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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The state of the estates


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 Grouphttps://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…

Marching from tower to tower

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 E15https://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)

Newham Council…it’s just got personal…

I took part in a protest organised by Focus E15 today (Monday 24th July) outside the Newham Council housing office at Bridge House, Stratford. The protest was called to offer solidarity to Chantelle who’s facing eviction and possible relocation out of Newham this week and also for Elina who has been re-located by Local Space Stratford to Pitsea miles away from her family and support network. We support protests like this because what happens in London as people are socially cleansed as part of the project of making the capital a welcome home for the global super rich has direct consequences for our communities out here along the estuary: Booted out of London…https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/booted-out-of-london/

Along with Basildon & Southend Housing Action, we’re doing what we can to support Elina, working closely with Focus E15 in the process. We know that as far as Newham Council and Local Space Stratford are concerned, once their residents have been re-located out of the borough, they have effectively washed their hands of any meaningful responsibility for their welfare. Not only that, communication between the likes of Newham Council and the local authorities receiving their former residents are pretty much non-existent. When people being booted out of London are dumped on estates in Basildon that already have more than their fair share of problems, it exacerbates existing tensions…

This is why we’ve produced the above flyer to explain to locals in Basildon what the situation is, to not blame the people being relocated out here but instead, aim their anger at the authorities in London complicit in social cleansing. We know there are divide and rule merchants out here who will exploit this situation to promote their own reactionary agenda – we’ve no intention of letting these bigots get away with it. The actions of the likes of Newham Council in dumping people out here make our lives as activists more difficult as we have to deal with the consequences. Outside Bridge House today when I took the mic for a few minutes, I let Newham Council know in no uncertain terms that as a result of their actions, they will have to deal with us and Basildon & Southend Housing Action as well as Focus E15 and their allies. To put it bluntly, it’s now got personal…

Bridge House, where the protest was held, is just round the corner from the Carpenters Estate with its iconic tower blocks surrounded by low rise housing. In its heyday, the estate had a reputation for being a thriving community where people got along regardless of who they were or where they came from. The tower blocks are now empty and Newham Council are now putting pressure on the remaining residents in the low rise housing to leave. This is so the council can flog off the estate to developers and trouser the cash. In their greed and hubris, they’ve killed off a community. Newham Council along with all the other London councils engaging in social cleansing need to be told that breaking up communities and decanting residents right out of the capital has consequences and they will be made to pay for them…

Dave (the editor)

Whatever you do at Tories Out! on Saturday, don’t rock the boat…

…because if you do get angry or depart from the script in any way, shape or form, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity will be really, really upset with you! As usual with a People’s Assembly event, everything is being as carefully choreographed as possible for what to all intents and purposes is going to be a massive, pro-Corbyn march and rally in the centre of London. There will be musical entertainment laid on to put everyone in a bouncy mood… There will be endless chants of ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’… The usual suspects will be mouthing the usual guff from the stage… One more push and Corbyn will be Prime Minister…so whatever you do, don’t rock the boat…

There’s musical entertainment before and presumably, after the march… Let’s just put this in context… This will be taking place a few miles down the road from the still unfolding horror of the Grenfell Tower disaster where the death toll will not be known / revealed until the end of the year: Grenfell Fire Death Toll ‘May Not Be Known This Year’http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/grenfell-fire-death-toll-may-not-be-known-this-year_uk_5953b719e4b02734df2ef257 This shows an utter lack of respect, not just for for survivors in the community around Grenfell but also for the considerable number of people attending the march who feel saddened and angry about this needless tragedy and would appreciate a more serious atmosphere to reflect that.

The subliminal message from the People’s Assembly is ‘don’t get angry and rock the boat’. How the ***k is it possible to not get angry when Grenfell Tower survivors have been banned from attending the first full cabinet meeting of Kensington & Chelsea council because of fears of ‘disruption’? See here for the story: Grenfell Tower: Survivors Banned From Council Meeting Because Of Fear Of Violencehttp://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/grenfell-tower-council-survivors-meeting_uk_595437c1e4b05c37bb7bdad6 How the ***k is is possible to not get angry when the retired judge appointed to head the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, basically gave the green light to social cleansing from London when he ruled in 2014 that Westminster council could re-house a single mother in Milton Keynes, 50 miles away from her support network? See here for the full story: Grenfell Tower inquiry judge has controversial history in housing caseshttps://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/28/grenfell-tower-inquiry-judge-retired-martin-moore-bick

Let’s not let the Labour party off the hook… Do you want to see what they’re really like when they get their hands on the levers of power? These are just two out of hundreds of examples we could quote that shows the reality, and how far that is from the rhetoric they’ll be coming out with this Saturday… Firstly, there’s this about the sheer arrogance of Newham council and their complicity in social cleansing in the name of ‘re-generation’: No More Fake News! This is realityhttps://focuse15.org/2017/05/19/no-more-fake-news-this-is-reality/ Then there’s this from Labour controlled Haringey council where they’re demolishing the Sky City estate in Wood Green and pretty much telling tenants they have no right of return to the area: Sky City, Wood Green – set for demolitionhttps://www.facebook.com/paul.burnham.31/posts/10211012337199605 How the ***k is it possible to not get angry when this is going down?

But, we’re not supposed to get angry and rock the boat on Saturday are we? That’s a tough call when the Tories have climbed into bed with the creationist, climate change denying, homophobic, anti-abortionist, religious fundamentalist, corrupt, loyalist terrorist loving scum otherwise known as the Democratic Unionist Party. The list goes on and on but we hope you’re starting to get the picture by now…there is a lot to be angry at right now! With the numbers expected at Tories Out! on Saturday, with the will, bottle and imagination, it could be a lot more than just another point A to point B march. At the very least, there should be a few buildings occupied / squatted to make some salient points about the housing crisis. A march like this should be angry and disruptive with the aim of putting the wind up the political establishment.

It should be, but we know it won’t be as the Corbynistas will not tolerate it. The truth is that anyone attempting to depart from the script on Saturday will most likely end up getting grassed up to the cops. As ever, any point A to point B march these days is a tokenistic exercise that’s designed to stifle people’s anger. Real change can only happen from the grassroots upwards on the estates, in our workplaces, in the colleges and out on the streets but, strictly on our terms…

Booted out of London

We’ve written more times than we care to remember about the social cleansing of London as the capital is made into a welcome home for the global super rich and their money while ordinary working class people are pushed out. We were recently alerted to a case which illustrates the personal toll of councils acting like shits and decanting people they don’t want to house right out of the capital. The case concerns Elina who was originally dumped by Newham Council in a block of studio flats in Welwyn Garden City which were simply not fit for purpose. This is her account of the conditions she had to endure: Families are speaking out against social cleansinghttps://focuse15.org/2015/12/13/families-are-speaking-out-against-social-cleansing/

Elina was offered accommodation in Pitsea which understandably she accepted in a bid to get away from the horrendous conditions she had to endure in Welwyn Garden City. The problem is that as in Welwyn Garden City, she’s a long way from family, friends and the support network she needs. Elina is not alone – there are many, many people who’ve been turfed out of London by councils who are willing to bend over backwards for the developers but who don’t give a toss about their working class residents. All too often, people booted out of London by councils who want to wash their hands of any responsibility for housing them, are dumped in estates that already have more than their fair share of problems.

The problem is that the local authorities out here are not fully in the loop as to how many properties they could potentially have in their housing portfolios for use as social housing (IF they had the political will which they DON’T!) that are actually owned by housing associations based in London charged with the task of helping to socially cleanse the capital. Even if Basildon Council did know, somehow we doubt they would care as the problem is a) mainly to the south of the great divide known as the A127 b) the Tory Mafia from Billericay and Wickford regard anywhere south of the A127 as a potential development opportunity regardless of the human cost and c) they don’t give a toss about social tenants anyway!

Another problem is that long standing residents are not fully in the loop as to what’s happening with people being decanted from London and effectively ‘dumped’ on their estate. When this happens seemingly out of the blue without any explanation, there are elements on the estates who will regard any newcomers on their turf with hostility and it’s not long before the rumours, verbal and physical harrassment starts. We’re doing our level best to get the truth about what’s happening with social cleansing from London out to people on the estates to counter the crap coming from the divide and rule merchants on the far right. The problem is that with this blog, and pretty much most political blogs, it tends to be a self selecting audience. With the South Essex Stirrer paper, owing to our constrained finances, the print run is in the hundreds rather than the thousands we would like. However, we’re working on a flyer explaining the situation in the plainest terms possible and linking it to the shite conditions that long standing residents have to endure on estates across Basildon.

There are also renegade elements on the estates out here who while they are in the minority, with their persistent anti-social behaviour and utter contempt for any notion of neighbourhood solidarity and cohesion they can drag an entire neighbourhood down with them if their actions remain unchallenged. It’s scum like these who glean the vibes coming from the divide and rule merchants and use that as a justification to harass and bully anyone they regard as ‘different’ or an ‘outsider’. It’s this element who have targeted Elina among a number of other residents in the area. Suffice to say, solutions to isolate and deal with the renegades are being looked into: How do we deal with the wreckers?https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/how-do-we-deal-with-the-wreckers/

In Elina’s case, the property in Pitsea she’s housed in is owned by the Stratford based Local Space Housing Association – http://www.localspace.co.uk/ – who have close links with Newham Council. At the time of writing, we suspect that Local Space own considerably more than one property not only in Basildon but across the rest of southern Essex. We also suspect that a fair number of other London based housing associations with dodgy links to councils with a penchant for social cleansing own a considerable number of properties across southern Essex.

If you have clicked the link to the Local Space website, here’s a content warning…it’s bullshit! These housing associations do the bidding of the London councils who are in effect their masters and to help them implement their agenda of social cleansing and removing so called ‘difficult’ tenants as far away from their original neighbourhoods in the capital as they can get away with. Their definition of ‘difficult’ is anyone who has the nerve to question the way they operate and the way they come to decisions about decanting people from the capital. In Elina’s case, it’s because she’s a housing activist with Focus E15 that Local Space and Newham Council don’t want her moving back. So, it could be said that Elina is on the receiving end of a political vendetta from these two because she had the temerity to challenge them.

We’re all in favour of residents and tenants who reject the bullshit that spews from the mouths of local authorities and the housing associations who do their bidding and instead, stand up to them demanding justice and respect. As mentioned in our previous post: Notice to Basildon Council – FFS, listen to your tenants!https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/06/18/notice-to-basildon-council-ffs-listen-to-your-tenants/ we’re putting Basildon Council on notice that we’re intensifying our scrutiny of them. It doesn’t matter if it’s people displaced from Newham putting their council under the cosh for what they’ve done to them or Basildon & Southend Housing Action piling the pressure on Basildon Council, as far as we’re concerned it’s one fight for decent, secure housing for all!

No More Fake News! This is reality

Well, our previous post: Three more weeks of hot air and then what?https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/three-more-weeks-of-hot-air-and-then-what/ has certainly generated a reaction…one that was quite hostile to our position! A fair bit of that hostility has come from Corbyn supporters and people intending to vote Labour. If these people seriously think Labour has the answers to the housing crisis in London, they need to look at the dismal record of Labour run councils in Greater London and their complicity in the social cleansing resulting from so called ‘regeneration’ schemes. This post from the Stratford based Focus E15 campaign shows up the complicity of Newham council in social cleansing. Bear in mind that Newham council have been sitting on three empty tower blocks on the Carpenters Estate for years waiting for the right offer from a developer while they continue to move people out of the borough and homelessness in the area continues to soar. As we’ve written before, what happens in London as a result of so called ‘regeneration’ and the subsequent social cleansing has a direct impact on the housing crisis in the area we operate in along the Thames estuary: The housing domino effect…https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/the-housing-domino-effect/ So this is why despite the ardent pleadings of Corbyn supporters, we cannot in any way, shape or form, endorse the idea of voting for Labour in the coming general election…

Focus E15 Campaign

Robin Wales and his parallel universe of lies and deception!

Focus E15 campaign went along to Newham’s Annual Council Meeting on the 18 May. This is a big gala event.  250 people heard Robin Wales make vainglorious speeches about how wonderful he has been for Newham.  It was grotesque. Robin Wales made a speech about his work programme for 2017/18 and spoke of Newham having the best services in London, compared to 25 years ago when the borough was, an “incompetent backwater”. It was hard not to feel sick.

He  then went on and blamed the housing crisis on the Tories and explained that Newham Labour are standing up against criminal and rogue landlords. He promised that Newham Labour are putting “power into the hands of the residents”. Robin Wales ended his speech by concentrating on the Newham borough motto, which is, ironically, considering the amount of social cleansing that has been going…

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