Housing in briefs - FRFI 263 April/May 2018

24 March 2018: Focus E15 celebrate on the streets of Newham after Robin Wales is deselected as the Labour candidate for Mayor of Newham

Newham People’s Charter holds council candidates to account

So farewell then, Robin Wales… On 16 March, after 23 years in power, first as Labour leader of the council and then as Mayor of Newham in east London, Robin Wales is finally being forced out of office. He lost to Labour’s alternative mayoral candidate, Rokhsana Fiaz, by 503 votes to 861.

The next day, RCG comrades joined jubilant members of the Focus E15 campaign on a victory tour of Newham aboard an open-topped bus, despite the snow. Focus E15 campaigners have particular reasons to celebrate Wales’ ignominious downfall. This is the Labour leader who dismissed the young mothers who came to him in 2013 when they faced eviction from their hostel with a contemptuous: ‘Well, if you can’t afford to live in Newham, you can’t afford to live in Newham’. This is the Labour leader who attempted to physically assault one of the young women campaigning at the Newham Mayor’s Show, and set his goons on activists handing out leaflets. This is a victory for all those who have campaigned for so long to get him out.


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‘Neglected, isolated, abandoned’: Grenfell survivors still failed by rotten state

The RCG demonstrates outside the Grenfell Public Inquiry hearings at Holborn Bars on 21 March 2018

Yo, Theresa May, where’s the money for Grenfell?

What, you thought we just forgot about Grenfell? You criminals,

and you got the cheek to call us savages,

you should do some jail time, you should pay some damages,

we should burn your house down and see if you can manage this.

- Stormzy at the Brit Awards, February 2018

On 22 March, the Housing and Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, admitted that the government would fail to meet its pledge to permanently rehouse all the survivors of Grenfell Tower within a year of the fire that killed at least 72 people on 14 June 2017. He blamed the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) for ‘unacceptable delays’. Nine months after the fire, of 209 households made homeless, only 62 have been moved into permanent accommodation. 82 households, including 39 children, are still living in inadequate and often unsafe emergency accommodation. It has emerged that the council has spent nearly £21m on hotel bills for survivors since June 2017 – three times what it cost to build Grenfell Tower in the first place. Will Harney and Fred Carlton report.


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London’s housing crisis – a handbook for the petit bourgeoisie


Big Capital: who is London for? Anna Minton, Penguin Books 2017, £8.99

‘If the price of food had increased at the same rate as house prices in the UK over the last 40 years, then today a chicken would cost more than £50 – or £100 in London.’

Anna Minton’s description of the housing crisis gripping Britain, and particularly its epicentre, in London, is punchy and comprehensive, bringing together a wealth of existing research, punctuated with her own interviews and anecdotes in a short and affordable paperback.


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Housing in briefs - FRFI 262 February/March 2018


Elephant & Castle: the fight against social cleansing

On 16 January, community organisers, traders and residents of Elephant & Castle in south London won a signficant victory as Southwark council’s planning committee voted 4-3 against accepting redevelopment plans that included demolishing the shopping centre and London College of Communications campus. The vote came after a seven-hour debate late into the night, as more than 200 objections to the application by offshore developer Delancey were put forward; outside the meeting, protesters who had marched to the town hall from the Elephant occupied the foyer making their opposition to the plans equally clear.


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Grenfell Fire: The fight for justice must intensify

grenfell silent march feb 2018
Grenfell silent march, 14 February 2018

Over seven months on from the Grenfell Tower fire, there is still an appalling lack of progress in achieving justice for its survivors, and in addressing the vital questions the disaster raises. The vast majority of households made homeless by the fire are still yet to be rehoused in permanent accommodation. No criminal charges have been brought against the local council, the Kensington & Chelsea Tenants Management Organisation (KCTMO) board, or Rydon, the contractor awarded £8.7m to carry out the lethal refurbishment of Grenfell Tower. The Public Inquiry has been delayed again, its legitimacy in tatters. Jack Lukacs reports.


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