Sunday, 22 September 2013

Lambeth Council has been trying to remove the squatters, to raise revenue to improve housing standards




Police and bailiffs evicted 75 squatters from six blocks of flats in Brixton, South London, last month, some of which were occupied for up to 32 years.

Police blocked off the area in Rushcroft Road in the early hours of 16 July, before bailiffs stormed the blocks to remove residents, including young children, from the 37 flats. Protesters gathered in support, waving banners, blocking roads or lighting fires in bins.

The properties were some of the last ‘shortlife’ housing co-operatives in London, most of which were purchased by councils in the 1970s and earmarked for refurbishment. When funds were no longer forthcoming, they allowed people to live in them paying little or no rent.

However, for the last two years Lambeth Council has been trying to remove the squatters, to raise revenue to improve housing standards across the borough. It is understood that three of the buildings have been sold to developers for an estimated £5.5 million, with individual flats in the street fetching close to £500,000.

The remaining flats will be reserved as social rented housing, according to the council. However, residents and their supporters accused the council, which claims to have co-operative principles, of putting profit over the people of Brixton.

One of those evicted, Peter Piotrkowski, who was on crutches, claimed he fell over when police pushed him.

He told the London Evening Standard: “I was moving slowly because I can’t run and they pushed me twice. I’m going to be homeless now. I’m on benefits, £72 a week. I can’t find any place for that money and I need to keep some money for food.”

However, Lambeth councillor Pete Robbins said: “It is unfair on the thousands of residents in need of housing in Lambeth that a small minority are unlawfully squatting in six mansion blocks and not paying any rent or council tax.”

Sourced and all credit to: the Pavement magazine

1 comment:

Lambeth United Housing Co-operative said...

This article lacks a lot if context about the wider 'recall' of 'shortlif'e in Lambeth.

It is certainly not the socialist way, in Lambeth we have a 'co-operative' council that is waging a community purge against 40-year-old self-reliant, skill-swapping housing co-operatives.

Their eviction programme means that social housing stock is being sold off and long-term co-op residents are put on the housing list, displacing others.

Some of the residents facing eviction are elderly and vulnerable, some have families who have grown up in these homes, some have been in their homes since the 1970s and are in their 70s!

Residents have put forward a plan to keep the homes in a co-operative framework and prevent evictions, but Lambeth a doing their best to avoid a social housing settlement by any means necessary, from denying minutes of meetings to spinning the realities of the waiting list and refusing to answer questions.

We have had advice and backing from various social housing experts and the Co-operative Enterprise Hub, plus from local MP Kate Hoey, and even support from Lambeth's own co-op council commissioners:

“I do certainly sympathise with your position” said one co-op commissioner, “and view that it would be in the spirit of the 2011 Housing commission report, for Lambeth to work with you more collaboratively.”


Here’s another commissioner:

“I think it is important that they understand how to deal with legitimate challenges such as the ones you have raised. If they do not understand how to do this, there will be no hope for the development of a Cooperative Council.”


And finally one more co-op commissioner who said:

“Next time I see Steve Reed [former Lambeth leader and now Croydon MP], I am going to encourage him to get a grip on matters before the project loses its credibility.”


And what of our councillors?

The self-same politicians who are now evicting us have said:

“Your communities have given a welcome permanence and continuity to the area.”

and...

“We have reminded colleagues and officers that some of these homes would not be standing if it was not for the work of the people living in them.”

and...

“It would be senseless as well as expensive to evict people only to have to re-house them again.”

and...

“Labour will continue to fight for your right to stay in your home.”


What is going on in Lambeth is a scandal pure and simple and a massive stain on the co-op aspirations of Lambeth Council which has shown itself and hypocritical and vindictive on this issue. Lambeth and Labour need to get their house in order before they start preaching the co-op gospel to others!

www.lambethunitedhousingco-op.org.uk

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