After Grenfell Tower disaster, against London social cleansing

This video from London, England is called Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) Protest – 3rd July 2017

By Sara Callaway in London, England:

Grenfell disaster spurs activists to start building a new social movement

Thursday 24th August 2017

MEMBERS of the Kilburn Branch of the Labour Party called a community meeting last month in the aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy, for Brent tenants and residents to speak out.

About 80 women and men attended, from different tower blocks, estates and communities. Camden and Haringey tenants and the Fire Brigades Union were invited speakers. A message of support was sent to Grenfell.

The Grenfell Tower fire could have happened in Brent. Cladding on seven buildings in the borough failed fire safety tests; two are housing blocks in south Kilburn.

Despite opposition, Brent intends to build an 18-storey tower block in Wembley. We can’t allow another tragedy or for people to live in unsafe housing or be homeless while the 1 per cent hold 1,652 unoccupied properties in Kensington and Chelsea alone.

The Grenfell fire has shocked people into action about their own housing, as the courageous Grenfell survivors spell out the truth for themselves and everyone.

During the meeting news came in that the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Tenants Management Organisation can face corporate manslaughter charges.

One speaker said that in the US they call towers like Grenfell “racial stacking” because the worst housing is disproportionately allocated to people of colour.

A woman added that many survivors of Grenfell are people of colour or immigrants, and condemned the Home Office plan to only give one year’s right to remain for any survivors who may not have papers.

Kam Sandu and Phil Rose, Haringey campaigners, said communities of colour were most affected by the housing crisis.

They reported on Stop Haringey Development Vehicle, a community campaign against the [Blairite right-wing Labour] council’s plan to transfer over 50 per cent of council homes — the biggest sell-off of public assets ever undertaken by a local council — into a £2 billion partnership with private developers.

They described how Haringey Council’s own overview and scrutiny committee has been ignored. The campaign is crowdfunding to bring a legal case to stop the development going forward.

Kilburn residents reported poor building standards, lack of repairs and information, council homes being torn down and replaced by private housing and poor people being dispersed.

There was objection to the way council tenants, leaseholders and other residents are played against each other and not listened to.

Pete Firmin, chair of a tenants’ association, gave a catalogue of problems local people face, including plans to drill and erect an HS2 vent shaft next to a primary school and housing estates. This has been promoted as part of south Kilburn’s “regeneration project.”

The issue of very high rents in rundown blocks was raised after the meeting: some tenants pay almost £300 weekly for tiny studio flats in some of the worst blocks, managed by Brent Housing Partnership, which is owned by Brent Council.

A Chalcots estate tenant described the chaos when Camden Council evacuated four tower blocks late at night. Many were left to sleep on the floor of a local community centre.

He raised concerns about how money is being spent and the council’s lack of accountability. Fearful Chalcots residents recently took the council to court complaining about shoddy and incomplete repairs.

A Fire Brigades Union representative, Gareth Beeton, condemned deregulation and privatisation, from Thatcher and Blair to Cameron and May. He said that while Boris Johnson was mayor, over 1,000 fire service jobs in London were lost. He called for resistance to government cuts to the fire service and raising safety standards to protect the public.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who called the Grenfell deaths “murder by political decisions,” describes the Labour Party as becoming a social movement.

This meeting, called by Labour’s Kilburn branch, was part of that movement. Local councillors Rita Conneely, Barbara Pitruzzella and John Duffy attended and there was a brief one-on-one Q&A with them after discussion.

Everyone was urged to support the Granville Centre, a precious community resource which hosted the meeting. The council planned to demolish the Granville despite the important services provided there.

Now there are plans to cut it up into a business hub, but there is fierce opposition from the local community. Please sign the petition to save the Granville, which is the area’s only heritage site and has served local residents for over 100 years:

Sara Callaway is a member of Kilburn branch Labour Party.

Housing Haringey Council accused of social cleansing over plans to replace homes with state-of-the-art civic HQ: here.

UK: Southwark Labour Council’s gentrification plans meet widespread opposition: here.

Protesters denounce social cleansing by Southwark Labour council: here.

A CONTROVERSIAL gentrification plan in north London looks scuppered after a “completely unprecedented” intervention from Labour’s ruling executive, sources told the Star today. The Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) threatens to transfer public assets worth a potential £2 billion to a joint venture with private developers: here.


17 thoughts on “After Grenfell Tower disaster, against London social cleansing

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  8. Friday 10th November 2017

    Rightwingers in trouble in north London

    A LABOUR-RUN north London council’s plans to transfer its housing to a private company is under threat as left candidates are expected to make sweeping gains in party ballots, the Star can reveal today.

    The Blairite leader of Haringey Council, Claire Kober, survived a deselection challenge on Wednesday night, but a source told the Star yesterday that while she had “won the battle of Seven Sisters,” she was set to “lose the war.”

    She is seen as the driving force behind the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV), a project that would see £2 billion worth of council housing stock handed to privateers LendLease.

    Thousands of tenants face losing their homes when they are knocked down as part of regeneration plans that have been branded “social cleansing.”

    With 64 votes to 19, Ms Kober won comfortably. Had she lost, she would not have been automatically selected to stand in next May’s council elections and would have faced a hustings with other potential candidates.

    But the source suggested that Ms Kober remains in a “vulnerable position” after losing key supporters in other wards in the borough.

    Labour whip Lorna Reith is understood to have failed to win automatic reselection in Tottenham Hale and key ally Joe Goldberg has said he won’t be seeking re-election in May.

    It is believed that the elections will could give Haringey Council an anti-HDV majority, placing the project under threat.

    The HDV has also attracted condemnation from local MPs Catherine West and David Lammy.

    Last month, it was revealed that United Nations human rights experts are investigating the effects of gentrification following complaints over the proposed closure of Tottenham’s Latin American market.

    Earlier this week, Haringey Councillor Stuart McNamara resigned and made a stinging attack on Ms Kober, comparing her to Margaret Thatcher.

    He accused the council leader of an “horrific wasting of money on vanity projects” and called on her to resign before she does further damage to the borough.

    Mr McNamara said that Ms Kober had used Haringey as her “own personal fiefdom” and refused to listen to others.

    He wrote: “Your Thatcheresque ‘I have no reverse gear’ isn’t a sign of strength of leadership but an abysmal flaw whereby you see compromise as weakness.”

    A High Court ruling on whether the HDV plans are legal is expected next month.


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  10. Wednesday 29th November 2017

    LABOUR dismissed complaints of a hard-left takeover and an “aggressive purge” of centrist councillors yesterday.

    The party confirmed that candidates are chosen by democratic processes governed by its rule book after a string of right-wing Labour councillors threw tantrums in response to being deselected for local elections next year.

    Many of the complaints come from councillors in Haringey, north London, who supported a huge “social cleansing” housing regeneration project.

    The Haringey Development Vehicle will see around £2 billion of housing stock handed to private property developer Lendlease, sparking fears that locals will be displaced in favour of wealthy new residents.

    It is opposed by Labour MPs Catherine West and David Lammy along with Haringey residents, trade unions and the council’s overview and scrutiny committee.

    However despite Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn saying such regeneration projects have no future under a Labour government, a small minority of rightwingers in the party are determined to plough ahead with the plans.

    Council leader Clare Kober survived a recent challenge to her automatic reselection, but the Star understands that the party is investigating complaints of large sums of cash being paid on the door at the meeting to clear arrears of a number of members.

    Tim Gallagher is the latest councillor to stand down in Haringey following the resignation of Cabinet member for Housing and Regeneration Alan Strickland last week.

    In an open letter, Mr Gallagher made claims of a “poisonous” selection process and “a ruthless” campaign against him and other pro-HDV councillors.

    However a Labour Party spokesman said: “Labour members select their candidates by democratic processes as laid out in the rule book.

    “We do not comment on individual selections.”


  11. Thursday 30th November 2017

    posted by Steve Sweeney in Britain

    LABOUR members in London have taken back control from Blairite councillors, leaving the future of a controversial housing project open to question.

    Selection meetings have been taking place across the London borough of Haringey over the last few weeks with sweeping gains for candidates that oppose the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV), the heavily criticised regeneration project that would see £2 billion of council housing stock handed to private developers.

    Haringey Council has been branded a “lame duck administration” after key supporters of the HDV stepped down and will not be automatically reselected as candidates for May’s local elections.

    Cabinet member for Housing and Regeneration Alan Strickland was the first major casualty last week as he withdrew from the selection process in Noel Park ward.

    In his resignation letter he took a swipe at the so-called “hard left” for their role in his departure, however since then pro-HDV candidates have been swept aside in democratic selection meetings.

    It is understood that there will now be a majority on the council who oppose the HDV next May, casting serious doubt over the future viability of the project.

    According to the latest figures just seven pro-HDV candidates have been selected compared to 35 who oppose the project.

    It could see the collapse of the controversial plans, however Haringey Council claimed that the HDV would go ahead regardless.

    A council spokesperson said: “Haringey Council’s cabinet made a decision in July to proceed with the HDV, and that decision remains unchanged.

    “Through the HDV, we look forward to building 6,400 new homes in the borough, including new affordable homes, and delivering on our commitment that all existing social tenants will have a guaranteed right to a new home on equivalent rent and terms.”

    The HDV has been paused pending a decision on a judicial review which is expected early next year.

    A Lendlease spokesperson said the company recognises there are “many points of view” over the project with the company making “a significant investment in beginning to understand the needs of the borough.”

    Clare Kober, who has been seen as the figurehead for the HDV, is expected to be challenged as leader of the council with sources saying an anti-HDV candidate could replace her following the elections in May 2018.

    A demonstration has been called by trade unions for the full council meeting on December 4 where they will tell councillors they have “no mandate” for the HDV.


  12. Wednesday 6th December 2017

    posted by Lamiat Sabin in Britain

    FOUR more Labour councillors in Haringey have quit after members selected Momentum candidates to block the London borough’s council’s plans to sell off social housing to a developer.

    Three “centrist” councillors representing the Crouch End ward have stepped down. In a joint statement, Jason Arthur, Natan Doron and Sarah Elliott blamed a “factional and poisonous” climate of “anger, cynicism and distrust.”

    A fourth councillor, James Patterson, from the neighbouring Alexandra ward, also announced his decision to step down. He accused Momentum of using the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) as a “Trojan horse.”

    The bitter dispute between right-wing and left-wing party members stems from the council’s decision to set up the HDV, transferring £2 billion of council assets to a 50-50 partnership with Australian developer Lendlease.

    Of the 28 Labour councillors who support the HDV, 22 have been deselected or retired. Just six have been reselected.

    Of the 21 Labour councillors who oppose the HDV, one has retired and 20 have been reselected.

    The current balance of selected candidates is 41-7 against the HDV, with nine candidates still to be selected, according to a statement released yesterday by Paul Burnham, secretary of Haringey branch of Defend Council Housing.

    At a meeting on Monday, he added, council leader Claire Kober had pushed for approval to demolish the Love Lane estate and sell the land to Lendlease.

    Labour councillors opposing the plan left the chamber, feeling “too disgusted to support a scheme with the loss of 67 council homes, designed to push up house prices and rents, making the area unaffordable for local people,” Mr Burnham said.

    Only 27 out of 49 Labour councillors voted for the demolition of Love Lane.

    “The authority of council leader Claire Kober is disintegrating. Her cabinet has no mandate for estate demolitions or proceeding with the HDV,” Mr Burnham also said.


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