Sara made ‘Intentionally Homeless’ by Newham Council

We’ve written numerous times about how the housing crisis in London has a direct impact on those of us living out along the Thames estuary. A housing crisis exacerbated by an intentional policy of social cleansing as part of the project of making the capital a welcome home for the global super rich to park their money in property ‘investment opportunities’. That’s block after block of empty apartments flipped to make a profit while the number of rough sleepers on the streets of London soars and more and more people are forced out of the capital. However, as you’ll see from this piece we’ve re-blogged, the architects of social cleansing are not getting it all their own way. Focus E15 are a Newham based group of activists who have been tirelessly standing up to the complicity of Newham Council in the project of social cleansing and this is a report of yet more actions they’ve taken to call the council to account.

Focus E15 Campaign

The following blog post is taken directly from a report written for the Revolutionary Communist Group’s website. Thank you for allowing  Focus E15 Campaign to reprint this report in full below.

No such thing as intentional homelessness – Sara must stay in Newham

Robin Wales, head of Newham Labour Council since 1995 and Labour Mayor of Newham since 2002 is facing the end of his reign. Rokhsana Fiaz is standing against him for the Labour mayoral candidacy and the results will be announced on Friday 16 March after local Labour members have voted. This situation came about after a trigger democracy process which has forced Wales to accept a challenger for the first time. All Newham wards voted for someone to stand against him. Wales is running scared and after decades of vicious treatment of working class people in the borough, he now proclaims himself a socialist leading a radical…

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A house in Vange owned by…Local Space Stratford

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… 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…

Doing the Lambeth Walk (through Southwark)

Saturday 24th February, 1pm at City Hall then off to The Shard

This isn’t your normal point A to point B housing activists march with mass produced placards and the usual speeches at the final rally before everyone dutifully goes home thinking they’ve done their bit. This is a Class War protest. It will be VISUAL! Let’s face it, have you ever seen a protest where everyone is doing the Lambeth Walk? No, of course you haven’t! Well, you’ll have a chance to not only see but be a part of a mass Lambeth Walk. It will be irreverent, taking the piss and with absolutely no respect for authority. Did the owners of The Shard (and all the other owners of ghost apartments across London) think that after we beat the odds and had our protest outside The Shard on Thursday 8th February, we’d just sit back on our laurels thinking it was job done? We’ve got news for them – the job is not done and won’t be done until housing provision is back in the control of ordinary Londoners and not the super rich parasites who’ve been poncing off the capital for far too long. Every pissed off Londoner and militant housing activist needs to be on this action – feel free to share this far and wide and let’s get the numbers out for this one…

Just to whet your appetite, here are the words (and chords) for the Lambeth Walk:)

[C] Any [F] time you’re [C] Lambeth way,
Any [A7] evening, [Dm] Any day,
You’ll find us [Dm7] all [G7]
Doin’ the Lambeth [C] Walk [G7] Oi!
[C] Ev’ry [F] little [C] Lambeth gal,
With her [A7]little [Dm]Lambeth pal,
You’ll find ’em [Dm7] all [G7]
Doin’ the Lambeth [C] walk.[G7]
[Am7] Every thing [D7] free and [G] easy,
[D7] Do as you darn well [G] pleasey,
[Em] Why don’t you [A7] make your [G] way there,
[Am7] go [D7] there, [Dm7] stay [G7] there.
[C] Once you [F]get down [C] Lambeth way,
Ev’ry [A7]evening, [Dm]Ev’ry day,
You’ll find your[Dm]self [G7]
Doin’ the Lambeth [C] Walk.[G7] Oi!


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 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
Newham Council…it’s just got personal…
Booted out of London
A housing reading list
Clusterfuck! Labour’s Shameless Council Estate Rip-off (re-blog from ASH)
10 Myths about London’s Housing Crisis (re-blog from ASH)
No More Fake News! This is reality (re-blog from Focus E15)
A reminder of why we support housing struggles in London
Why I am a Focus E15 campaigner (re-blog from Focus E15)
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.


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 E15 – 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 – – and East End Sisters Uncut – – 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)


Advance notice – March of the towers!

We’ll be going along to this to show our solidarity with housing struggles in East London: March of the towers!

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.