Focus E15 Mothers set up E15 Social Centre in vacant council homes

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On Sunday 21 September, on the occasion of its first anniversary, the Focus E15 campaign stepped up its fight against social cleansing by occupying vacant council housing in Newham, East London.

Amidst a ‘Fun Day’, organised to celebrate the one year anniversary of the campaign, supporters of the campaign occupied four properties on the Carpenters Estate, which the local Labour council has earmarked for demolition and redevelopment. With Newham’s Labour Mayor away at the Labour Party conference, an occasion which saw Labour Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls reassert Labour’s commitment to savage service cuts – ‘balancing the books’ -, what better time to step up the fightback against cuts, social cleansing and gentrification?

Hundreds of people were invited to tour the homes, which the campaign has set up as the E15 Social Centre – a place for the community to discuss housing, social cleansing and gentrification.

Groups present on the day included Revolutionary Communist Group, UKUncut, Digs (Hackney), Tower Hamlets Renters, Feminist Fightback, Common House social centre, Plan C, Stop City Airport, Radical Housing Network, Lewisham People Before Profit and many more individuals who have supported the campaign over the last year.

Social Cleansing

Carpenters Estate is adjacent to the main site for the 2012 Olympics. So far all plans for the estate have involved compulsory purchase of properties, which would then be sold to developers at a profit, with no obligation to rehouse current residents on the estate. This is social cleansing - sending council tenants outside of London while local homes lie empty, awaiting demolition to make way for luxury flats.

Open House

The occupation took place on the weekend of Open House London, which saw properties of interest opened up to the public across the city.

Those that toured the new E15 Social Centre saw for themselves the excellent quality of the rooms and facilities that the council wants to sell off to developers, whose luxury tower blocks now surround the Carpenters Estate like vultures.

For Newham council it's all about profit, not people, and the struggle must continue. As the campaign says, ‘These homes need people, these people need homes.’

About the Focus E15 Campaign

In the words of the campaign, ‘We started in September 2013 when some of us as young mothers were served eviction notices by East Thames Housing Association, after Newham Council cut its funding to the Focus E15 hostel for young homeless people. Our campaign now includes ALL people facing the housing crisis.

’The campaign has gained no sympathy from the local Labour Mayor, Sir Robin Wales, whose behaviour is currently the subject of an internal investigation after a complaint was sent to the council about his disgusting behaviour towards Focus E15 campaigners at the Newham Mayor’s Show in July. This video shows what he did when one of the E15 mothers tried to give him a leaflet:

“If you’re fuming about unaffordable rents, the bedroom tax, housing benefit cuts, social cleansing, empty houses and millions being left without safe and secure homes, then take action! If it makes you sick that our Labour Mayor thinks he can get away with

treating us like dirt then take action! It’s an outrage that people are being shipped out of

London while there are thousands of empty homes on the Carpenters Estate and all over the city!’

Come and join Focus E15 as it tells Newham Council: SOCIAL HOUSING NOT SOCIAL CLEANSING

The E15 Social Centre will be a family friendly space, open to all concerned about issues around housing, cuts and gentrification. A variety of workshops and events will be held for people to get together, share skills and experiences, learn and organise the fightback. Visit the social centre on the Carpenters Estate, Wilmer Lea Close, Stratford. E15 2HR. Contact the social centre on: 07933 845 685

Like the Focus E15 Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Focus-E15-Mothe/602860129757343

Follow Focus E15 on Twitter: https://twitter.com/search?q=focus%20e15&src=typd