Friday, 26 December 2014

The New Era at Christmas: Londoners resist global investors and win

Rewind to late autumn 2014.
Residents on the New Era estate fear they will be evicted from their homes before Christmas, writes Paul Coleman.
A rich and powerful American property company now owns their east London estate – and apparently plans to raise rents to unaffordable levels.
The company wants to turn these 1930s-built homes into luxury rented apartments.
“I don’t know how these investment people were allowed to do it,” says resident Nell Hammond, whose husband Terry suffered a recent stroke.
“They want to destroy this community.
We thought we were going to die here.
But we might die here before this is all over because we can’t take all this worry.”

But the New Era tenants fight back and during November and December run a determined, high profile campaign.
Surprising themselves, they win – just a few days shy of Christmas.
There will be no rent rises in 2015.
No evictions.
Immediately, some commentators hail the New Era residents’ victory as momentous.
A sign that the London-wide decanting, dispossession and displacement of generations of born and bred Londoners can be successfully resisted.
And, that rent levels can be set on the basis of Londoners’ incomes rather than on London’s rocketing property values.

It also shows global investors don’t like campaigns against them.
Share values are vulnerable to protest.
Global capital sloshing around the world runs shy from bad publicity.
Flees insurrection.
So, the campaign by New Era residents points to a possibility that the avalanche of profit-seeking global capital - descending so destructively on Londoners’ family lives – can be halted.
Or, at least, scared away.
Global capital, in flight.
But taking fright when confronted by tenacious New Era residents.

The full version of The New Era at Christmas can be seen at

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, December 2014

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