Rebecca Morris from Focus E15 Campaign gives a personal reflection on International Women’s Day. On March 8 Focus E15 Campaign will be marking International Women’s Day by joining the International Women’s Strike, and singing with Rebel Choir in Russell Square from 1pm. The Rebel Choir is an activist-community choir. Together we will be singing songs […]
via Why I am A Focus E15 Campaigner: celebrating International Women’s Day — Focus E15 Campaign
Regular readers of this blog will be aware that we’ve posted a lot on the issue of social cleansing from London and how it has an impact on the housing situation out here along the Thames estuary. They will also be aware that we have a working relationship with Focus E15 who are a housing action group operating in the London Borough of Newham. When we can, we support actions undertaken by Focus E15: Newham Council…it’s just got personal… – https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/newham-council-its-just-got-personal/ As a result of this, we take a keen interest in what Newham Council and their close associates at the Local Space Stratford housing association get up to out here in Essex.
When we were out and about on a community clean up in Vange today (Saturday 17.2) one of the activists from the Vange Hill Community Action Group pointed out this house which came into the possession of Local Space Stratford at the end of March 2017. After ten months of the property being left empty, work has only just started on bringing it back to (what Local Space Stratford would regard as) a habitable condition. Okay, it’s nothing compared with the years that Newham Council have been emptying the Carpenters Estate in Stratford while they await the right offer from a developer so they can trouser the dosh but…leaving properties empty for a long while seems to be a ‘thing’ with any organisation involved in housing in Newham!
Now we know for a fact this is definitely not the only property Local Space Stratford own and manage in Basildon. We suspect that they have quite a few in their portfolio, mainly acquired from private sellers. We are going to start to try and build up a picture of just how many properties they (and other London based housing associations) have on their books in Basildon but it’s not going to be an easy task.
After all, shoving tenants out of neighbourhoods in London where they have friends, family and a support network to isolated, deprived estates in Essex is admitting you’re aiding and abetting the cruel process of social cleansing from the capital – and that could be a bit embarrassing for a housing association claiming to do the best for their tenants! So we suspect that the likes of Local Space Stratford and their mates at Newham Council will be a little bit coy about the properties they own and manage out here. We also suspect that Basildon Council won’t be able to provide any answers because Local Space Stratford and Newham Council are quite possibly not keeping them in the loop.
We know that London boroughs socially cleansing their tenants and effectively dumping them in the more deprived and marginalised estates out here in Essex causes tensions. Which is why last summer, we produced the leaflet below which we distributed on a few selected estates. The aim was to explain to people angry about the housing situation out here where the roots of the problem were and to direct their anger at the right target. So, rather than re-hash the arguments, here’s the leaflet…
There are proposals to build 32,000 homes in Thurrock over the next 20 years. These were discussed at last week’s full council meeting. See here for the full report from the Thurrock Independent: Concerns over 32,000 new homes expressed at Full Council – http://www.thurrockindependent.com/2017/11/01/concerns-over-32000-new-homes-expressed-at-full-council/
Legitimate concerns about the necessary infrastructure required to support this new housing were raised by a number of councillors. There was also some discussion about who these homes were intended for, with some references being made to outward migration from London. Philip Gibbs, a local campaigner whose concern seems to be restricting the number of new homes being built in Thurrock had this to say: “We were assured that only 11 per cent of the houses would be for people coming into the borough, but for that to be true it would require a natural population growth of over 43 per cent over 20 years. To achieve that rate you need people to be having an average of five children per couple. Given the real figure of about two children per family the population would grow only about four per cent in 20 years. So even ignoring the people who leave, the truth is that at least 92 per cent of the new housing would be for incoming migration.”
We think it’s time for a little reminder about some of the major causes of outward migration from London, one being social cleansing by the London boroughs, many of them Labour controlled, who are in thrall to the developers. Here’s a leaflet we produced a while back to explain what the situation is…
Here’s pretty much everything we’ve ever written (or re-blogged) on the Stirrer about the housing crisis in London and the way it’s impact spreads right out into Essex and beyond:
Marching from tower to tower – https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/08/14/marching-from-tower-to-tower/
Newham Council…it’s just got personal… – https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/newham-council-its-just-got-personal/
Booted out of London – https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/booted-out-of-london/
A housing reading list – https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/a-housing-reading-list/
Clusterfuck! Labour’s Shameless Council Estate Rip-off (re-blog from ASH) – https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/clusterfuck-labours-shameless-council-estate-rip-off/
10 Myths about London’s Housing Crisis (re-blog from ASH) – https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/10-myths-about-londons-housing-crisis/
No More Fake News! This is reality (re-blog from Focus E15) – https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/no-more-fake-news-this-is-reality/
A reminder of why we support housing struggles in London – https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/04/13/a-reminder-of-why-we-support-housing-struggles-in-london/
Why I am a Focus E15 campaigner (re-blog from Focus E15) – https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/03/25/why-i-am-a-focus-e15-campaigner/
The housing domino effect… – https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/the-housing-domino-effect/
This is a pretty comprehensive reading list so please…take your time to read this and absorb what we have to say. We’ve said this more times than we care to remember and feell doomed to carry on repeating it until the message finally sinks in…
What happens in London with social cleansing has a direct impact on the housing situation out here along the estuary which gets exploited by the divide and rule merchants.
This is why we support housing struggles in the capital as residents battle against so called ‘regeneration’ schemes that amount to social cleansing.
We will challenge every attempt by the divide and rule merchants to exploit concerns about housing and twist them to suit their nefarious, reactionary agenda.
Broken pavements with weeds sprouting up everywhere and the possibility of new life forms evolving in the stagnant puddle of water by the drains
It’s not clear whether this is a result of Basildon Council’s Kafkaesque rubbish collection policy or one of the residents behaving like a scumbag but leaving trash bags in an area where kids play is bang out of order
The other evening, along with a comrade from Basildon & Southend Housing Action (BASHA), we distributed our housing flyers across the estate on the south side of Wickford Avenue in Pitsea. As you can see from the above images, the place has seen better days. While it’s not as bad as the ¾ estate in Vange (yet), it’s clear that it has seen better days.
Across the estate, it was a story of broken kerbs, cracked and uneven paved areas complete with a range of weeds sprouting from the cracks and a lot of unkempt gardens. The neglect of the public areas on estates seems to be pretty much endemic across Laindon, Basildon and Pitsea. The only times we’ve seen public areas kept clean has been down to direct intervention by pissed off residents taking matters into their own hands and doing the job themselves.
As for the neglected gardens, more often than not the cause is down to the growing number of buy to lets on the estates, too many of which appear to be owned by scumbag landlords who’ll cram as many tenants into a property as possible to maximise their revenue. A lot of these are on short term leases so with the churn of tenants, community cohesion is going to start taking a hit.
In addition there are the properties owned by London based housing associations where they dump tenants who have been booted out of the capital as a result of social cleansing in the name of so called ‘regeneration’. This is something we’ve already written about here: Newham Council…it’s just got personal… – https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/newham-council-its-just-got-personal/
Longstanding residents understandably get concerned when they see the estate they’ve lived on for a few decades start to rapidly decline. It’s these concerns that get picked up by the knuckledraggers on the right and far right to be exploited for their own divisive, hateful purposes. Which is why we’ve produced the housing flyer shown above to a) make sure people’s anger gets directed at the right targets and b) to offer BASHA’s assistance to any residents willing to group together and start to turn their estates around.
Thankfully, we’re not alone in this task… The recently formed Vange Hill Community Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/180311358699122/ are doing some sterling work in starting to turn the ¾ estate around and we’ll do what we can to facilitate that. Then there’s Focus E15 who are putting Newham Council – one of the worst offenders in turfing their tenants out of London – under intense pressure. We’re always happy to stand in solidarity with Focus E15 as their fight is our fight…
Photo by Peter Marshall
On Saturday 12th August, as part of our ongoing strategy of linking up with grassroots housing activists, I attended the March of the towers: Resistance in the East End! protest organised by Focus E15 – https://www.facebook.com/focuse15/ – and supported by a healthy range of groups and individuals. The march started at Ferrier Point in Canning Town, went on from there to Tanner Point in Plaistow and finished up at the Carpenters Estate in Stratford. Both Ferrier Point and Tanner Point have cladding similar to that used at Grenfell Tower – understandably, residents of both blocks are fearful about what could happen and frustrated at being messed around by Newham Council. The Carpenters Estate is being depopulated by the same council in a cynical bid to offload it and trouser a huge wedge from a developer.
It wasn’t the biggest march (in terms of numbers) I’ve been on this year but certainly the most passionate and for it’s size, pretty damn loud as well. It was visually impressive with the banners and the smoke flares, particularly as we were coming into Stratford. Loads of flyers were handed out to the people we passed by to let them know what was going on and why we were marching. This should be standard practice on marches but sadly it ain’t – credit to Focus E15 for doing this and spreading the message.
It was great to be not marching alongside the usual suspects but with feisty working class people for a change. It was also good to see Movement For Justice – https://www.facebook.com/movementforjustice/ – and East End Sisters Uncut – https://www.facebook.com/eastendsistersuncut/ – amongst others coming along to support the march. This shows that a diverse range of groups can effectively work together as and when the need arises. This fits in with our support for making alliances as and when the need arises without getting hung up about ideological purity.
Also, there were no cops intervening at any point…brilliant! ‘Whose Streets? Our Streets!’ actually had some serious meaning yesterday…
All in all, it was a good day where alliances were formed and strengthened and morale raised. We’re more than happy to continue to continue to offer our solidarity to Focus E15 and the other groups who stand alongside them…
Dave (the editor)
We’ll be going along to this to show our solidarity with housing struggles in East London: March of the towers! https://www.facebook.com/events/1951128301839783/
Date: Saturday August 12th
Join us for a march and speak out to demand safe homes, not social cleansing in East London.
The flats of Ferrier Point and Tanner Point are both tower blocks with the same cladding as Grenfell Tower. Carpenters Estate in Stratford is marked for demolition by Newham Labour council.
Let us meet to raise the issues of secure housing in our local community and demand that the council provides suitable housing for residents.
Meet 12 midday: Ferrier Point, Forty Acre Lane, Canning Town E16 and/or 1pm: Tanner Point, Pelly Road, Plaistow E13.
From there we will be marching to the Carpenters Estate, Stratford E15.
And from 2.30pm we will be having a ‘hands around the Carpenters Estate’ solidarity event and speak out with residents to organise resistance to decanting, demolition and social cleansing.
Take action to defend people’s right to homes and safety.
Join us at Midday, bring your banners and your voices and your hearts!
As we’ve written and said more times than we care to remember, what happens in London with social cleansing as a consequence of ‘regeneration’ in the service of making the capital a welcome home for the global super rich and their money has a direct impact on us out here along the estuary. This is why we show solidarity with housing activists in London fighting this tide of social cleansing from the capital – as far as we’re concerned, the housing struggle, regardless of where it takes place, is one struggle.