Focus E15 campaign - Repopulate Carpenters Estate!

Campaigners attacked at Mayor’s Newham Show

In July, Focus E15 supporters were violently assaulted when they attended the Mayor’s Newham Show to protest against the Labour council’s ruthless social cleansing of working class residents. The RCG was among the campaigners evicted within minutes by Mayor Robin Wales’s private APS security entourage. One RCG member was wrestled to the ground after he attempted to hand out leaflets. Security also snatched Focus E15 leaflets from anyone entering the ostensibly public event. Those assaulted are taking legal advice.

Clearly the council has learned nothing from last year’s show, where Robin Wales physically and verbally attacked members of the Focus E15 campaign. An investigation by Newham Standards Committee subsequently found him in breach of the members’ code of conduct.

Newham continues its shameful social cleansing

The campaign continues to meet people living in the most appalling conditions. Focus E15 supporters regularly go to Bridge House Homelessness Unit to support those facing housing problems. The campaign has enabled many of them to fight for their housing rights and win.

Focus E15 hostel to close

The Focus E15 campaign started almost two years ago when young women in the mother and baby unit of the Focus E15 hostel fought successfully to be rehoused in Newham. The remaining hostel residents have now been told they all have to be out by the end of November. There are around 90 vulnerable young people still living there; many struggle with depression and anxiety. Their future is very uncertain, with no response to their requests for help from local Labour MP Lyn Brown nor councillor Terry Paul. They have been told to look for private rented accommodation, but the only landlords who will accept DSS tenants want a guarantor who earns over £35,000! With the upper limit for housing benefit set at £73 a week, they face the frightening alternative of having to move miles away.

In response to a letter from the campaign, John East, director for Place Commissioning at Newham Council wrote: ‘We are doing all we can to solve the symptoms of the housing crisis, ensuring there is a range of different affordable housing tenures available throughout the borough. We are currently building 86 new council houses and we’ve purchased even more to make available to rent to those on the housing waiting list.’ This is just more lies and obfuscation from Newham council. In June this year, when a Guardian article (21 June 2015) revealed the level of criminal overcrowding in private rentals in the borough – the most overcrowded in the country – Mayor Robin Wales shed crocodile tears, lamenting a fake choice for working class families of ‘succumbing to rogue landlords’ or leaving London altogether.

This is an outrage when the local housing estate, the Carpenters Estate, lies almost empty with over 400 empty homes and when the council is deliberately forcing homeless households out of the borough. Last year Newham council was one of the worst offenders for placing people out-of-borough, with 323 families being moved out between July and September. Overall, London councils are moving families out of their boroughs at a rate of 500 per week. Meanwhile, hundreds of new private homes are being built in Stratford’s Olympic Park; a fraction will be ‘affordable’, the vast majority will be for private sale.

The Focus E15 campaign will continue to keep the pressure on Newham council to house people in the Carpenters Estate and oppose social cleansing in the borough.

FRFI 246 August/September2015


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