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!’