Wednesday, 11 February 2015

London's Housing Crisis: Southwark council tenants to march in protest against loss of council homes

Council tenant and social housing campaigner Tanya Murat
© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2015

Council tenant Tanya Murat lives between two of London’s biggest council estates.
Well, only one now, writes Paul Coleman.
The 1,200-council home Heygate Estate at Elephant and Castle in south London is now demolished.
The Heygate is now primed for ‘regeneration’ - coming in the shape of luxury flats and with only a smidgeon of replacement social housing equivalent to the lost council homes.
The 2,704-home Aylesbury Estate could go the same way – if a ‘regeneration’ partnership between Southwark Council and Notting Hill Housing gets its way.
“I’m wondering if my home is next for the wrecking ball,” says Murat.
“I want our council homes in Southwark to stay and we want more council homes built.”

Murat is the recently elected chair of Southwark Defend Council Housing, organisers of a ‘housing crisis’ meeting at Walworth Methodist Church on Camberwell Road on 10 February.
Southwark Defend Council is part of a wider Defend Council Housing organisation that campaigns against council house demolitions, rising rents, unaffordable house prices, the Bedroom Tax, Benefit caps, and what it says is a ‘rising tide of evictions’.

Murat also helped organise the London-wide March for Homes on Saturday 31 January. “We wanted to give confidence to people fighting the demolition and redevelopment of their estates,” explains Murat to about 100 people in the church’s main hall.
“We feel refurbishment is best,” says Murat.
"We want to keep – and not destroy – council housing.”

Following the March for Homes - and subsequent occupation of emptied ‘decommissioned’ flats on the Aylesbury - Murat says some people are talking about an emerging ‘housing movement’.
“I’m not sure it is yet, but we’d like it to be,” says Murat.
“Thousands of people across the country could demand decent homes for everyone.
“Housing is a human right.
“And we shouldn’t have to pay forty or fifty per cent of our income for rent.
“And people shouldn’t be chucked out their home for under-occupying as the Bedroom Tax or Benefit cuts dictate.
“Housing is part of the Welfare State and should remain so.”

Murat explains how the March for Homes originated in Southwark.
The March for Homes itself consisted of two marches that converged on the approach to Tower Bridge; one from the Elephant and Castle in south London with another from Shoreditch in east London.
“We’re very pleased to see that some young people have occupied some empty flats on the Aylesbury.”
Murat says 1,400 tenants still live – and claims want to stay – on the Aylesbury.

Hence, Southwark Defend Council Housing is organising a local march on Saturday 14 March to protest against the demolition of council homes on the Aylesbury Estate and their replacement with luxury apartments for sale on London’s overheating property market.
“The Aylesbury doesn’t need demolition,” says Murat.
“The Aylesbury needs refurbishment.”

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, February 2015

No comments: