Monthly Archives: December 2021

Newham residents’ anger over ballot process mounts


Saturday 18 December 2021. People gathered on the Carpenters Estate in Stratford E15 to challenge Newham Labour council and Mayor Rokshana Fiaz after the local ballot returned a Yes vote for the council’s regeneration plan. A Yes vote means demolition of almost 60% of the estate.

Focus E15 campaign along with residents, decanted residents, local people, Brimstone House residents and comrades from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! Newham Resists! and Newham Socialist Labour, spoke out with a clear message that council homes should be refurbished not demolished, that the council’s agenda is one of pursuing maximum profit, not housing those most in need, and that the local Labour councillors are part of the problem not the solution. As one speaker said, if they stand on the right side of history, they should resist or resign. 

For two decades the council has been chipping away at the community and leaving homes empty and watching them fall into disrepair. As part of this current phase, the council has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds to secure a Yes vote in the ballot, now rubbing their hands with glee that they have the green light to destroy more council housing. A resident from the estate was clear – how dare the council keep families cooped up in Brimstone House, overcrowded and unsuitable for families and children, while over 400 council homes lie empty on the Carpenters Estate.  

A former resident of 40 years on the estate, decanted in 2011, with empty promises of the right of return, said, people know they are being lied to and the fight is not over.  
As Thomas Sankara, African revolutionary from Burkina Faso, said in the 1980s:To those who have acquired houses and land through corruption, we say: Start to tremble!


Expose the corruption of the Labour council in Newham!
Refurbish, Don’t Demolish the Carpenters Estate! 
Stand together to demand housing justice!

Focus E15 campaign sends solidarity greetings to all at the end of this complex year, thank you to all those who have supported the campaign through the lockdowns and restrictions. Let us move forward together in 2022.

The people united will never be defeated!

*BREAKING NEWS* Carpenters estate: Newham buy a Yes vote to demolition

RESIDENTS ACCUSE NEWHAM LABOUR COUNCIL OF SPENDING PUBLIC MONEY TO FORCE THROUGH A VOTE FOR DEMOLITION

On Tuesday 14 December 2021, a resident ballot on the Carpenters Estate in Newham, East London, returned a Yes vote in favour of the council’s regeneration plans, meaning almost 60% of the estate will be demolished for ‘regeneration’.  This is a deep blow for residents who want to refurbish and save the existing estate as it is.

Residents have called out the whole of the ballot process as being deeply biased in favour of the council’s plans. Newham council and the council’s housing company, Populo Living have spent at least £350,000 on campaigning for a Yes vote, whilst campaigners had no access to public funds.

Throughout the consultation and ballot process, Carpenters’ residents and supporters of Focus E15 campaign have complained of underhand tactics used by Newham Council and Populo Living. Blatant propaganda posed the council’s plans as the only viable option.                                       

For example, Populo Living’s newsletter of October 2021, states:

  • The future of The Carpenters is up to you – if you want to build a stronger estate, you need to vote YES in the ballot at the end of October.

‘Vote Yes’ graphics have been seen on billboards, newsletters, community spaces and in the Landlord Offer document which the vote was based on. Residents have told of continual door-knocking on the estate by both Populo Living and Source Partnership employees who are the Independent Resident and Tenants Advisors.

A huge amount of public money has been spent in the process of canvassing for a yes vote. A Freedom of Information request found out that at least:

  1. £146,275 has been spent by Newham Council on running consultancy services
  2. £224,000 has been sent by Populo Living on running consultancy services
  3. £4,400 was spent on a Community fun day

Newham Council has followed the GLA’s Good Guide to Estate Regeneration in order to secure funding for future development.

However from July 2018 to March 2020, all of the ballots held on estates in London have resulted in ‘Yes’ votes for regeneration – in every case this resulted in demolition.  

Councillors in Haringey have been so outraged by this process that they have called for an independent inquiry into the regeneration ballot carried out on the Love Lane Estate, following allegations of pressure put on residents.

Under GLA guidance, neither Newham Council nor Populo Living is required to put forward a balanced argument and they are allowed to lobby with huge resources for their preferred position. Residents who wish to lobby against the council have no resources made available to them.

Such one-sided campaigning and clear inequality are unlawful in referendums and elections.

The Greater London Authority and Local Authorities’ ballots are a cover, using the voting and the notion of democracy for ultimately destroying council homes. This corrupt and unequal process must end.

Focus E15 campaign and residents will be meeting on the Carpenters Estate, Newham, London E15, from 12-2pm on Saturday 18 December (next to the shop in the middle of the estate) to discuss the next steps in our campaigning, to shine a spotlight on housing issues in East London and say to the council and Populo Living:

Hands off the Carpenters Estate! Join us and residents to make more plans on Saturday 18 on the estate. Together we are stronger.

We want council housing and homes for life!

Another family has been moved into the hostel Brimstone House in Victoria Street in Stratford during the last eight weeks. This means that Newham Labour council and Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz still think that rooms built for single young people are adequate to house families. This has to stop! People need to be housed in decent housing. Shame on the council and those in local government who sit by and let the housing crisis in Newham escalate whilst people suffer and homes remain empty. 

This family is a father, a mother and a four month old baby. There is just about space for a double bed and a sofa. Currently the father sleeps on the sofa while the mother sleeps with the baby in the bed, which is against the advice from midwives, health visitors and GPs about safe sleeping for babies. It is just not appropriate for an adult to sleep all night on a sofa.

There is little or no ventilation, the room is quickly filled with cooking smells which can be overpowering, and the toilet flush does not work properly despite repeated requests for it to be fixed, it has not been repaired. The alarm continues to go off in the building and there is drilling early in the morning. It is no wonder that these parents are distressed, tearful and unwell. There is no space and nowhere to put their belongings. It is clear that Brimstone House is no place to raise a child and the housing is not suitable.  

Meanwhile, the roomy council flats around the corner on Carpenters estate remain empty and there are trees growing out of them! What a waste. We want to save every single council flat on this estate because this housing offers the chance for long term stability, community and cheap rent. A chance for a decent life.

Please join us on Saturday 18 December 12-2pm on the Carpenters Estate where over 400 home have stood empty for over a decade, where currently a ballot is underway and where the council is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds to secure a yes vote to its regeneration scheme which will mean demolishing 60% of the estate.

We need more council homes, not fewer!
We need families like the one above from Brimstone House, and the thousands of others on the housing waiting list and those in temporary and emergency accommodation, to be housed decently.

Join us on Saturday 18 December at 12 noon in the middle of Carpenters Estate in Stratford (near the shop) to fight for housing, to make a stand against capitalism, against racism in housing and to restore people’s dignity.

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