Focus E15 campaign – march for decent housing, 5 July 2014

On Saturday 5 July, supporters of FRFI joined the first march of the Focus E15 campaign. 150 people, including representatives from over 25 organisations, marched through the London borough of Newham, beginning and ending in East Ham Central Park. Passing Newham Town Hall twice, the marchers made their feelings known about Newham’s Labour Mayor, Robin Wales, with messages about the housing crisis being attached to the railings. The campaign’s message was heard loud and clear all along the route – social housing, not social cleansing!

The Focus E15 campaign has come a long way since it was set up ten months ago. FRFI supporters have been centrally involved in the campaign from the beginning, after meeting young mothers from the mother and baby unit of the Focus E15 hostel. The mums were threatened with eviction and offered properties in the insecure private-rented sector as far away as Birmingham, Manchester and Hastings. They were determined to fight to stay in east London and since that day, the campaign has been tirelessly organising against the housing cuts being implemented by Newham’s Labour council.

With consistent street stalls, demonstrations, and organising meetings, the campaign ensured that all the mothers from the unit were re-housed in Newham. However, these tenancies are private-rented, short-term contracts. Numerous people met on the streets explained the scale of housing problems in East London, so the mums and their supporters knew there was a need to keep on fighting.

Saturday’s march was a testament to the importance of the work which the campaign has been doing in the last ten months. It has built strong links with all sorts of other organisations fighting the cuts, and worked with them in building the fight for decent housing. For example, an alliance has been formed with activists on the Carpenters Estate in Stratford, a stone’s throw from Focus E15 hostel, where hundreds of properties are boarded up and residents have been campaigning for years to stop the decanting and planned demolition of these homes.

Politics has been central to the campaign. It has stressed the need for grass-roots organising amongst working-class people hardest hit by austerity, and refused to be held back by anyone shifting the blame off the local Labour council, which acts as the local executioner for the coalition government. When whole communities are being shipped out of London, to make way for rampant gentrification and property investment, it is not about different parties, it is class war.

The rally at the end of the march included speakers from:

Speakers detailed the scale of the war the ruling class is waging against us through repossessions and evictions, the bedroom tax, council tax and benefit cap, soaring private rents, racial discrimination and rogue landlords and letting agents.

There has been a 26% rise in homelessness in Britain in the last 4 years, with more than 50,000 households becoming homeless per year. 28,900 homes were repossessed across Britain in 2013. Property prices in London have risen by 25.8% in the last year.

It’s clear that a serious fight back is needed, which attacks the root of the housing crisis - the crisis-ridden capitalist system. This march shows us the way forward.

Hundreds of local people throughout East Ham came out to watch the march and talk with campaigners. The response was overwhelmingly supportive and it is clear that the demands of the E15 campaign resonate deeply.

‘London for all – not just the rich!’

Get involved

Join the Focus E15 campaign on regular street stalls, every Saturday from 12-2, outside Wilkinson’s on Stratford Broadway E15.

Next organising meeting: Saturday 19 July 2.30pm, Bryant Street Methodist Church, Bryant Street, London E15 4RU – all welcome

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Focus-E15-Mothers/602860129757343

Twitter: @focusE15

Read more about the housing crisis and the Focus E15 campaign:
Housing crisis: index.php/britain/3506-hc160414
No to Newham’s social cleansing: index.php/fight-the-cuts/3198-nt-20102013
Determined Focus E15 Mothers fight to stay in Newham: index.php/fight-the-cuts/3436-df190214
Homes that need people and people who need homes: index.php/branches/london/3610-ht100614