Victory as Focus E15 campaign holds Newham Labour council to account over children’s playground

On Saturday 1 December 2018, comrades from the RCG’s East London branch took part in an action organised by the Focus E15 campaign to reclaim a play park for the children of those forced into inadequate temporary accommodation at Brimstone House.

Brimstone House was formerly the original Focus E15 hostel for young mothers whose refusal to be rehoused outside London five years ago provided the impetus for the campaign. It is now a prison-like building run by Newham Council for emergency and temporary accommodation with no end dates in site for families and individuals crammed into small inappropriate unsuitable spaces. For years, the children have had nowhere to play. The conservatory, once an indoor play area for children, had been boarded up and filled with old fridges and other unwanted items, while the park outside the building had been padlocked and left empty and neglected.

In August, Newham’s Cabinet Minister for Housing, John Gray, had promised to re-open both the park and the play area, after meeting with residents. Again in October, those promises were reiterated by the council and Newham’s new mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz. The campaign determined that it was time to take matters into our own hands and organised a day of action to re-open the play area for the children. And it was that action, finally, after months of promises, that embarrassed Gray into finally fulfilling his promise. We arrived at the park to find the gate, for the first time in years, wide open. The children ran in and played. As for the indoor space, it was miraculously cleared up and, two days later, finally unlocked and the boarding removed.

These small victories are huge for the children forced to live in cramped, unsafe, highly-regulated temporary accommodation in Newham. Even more importantly, they show that only by maintaining pressure on the Labour council and holding its elected officials to account can we force them to keep their promises. Collective action, organisation and the harsh glare of publicity brings results!

011218 Let the children play 1 min

Join East London Branch comrades on the Focus E15 campaign weekly street stall on The Broadway at Stratford, Newham, London E15 and come to the monthly campaign meetings first Saturday of the month, at Sylvia’s Corner, 97 Aldworth Road, London E15 4DN, where we Educate! Agitate! and organise! www.focusE15.org https://focuse15.org/2018/12/03/stuck-in-limbo-at-brimstone-house-newham/

 

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