A little difficulty at The Shard

Class War have called a protest at The Shard to highlight the obscenity of the existence of tower after tower of empty luxury apartments – all too often acting as investment vehicles for the super rich – while London is experiencing a severe housing and homelessness crisis. In particular, Class War want to draw attention to the many survivors of last year’s Grenfell Tower disaster who are still stuck in inadequate temporary accommodation while the capital is awash with empty apartments. The Shard was picked because it’s an iconic* building and a high profile example of the problem with its empty luxury apartments.

Then, the owners of The Shard got wind of the planned protest and sent in the solicitors. This situation is ongoing so it’s best we don’t make any comment which may inadvertently prejudice the situation for Class War in general and Ian Bone in particular. However, there has been plenty of media coverage since the solicitors got involved so we’ll present what we’ve seen so far here and we’re sure you’ll be able to draw your own conclusions.

Shard owners seek to ban protest by Class War activist (The Guardian)https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/06/shard-owners-seek-to-ban-protest-by-class-war-activist
Qatari royals in High Court threat to South Norwood pensioners (Inside Croydon)https://insidecroydon.com/2018/02/06/qatari-royals-in-high-court-threat-to-south-norwood-pensioners/
Shard’s Qatari owners try to halt pensioner class war activist from holding ‘ghost towers’ protest (RT)https://www.rt.com/uk/418034-shard-protest-court-grenfell/

It’s fairly certain that there will be more media coverage of this. We’ll allow ourselves one little comment… If the owners of The Shard thought that a court summons for an injunction hearing would nip this protest in the bud then it has to be said that their efforts are an epic fail! The media are picking up not just on the story about the injunction but also on the issue of the empty investment apartments that led to the protest getting called. Whatever the owners of The Shard do from now on, the story is out there and they’ll be fighting an increasingly desperate rearguard battle to stifle it.

As far as we can make out, unless the owners of The Shard and their solicitors can conjure some pretty draconian restrictions to apply to a large area surrounding the building, a protest will be taking place this Thursday evening from 6pm onwards. One that is likely to be a lot bigger than initially anticipated owing to the shit storm generated by the actions of the owners and their solicitors. We will be in attendance at this one – given what we’ve had to say on the impact of the social cleansing of London on the housing situation out along the Thames estuary, it would be rude of us to not attend.

Given how desperate the owners are to nip this one in the bud, we would advise those attending the protest to be wary of any attempts to sabotage, undermine and discredit the action. Bear in mind the very, very close proximity of the offices of The Times and The S*n to the proposed location of the protest.

* Personally, we think it’s a feckin’ eyesore and a massive monument to hubris!


Newham council we are watching you

Our friends from Focus E15 getting 2018 off to a flying start by challenging Newham Council on their turf over their appalling record on housing and social cleansing from the borough… Looking forward to getting out on the streets with Focus E15 during 2018:)

Focus E15 Campaign

Focus E15 campaigners started the new year as we mean to go on, as thorns in the side of Newham Labour Council. This is because Newham council continue to prevaricate about dangerous cladding, keeps hundreds of homes empty on the Carpenters Estate and continues to move people out of the borough and out of London, with no regard for the health and well being of adults or children.

On Thursday 11 January, Mayoral Proceedings were held at East Ham Town Hall. Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, due to contest his seat in May this year, opened by saying what a fair place Newham borough is, giving an example that all children, rich and poor, receive free school meals. He didn’t mention that 1 in 25 people in Newham are classified as homeless and many poor, vulnerable and immigrant families are being sent out of Newham and out of London for housing – which is not fair…

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A little reminder about why people are moving out of London

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 Councilhttp://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 towerhttps://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 Londonhttps://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/booted-out-of-london/
A housing reading listhttps://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 Londonhttps://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.

Coming soon…

Below is the housing flyer we’re planning to distribute with our friends from Basildon & Southend Housing Action on selected estates in Basildon in a bid to de-bunk some of the myths and rumours about the housing situation that are circulating and to explain in plain language what’s actually going on. We’re experimenting with short sharp flyers instead of our usual papers to see if they’re more effective in getting the message across…

A housing reading list

From speculation about new housing association homes at the Bata Fields development in East Tilbury going to people from outside of Thurrock, through rumours that some homes on the St. Clere’s development in Stanford-le-Hope are being brought by London councils to re-house people decanted as a result of ‘re-generation’ (a.k.a. social cleansing) to verifiable stories of people re-housed out here from the capital being victimised by resentful locals, there’s a lot of misunderstandings about the housing situation that need clearing up. Below is a list of pretty much everything we’ve written or re-blogged about the housing crisis…

A lot of this reading list focuses on what’s happening in London with the wholesale re-generation of housing estates that leads to social cleansing as residents are turfed out and re-housed many miles away, all too often out of the capital altogether. The point we want to make is that what happens in London with housing has a direct impact out here along the estuary. Which is why we ask people concerned about the housing situation here in Essex to take a step back, look at the bigger picture and show their solidarity with the housing struggles across London that are being fought by residents facing re-location as their estates are effectively destroyed in the name of ‘re-generation’.

One of the problems we face out here are the divide and rule merchants who don’t want people to see the bigger picture and through rumours and lies, create the kind of situation where anger is focused on the people moved out here who are the victims of what’s going on in London rather than the corrupt councils and developers who are the root cause of the problem in the capital. We’re not prepared to tolerate these divide and rule merchants with their nefarious, reactionary agendas in any way shape or form…

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 Londonhttps://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/04/13/a-reminder-of-why-we-support-housing-struggles-in-london/
Screwed up priorities…https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/screwed-up-priorities/
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/
Is this the start of the gentrification of Tilbury?https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/02/22/is-this-the-start-of-the-gentrification-of-tilbury/

Clusterfuck! Labour’s Shameless Council Estate Rip-off

Right, if you want the ultimate low down on what’s happening in London with social cleansing, here it is from our mate, Lolly… This piece was originally published in the latest Class War paper and then given an airing on the Net by our friends from ASH. Yes, we know we keep banging on about the housing situation in London – we do so because what happens in the capital has a direct impact out here along the estuary. Also, we believe in that old fashioned word, solidarity…


A version of this article by long-time ASH member Lolly Oii was first published in the new release of Class War, the most dangerous tabloid in Britain and the only paper that speaks to the working class about working-class struggle. We liked it so much we asked the author if we could publish it on the ASH blog and she said yes. This is one of the best summaries we’ve read about estate demolition, what it’s doing to our communities and who is responsible.

Well, where do we begin to untangle this clusterfuck of an issue? Yes, we know there’s a lot to blame Maggie for – introducing the ‘right to buy’ and blocking any cash generated by sales from being used to build new homes; but under carefully hidden layers there’s a lot more blame that actually falls directly at Labour’s feet. In 1997 Tony Blair and his…

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10 Myths about London’s Housing Crisis

This piece from our mates at ASH was commissioned by the Guardian but never used. That’s the Guardian’s loss and they’ll have to live with that… Anyway, in a bid to get this piece read by as many people as possible we’re re-blogging it and would encourage anyone who has a blog to do the same. Yes, it’s about the housing crisis in London – as we’ve written numerous times before, what happens in the capital with housing has a direct impact all the way out here along the estuary. Not only that, there’s this old fashioned thing called solidarity which we’d like to show to housing activists and tenants in London fighting against social cleansing…


This text was commissioned from ASH by the Guardian’s Housing Network, which subsequently refused to publish it. This is the second time an ASH piece has been commissioned and refused by the Guardian, which since Katharine Viner took over as editor in March 2015 has moved further and further to the political right, and whose articles on housing have increasingly resembled press releases for the councils, mayors, housing associations, property developers, builders, real estate firms and architectural practices feeding at the housing table – so we weren’t surprised. The last two years has shown ASH that there is nothing the mainstream press would publish that we would consider writing, and nothing we would write that they would consider publishing. Here is the text as rejected.

  1. There is no housing crisis, if by crisis we mean something out of control. The shortage of housing and the corresponding boom in UK house prices…

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The gentrification of Grays is underway…

Persimmon Homes Essex have started work on the Urban Central development on the site of the former gasworks just to the north west of Grays town centre: Urban Central: Work starts on Grays Town Centre housing developmenthttp://www.yourthurrock.com/2017/05/02/urban-central-work-starts-grays-town-centre-housing-development/ In the bullshit from Persimmon, they talk about the homes being aimed at professionals amongst others. Which is an indicator of how insane the housing market has become when even professionals working in London are considering Grays as a place to live and commute from.

We also have this from Persimmon: “Grays is a very popular place to live with a bustling high street, fashionable restaurants and shops and easy train access into London. We know that these properties will prove to be very popular indeed.” Now we don’t want to knock Grays but we must have blinked last Saturday when were in the town as we didn’t notice any fashionable restaurants! Which makes us think that Persimmon are projecting into the future to the kind of gentrified town they wish to see…

There’s not one single mention of the miserly proportion of ‘affordable’ homes that Persimmon are obliged to provide. We’ll be keeping an eye on this one but it could well be the case it will be grudgingly provided in a completely different and considerably less convenient location. What has to be said is that this development does sod all to reduce the waiting list for social housing in Thurrock. Not that this is going to be a priority as the regeneration and subsequent social cleansing of anywhere in Thurrock that’s near to the c2c line into London gets underway.

This echoes what’s going on in Basildon with the project of turning the place into a Tory voting commuter town: Screwed up priorities…https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/screwed-up-priorities/ What Thurrock and Basildon have in common is that compared to the total insanity of the property market in London, for young professionals, house prices are affordable and they are looking to move out here while they still have a relatively easy commute into the capital. Which means an extensive exercise in the re-branding of both locations to draw these people in at the expense of the rest of us.

The only possible compensating factor is that the housing market in London is showing signs of slowing down with the possibility that at some point in the not too distant future as the uncertainties about Brexit increase, it could well start tanking. A London housing market that’s tanking will be seen by many commentators as a disaster – we see it as an opportunity to get the notion that housing is not a financial asset but a basic right onto the agenda…

This is the start of gentrification in Tilbury…

Phase One of the housing development on St. Chads Road in Tilbury that’s being built by the Thurrock Council owned Gloriana Thurrock Ltd. is almost complete and will be handed over in April. Properties for rent on this development are already being advertised on Right Move – http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-to-rent/property-58379245.html Have a look at what they want for the monthly rent and you’ll see why we think the gentrification of Tilbury is underway!

The ‘affordable’ housing component of this development is just 20% of the total number of homes being being built – these are restricted to two bedroom properties only. These will not be available until the completion of Phase Two which is due to happen this coming summer. The homes will be allocated through the council’s housing register.

The three bedroom properties are being advertised by Right Move at £1,124 per calendar month (£259 per week). For a couple with children to be able to afford the rent on a property like this, they would need to be earning around £35,000 a year. That pretty much puts these properties beyond the reach of most people living in Tilbury.

So with rents at this level, Gloriana Thurrock Ltd. which was supposedly set up by the council towards the end of 2013 by the then Labour administration with the aim of building homes on land that commercial developers supposedly wouldn’t touch, is turning into yet another commercial property developer! Sure, Thurrock Council officers (and some councillors) will try and justify this as a necessary revenue generating initiative to offset the drastic cuts in money from central government. The point is that Gloriana Thurrock Ltd. are doing little or nothing to ease pressure on the housing waiting list as they build homes for people from outside the borough.

Given that the St.Chads developments is within reasonable walking distance of the station, it wouldn’t be surprising if a lot of people moving there are commuters who have been priced out of London. The same thing is happening in Basildon with the Tory leader of Basildon Council, Cllr. Phil Turner practically rolling out the red carpet to welcome an influx of potential Tory voters into the town! This is just another manifestation of The housing domino effecthttps://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/the-housing-domino-effect/ that’s a consequence of the project of making London a welcome home for the global super rich.

This is what you get when housing is regarded as yet another financial asset to be brought and sold for profit rather than as a basic human need that has to be met. We now have a situation where housing provision is being used as a means of social engineering and social control. Young, productive and relatively well paid commuters are being made welcome. Low earners are expected to struggle as best they can in cramped, precarious accommodation – if their labour is no longer required, they’re deemed to be expendable and they’ll find there is no place for them anywhere along the estuary. If for whatever reason you’re disabled and on the housing waiting list, expect to be moved right out of the area to a decaying seaside town further up the east coast.

Things will only change once people start to realise that the system we have is screwing more and more of us over and is ultimately unsustainable. A political, social and economic order that is failing to meet the housing needs of an ever growing proportion of the population can only stagger on so far before something gives. Only when that happens will we have the chance to install a system that meets our needs as people instead of one that merely sees us as production units to be discarded when we are no longer of any use.