London.
The HDV campaign never made serious inroads into the affected estates precisely because it was tied to the Labour Party and the Labour Party on the streets of Tottenham and on those estates after decades of managed decline, is a fucking joke. There was a 38.7% turnout at the local elections in Haringey, which means the tiny minority of the electorate who actually voted Labour, handed power to yet more ambitious, inadequate creatures to run our town hall (actually they’ve sold our town hall and it’s going to be ‘re-imagined’ by off-shore developers as a ‘Boutique Hotel’).
That minority of voters gave them the authority to further flog off our property that was fought for over generations, to parasite developers and greedy bastard landlords. They authorised them to privatise and cut the rest of our services, to raise council-tax to unaffordable levels and to give themselves huge pay-rises. The Labour Party have been in power in this borough for more than 60 years and the end result of a one party state, is a despicable pastiche of what a socialist society should look like.
Fuck the cowards at Haringey Labour Council – they have sold, and will continue to sell, their undemocratic, moribund, arses into total obsolescence.
Direct Action. Mutual Aid. Grass Roots Democracy.
A little vignette of life on the estates, way beyond the M25 and far, far away from some increasingly self obsessed activists in their own little bubble in London. Here’s one small but potentially dangerous example of how the various authorities supposedly responsible for the Vange Hill Estate in Basildon are negligent. This is an open drain covered by a wooden pallet – not exactly safety compliant is it? Fortunately, a resident has done what they can to stop the pallet from moving by placing a heavy paving slab over it. Investigations by the Vange Hill Community Group (VHCG) are underway to track down who’s responsible for this and get them to sort it out before there’s an accident. Knowing how tenacious VHCG are (think the Canadian Mounties always ‘getting their man’), we’re sure someone will be getting a rocket up their posterior at some point!
We noted this news item with some interest: Thurrock Council sign up to “common approach” for development of 90,000 homes in region. On the surface, it looks as though the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) are treating the need to look at infrastructure issues to serve the needs of the population that will come with the 90,000 new homes that are mooted to be built across the region over the next twenty years with the gravity it deserves. Within the constraints local authorities operate in and the fact these housing targets are more or less imposed upon them by central government, being charitable, they’re probably doing the best they can in difficult circumstances to deal with this.
However, there’s a massive elephant in the room – our noisy, greedy all consuming neighbour otherwise known as London. As we have written and said more times than we care to remember, what happens with the housing situation in London has a direct impact on us out here along the estuary. Again, as we have written and said more times than we care to remember, London is being turned into a welcome destination for the global super rich – and their money. An obscene amount of money has been poured into property development in the capital and a lot of that is in the form of luxury apartments. Apartments that function as a crash pad when the super rich float through London but don’t want to lower themselves to book a hotel room. Apartments that are probably empty for nine months of the year. Then there’s the apartments that are purchased and left empty as investment vehicles to be flipped for a tidy profit. Also, there are the streets of barely occupied luxury houses in boroughs such as Kensington & Chelsea where there are very few lights on at night because hardly anyone’s living in them on a full time basis.
We have the obscene situation where property in London is seen as a cash cow as opposed to providing a decent place to live for the workers needed to keep the capital and its economy functioning. Workers who in order to find a place to live are forced to move further and further away from London and endure long and arduous commutes. A combination of work and commuting that leaves them exhausted and having no meaningful life outside of the weekend. The southern half of Essex has been lined up to become what will to all intents and purposes, be a dormitory for workers who have been priced out of London. Sure, we know that there will be an effort to create employment opportunities in the region such as the port at London Gateway and the expansion of logistics facilities along the estuary. Not everyone living in the region will be travelling into London for work but a substantial proportion will.
The point we want to make is that despite all of the fancy verbiage coming from ASELA, they will not make any reference to the obscenely distorted housing situation in London where property is seen as a cash cow as opposed to providing homes for people. ASELA are dutifully doing the bidding of a government that is actively supporting the project of making London a welcome home for the global super rich. Basically, they’ve been tasked with attempting to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear with both hands tied behind their backs. Whatever they do, they cannot even contemplate asking a few pertinent questions as to what the heck is going on with the housing situation in London.
When you have the prospect of 90,000 homes being built across the region in the next twenty years which with the best will in the world from the planners tasked to deliver this, will result in an urban sprawl that will make the southern part of Essex resemble Middlesex, understandably, existing residents are going to be concerned. It’s not NIMBYism to be concerned that the physical and social infrastructure will be there to support the extra population. It’s not NIMBYism to fear that the open spaces and countryside that we escape to in order to get away from the stress of modern life will be obliterated. It’s not NIMBYism to conclude that the grandiose planning involved in delivering an extra 90,000 homes in the south of Essex is something that’s imposed upon us with little or no consultation. When large scale planning like this is imposed from above, it’s hardly surprising that not only are people concerned about the impact on their quality of life, they get pretty resentful as well.
Again, as we’ve written before, it’s the reactionary political elements who will pick up on this concern and resentment and exploit it for their own divisive, nefarious and hateful purposes. With our very limited resources, we do our level best to explain what’s going on and put it into some kind of context. One that highlights the impact of property in London being seen as a cash cow as opposed to providing vital housing. One that draws attention to the fact that the planning ‘process’ we have and the system of local and national governance that informs it is simply unfit for purpose. One that draws all of this together to make the case that the political, economic and social system we have which forces all of this upon us is unsustainable, unfit for purpose and ultimately, needs to be swept away. One that starts to offer a vision of a society where people’s needs can be met in a just, sane and sustainable way instead of one in thrall to the profit motive.
This is a considerably longer read than we would normally post up on here. However, as we have written and said more times than we care to remember, what happens with the housing crisis in London has a direct impact on us out here in Essex. This piece looks at the root causes of that crisis, how existing policy does nothing to resolve it and puts on the table, some interesting ideas on how to change things…
Duke Lodge in Holland Park, whose 26 rental apartments have stood empty since 2013, when it was bought by the Guernsey-based CPC Group, an offshore company owned by billionaire property developer Christian Candy. In 2016 planning permission was granted for the demolition of the block and its replacement with 5 interconnected villas with no affordable housing.
1. Empty Housing
In January of this year the Liberal Democrat Party published data gathered from Freedom of Information requests to 276 councils revealing not only the number of empty dwellings in the UK and how long they have been left empty, but the lack of action by local authorities to bring them back into use during a housing crisis that is causing increased housing poverty and homelessess. Over the past five years only 19 of the 247 councils in England and Wales that responded to the FOI requests have made use of the…
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We’re re-blogging this piece from ASH as we feel it will be of interest to the numerous Hammers fans living across the region we cover. It’s a long read but worth the effort as it shows how the gentrifiers have appropriated the football culture of West Ham United, sanitised it and used it as a marketing tool while trashing it at the same time!
I’m dreaming dreams, I’m scheming schemes,
I’m building castles high.
They’re born anew, their days are few,
Just like a sweet butterfly.
And as the daylight is dawning,
They come again in the morning!
– Jaan Kenbrovin, I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles (1918)
There’s been a lot in the papers and on social media lately about West Ham football fans and how much they hate their new ground in the London Stadium. This culminated in the recent pitch invasion and protests during the Hammers’ home defeat to Burnley in March, when hundreds of angry fans demanded the removal of the board that oversaw the club’s move in August 2016 after 108 years at Upton Park. The London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who last year had to take back control of the management of the stadium after it was revealed that the move has cost the public £300 million – the same cost…
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The Tories in Havering have produced a leaflet that has generated a lot of controversy: Labour condemns Tories for racially charged attack on Sadiq Khan. This example of dog whistle politics is so over the top, it almost reads as a parody of itself!
Let’s unpack this leaflet… The first bullet point refers to ‘massive population increases from London’. Havering has been a London borough ever since the creation of Greater London on 1st April 1965. What they fear is movement from inner to outer London. Funny that, because a lot of the housing built in Havering from the start of the 20th century onwards was to facilitate the desire of people to move out from the crowded streets of inner London to the suburbs. This is something that has been going on for over a century! When the Tories talk about ‘massive population increases’, they are dropping a not very subtle hint that some of those moving out may be of a different ethnicity to the white, 50 years plus demographic they’re targeting for votes. This is classic dog whistle politics in action.
The second bullet point talks about vast numbers of high rise blocks. In case the Tories in Havering hadn’t noticed, there’s this transport link called Crossrail running all the way from Reading in the west through to Shenfield in the east and passing right through Romford. There’s this thing called the ‘Crossrail effect’ which is boosting property prices all the way along the route and fuelling the development of clusters of apartment developments aimed at people commuting into London. You would have thought that rising property prices and the potential nest eggs they could provide would be good news for the Baby Boomer demographic the Tories are targeting with this leaflet.
What the leaflet fails to mention is why there’s such pressure to release land for housing development in Havering. Central and inner London has block after block of high end luxury apartments that are nowhere near fully occupied and whose function is to act as investment vehicles for the super rich who buy and sell them for a profit. Developments which were warmly welcomed by none other than the previous Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. So, it would seem that Havering Tories are railing against developments that are pretty much a direct consequence of the policies of Boris Johnson! When you have housing in central London built to function as an asset instead of providing somewhere for ordinary Londoners to live, it’s not surprising there’s such pressure on locations such as Romford for housing developments where people can actually live.
All the way along the estuary, local authorities are being asked to identify land that can be released for development to meet government designated housing targets. If local authorities fail to come up with a plan to identify land suitable for housing, central government have said they will intervene and undertake the task themselves. In effect, the Tories in Havering are questioning the housing policies of their Tory government – just take some time to think about that one because you couldn’t make this up!
The third bullet point talks about ‘building on our cherished open spaces’. If there were schemes to concrete over spaces such as Raphaels Park, Bedfords Park and the like, it would be understandable if people were getting outraged. If there was any hint of a threat to those spaces, we’d be joining in with the outrage! From what we understand, a lot of the high density apartment blocks scheduled for Romford are going onto brownfield sites. Also, as they’re apartment blocks, by their very nature, they’ll be going upwards and will have a relatively small footprint. Yes, there are issues with infill proposals in some neighbourhoods which are posing a threat to loved and used recreational spaces and residents are rightly opposing those and by and large, we would support their efforts to resist this.
Then there’s ‘Havering ruled by Mayor Khan’. Now, as anarchists and housing activists, we don’t have a lot of time for any mayor of London, regardless of political affiliation, who they are or where they’re from. However, this statement has to be taken apart and shown up for what it is. As we’ve stated before, Havering has been a part of Greater London since 1965. As part of what is now the Greater London Authority, Havering like every other London borough is subject to the policy decisions of the elected mayor which happens to be Sadiq Khan. The Mayor of London has a policy remit that’s more of an overview of Greater London than day to day interference in what goes in in each and every London borough. Okay, it’s obvious what’s going on here…it’s the Tories playing on the fears of a certain section of their target demographic about someone with a ‘foreign sounding’ name having a say in how their lives are run. Even though Sadiq Khan was born and raised in south London. Again, this is classic dog whistle politics…
To be honest, when we saw this leaflet on someone’s Facebook page, our initial reaction was this has to be a spoof as it has so many holes in it. A couple of minutes of checking proved that it wasn’t a spoof and was the real deal. At the start of this piece we jokingly said this leaflet reads as a parody of itself. On a more serious note, this is a real throwback to the kind of reactionary rhetoric we used to see thirty or more years ago. The fact the Tories in Havering feel confident about putting this out is an indication of how reactionary the political and social climate is becoming. We have a lot of work to do to counter this…