Where now for the grassroots housing movement? Come and join Action East End and other grass roots housing activists to discuss where we are now, where we want to go and how to get there.
When: on Nov 14th 10 am to 6 pm
Where: All Saints Community Centre, 105 New Cross Rd. London, SE14 5DJ
The sessions are:
- The Roots of the Crisis
- The State: On our side or On our backs?
- The Activist Response
On Saturday, after the stall at Queen’s Market, supporters of the campaign for 100% social housing on the Boleyn Ground went to the Clapton football match. We distributed leaflets for the campaign as well as The Howler (its headline Keep the Rich off our Pitch was popular!), and publicity for the 19th of Sept march against evictions and for social housing. These were well-received by fans. During half-time, we did a collection and were inspired by the fans generosity. The supporters of the team, known as the Clapton Ultras, are certainly special! It was a great atmosphere and we thank them for their welcome.
A big event is being organised this week-end (August 8th and 9th) in Tower Hamlets which brings together a range of campaigns who are fighting gentrification and demanding more, not less social housing. The week-end begins with a walking tour of various campaign sites, meeting at Whitechapel Tube at 11 am. On the 9th, an assembly will be held in Victoria Park, meeting at the Padoga at 1 pm. This is a great opportunity to see what amazing groups exist in Tower Hamlets and to get involved.
The 16th edition of the Howler is now out. We focus on a range of new campaigns in Newham and Tower Hamlets. We also include an article from the inspiring Reclaim Hackney.
KEEP THE RICH OFF OUR PITCH
Another five years of a Conservative government, determined to attack the working class and those most vulnerable in society, has caused both anger and despair. Whilst some spend their time moaning and planning for the next election, others are stepping up the fight-back that had already gained momentum well before the election. Campaigns continue to spring up all over East London: eviction resistance, saving social housing from developers, protests against the tower blocks being built for the rich, fights to preserve important community places such as markets and pubs, and a general fightback against austerity and cuts. What all the campaigns have in common is the determination to make sure that the working class can afford to live and work in East London. This is becoming increasingly difficult as the whole area is becoming gentrified, as seen in the increased rents and house prices and the spread of up-market chain stores, ‘boutiques’, and expensive cafes and restaurants. Working class neighbourhoods are being rebranded, like the new ‘Upton Village’. The Chief Executive of Galliard, Stephen Conway (born in Bow himself) is quoted in the Daily Telegraph as saying: “London is no longer affordable for people on normal wages. In fact, it never really was”. We refuse to accept that a city like London is for the rich.
In this issue of The Howler, we focus on some of the new campaigns that are adding their voice to Focus E15, Friends of Queen’s Market, Fred John Towers and others in the struggle to stop social cleansing and gentrification. Boleyn Development 100 is demanding 100% social housing on the site of the West Ham stadium. The lack of truly affordable housing is the main factor forcing people to move out of the area. Save Chrisp St Market in Poplar, similar to Friends of Queen’s Market in Upton Park, realises the danger to the community if a traditional market is ‘redeveloped’; it means higher prices, shops and traders forced out and social housing knocked down. The end result is that a working class community has been changed into one that is aimed at the well-off. The campaign stresses that cheap shopping is as crucial to maintaining a local community as housing. More and more people are joining the struggle. As one campaigner from Boleyn Development 100 said: ‘Keep the rich off our pitch!’
Number 15 of the East End Howler, the news sheet of Action East End, has just come out just in time for March for Homes demo where we got rid of shedloads.
If you want a copy, or a bundle to distribute, get in touch with us.
This issue features articles on E15 Mothers, fredJohn Towers, Celebrity Activists, New era, , Galliard and Boleyn Ground, Galliard and Capital Towers! Luvverly stuff. Hurry to get your copy before they all run out. Online soon.
West Ham football team will soon be leaving the Boleyn Stadium in Upton Park to move to its new home in the Olympic Park. As a result, the site is up for grabs and the aim is to use the site to build new homes, desperately needed in the local area. However, Newham Council does not seem interested in actually providing homes that can be afforded by the average income earner in Newham (£27,000 a year) and instead seems intent on attracting developers who will build homes at the top-end of the market. This is supported by the fact that they are considering a planning application from Galliard Homes, not known for their commitment to social housing. From their website (http://www.galliardhomes.com/about-us):
A proud 23 year track record of offering support and opportunity to London’s property investors. Delivering luxury new homes in London and far beyond since 1990.
Local residents, including Friends of Queen’s market, have expressed concern both to the developers and to Newham Council, that Galliard’s plans are going to change the character of the area. This could mean that Queen’s Market itself could once again face threats of redevelopment. We support calls by campaigners for 100% social housing on the site, together will green spaces and health facilities. It is time to stop accepting that any new development has to be completely beyond the reach of the local population and begin to fight for and to celebrate the character of East London, keeping it as primarily an ethnically diverse working class community. Apparently, one argument put forward by a council representative was that Newham needs this expensive housing in order to ‘attract new talent’. Clearly, he does not think much of the local people and it seems as if this is another step towards social cleansing. That doesn’t meant there should not be new residents in the area, but not at the expense of those already here.
The next issue of the Howler will examine Galliard’s record as well as provide info on the fightback that is beginning to take off.
Representatives from Class War met with the new owner of 1 Commercial St., Hondo Enterprises, and it looks as if there is grounds for believing that there has been a victory. There has been an agreement to end the segregation and not have two distinct doors. The decision is difficult to put into practice because of the fact that the building will require some structural adjustments. However, the owner has promised talks with all of those affected, both the ‘rich door’ and the ‘poor door’ management groups as well as Class War, with the intention of working out how the segregation can be ended. We would hope that the ‘Poor Door’ residents of the will be central in the decision-making. The problem is that Redrow is still involved in the management of the ‘rich’ side of the building and may resist this move.
Meanwhile, the protests have been suspended, but be prepared to get back there if the talks break down.
This potential victory is clearly a response to the weekly protests which have been going on since the summer. Class War is to be applauded for organising these and keeping it up for so long. We in Action East End have supported this protest in a smaller way for most weeks during the last two months We have focused on distributing leaflets and The Howler to passers-by in order to explain more about the reasons for the protest. We also managed to put a leaflet in every post box of the ‘poor’ part of the building. We certainly agree that this campaign has been a massive success but we have to keep in mind that it is not just a question of getting rid of the segregation. The problem is the fact that there are so many housing developments that cater to the well-off and so little that provide homes for working class Londoners. Even in the ‘Poor Doors’ part of the building, rents and prices are not within the range of most people. The housing is advertised as ‘affordable’ which is 80% of market rents. We need to be at least fighting for social housing which is 50% of market rents. Even this may be beyond many of the truly poor in London. This issue is at the forefront of the other housing campaigns in East London (see New Era 4 All, E15 Focus, Friends of Queen’s Market posts.)