Please click the link below to read the Newham Nag which was put together by Focus E15 campaign and Debt Resistance UK
With thanks to James from FRFI who helped with the fantastic design
Rydon is the company that led the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower during 2015-16 which resulted in external cladding being installed onto the face of the tower block. Metropolitan Police have launched a criminal investigation into the fire and have said that the cladding and installation fitted at Grenfell had failed “all safety tests”.
Rydon has spent the last 40 years developing its business via public sector contracts. Thank you to Trevor Rayne from the newspaper Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism who has discovered more information about this little known British-based company. We have reprinted some of his research below.
Rydon employs over 750 staff and paid out £8.4m to shareholders in 2016. Rydon’s chief executive is Robert Bond who received a salary of £424,000 last year and as a shareholder received an estimated £1.4m in dividend payments.
Other Rydon shareholders include two Jersey firms registered in the offshore tax haven of Jersey, including one set up by Lloyds Bank. HBOS put up money for a management buyout in 2005. HBOS is now owned by Lloyds.
- In 1997 Rydon was registered as a provider to housing associations, local authorities, NHS Trusts and the education sector.
- 2002 Rydon entered the Public Private Partnership market with the PFI scheme for the Chalcots Estate in Camden.
- 2004 Rydon secured the largest mental health PFI contract in the country for the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust.
The Royal Borough of Kensignton and Chelsea are also under intense scrutiny due to negligence over fire safety standards as the Grenfell Action Group blog painstakingly points out. Focus E15 campaign will be supporting the forthcoming demands of this housing campaign.
People of East London! Join Focus E15 on the street stall on Saturday July 1st at 12pm – 2pm in Stratford outside Wilkos to demand:
PUBLIC HOUSING NOT PRIVATE PROFIT
Social Housing, not social cleansing!
Justice for Grenfell!
The disaster at Grenfell Tower, is a heart wrenching and unbearable ‘social murder’ on a devastating scale. Focus E15 campaign have been responding to this atrocity and politically charged moment by organising speak outs in the community and attending residents meetings. The campaign is urging tenants across the country to take immediate action and organise together to put pressure on local councils to ensure the safety of all tenants in their neighbourhoods.
We also know full well the frustrations of dealing with councils who refuse to listen to their tenants concerns and understand how worried people will be about the safety of their homes.
On Thursday 22 June a BBC radio programme called World Tonight investigated a tower block in Newham in east London called Ferrier Point. A BBC reporter called Andrew Hosken took two fire experts, Professor Arnold Dix and Arnold Tarling into this particular tower block because Ferrier Point is covered in cladding similar to that used on Grenfell Tower and was worked on by the same contractors, Rydon Ltd. Both experts on the programme were horrified by what they saw regarding the lack of fire safety standards in the block and voiced serious concerns over residents safety.
One expert said, ‘already my hair is standing on end’, after noticing that the windows could not offer a potential escape route. Residents would be trapped behind fully fixed double-glazing that they would be unable to open in the event of a fire. As they moved inside to check the boiler, one of the fire surveyors exclaimed, ‘crikey;’ as it dawned on him that flammable plywood was connected to the boiler and went into every single flat, essentially meaning that there is a fire route into each living quarter. He also observed that it would be impossible for fire services to access the boiler in order to stop a fire. A resident in the building claimed that she hadn’t even used her boiler for three years as she was worried about a potential gas leak.
When asked if the building would pass a fire inspection, the surveyors replied that Ferrier Point was ‘an absolutely unequivocal fail’, and ‘a failure with capital letters in neon flashing signs’.
Focus E15 campaign therefore urge Newham council to take immediate action over Ferrier point. We demand that they put people before profit! The council must act and remove flammable cladding from all buildings in Newham to ensure the safety of residents. We also urge the council to inform the public of their immediate plans in light of the fire at Grenfell Tower and to take urgent and effective action. It is disturbing to note that Newham council have not yet announced on the council website what they intend to do.
Focus E15 campaign are also clear that the Grenfell tower fire should not become part of a cynical excuse to get rid of remaining social housing stock in the false name of regeneration (as it was this cosmetic tinkering and lack of overall quality control that certainly caused the fire to spread so fast at Grenfell Tower). Social housing is not the problem here but must be part of the desperately needed solution to the escalating housing crisis – after all Newham has recently been shown to have the highest amount of homeless people in the whole of the UK.
Please join the campaign to speak out and make plans to work together in the community to put more political pressure on Newham council regarding our housing needs. Join us on the street stall every Saturday from 12-2pm outside Wilkos on the Broadway to say:
Justice For Grenfell!
SOCIAL HOUSING NOT SOCIAL CLEANSING!
Focus E15 campaign sends condolences to everyone affected by those who died in the fire at Grenfell Tower and offers our solidarity and support to the residents. We will continue to fight alongside you in the struggle for decent long-term secure safe housing for all.
In November 2016, Grenfell Action Group said:
‘It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO, and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders. We believe that the KCTMO are an evil, unprincipled, mini-mafia who have no business to be charged with the responsibility of looking after the every day management of large scale social housing estates and that their sordid collusion with the RBKC Council is a recipe for a future major disaster.’
Follow Grenfell Action Group, Focus E15 campaign, Radical Housing Network and others for details of coming events, meetings and actions.
Demonstrate: Justice for Grenfell
Friday 16 June 6pm
Department for Communities and Local Government
2 Marsham Street, SW1P 4DF
We reprint below the press statement by Radical Housing Network and urge readers to look at the blog pieces of the Grenfell Action Group, who for years have campaigned and written about the criminal inadequacies of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) and the estate landlord Kensington and Chelsea Tenants Management Organisation (KCTMO).
No time for your Housing issues, we have an election on…
This is what Labour MP for East Ham Stephen Timms said to Chantelle, when she visited him last week as a last resort in her struggle for decent long-term accommodation with her young son in Newham.
Three years ago, Chantelle and her two month old son, were placed by Newham Council, under the Bond Scheme, in private-rented accommodation. The flat has mice and cockroaches, damp, no loft insulation and intermittent problems with the boiler leaving Chantelle and her son with periods of no hot water or heating. Chantelle’s son is in a local nursery and has a place in the school for September 2017.
Out of the blue, in January 2017, Chantelle received a Section 21 Notice of Possession (Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, is the legal eviction notice a landlord can give to a tenant to regain possession of a property at the end of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy). Frightened by the prospect of homelessness with her young son, Chantelle sought advice and Newham Council advised Chantelle to stay put, not to move out to stay with a family member as she would then be making herself intentionally homeless. She was advised to look for private accommodation in the two weeks that followed and when she was not successful, she was then advised by the housing office to go through with the eviction process and she was told she would not be liable for court fees.
However outrageously Chantelle has been ordered to pay court costs of £355 to the landlord for this eviction and bailiff’s have been summoned to evict her, creating more stress and anxiety for Chantelle and her son.
Chantelle’s case worker has said that once the bailiffs have come and Chantelle is on the streets she will be given emergency accommodation, but only out of London. The case worker said that unless a child is in their GCSE year, they are ‘expendable’ and will cope with being moved away from their family, friends and teachers.
Labour Mayor Robin Wales in his address to the Annual Council Meeting last month said that Newham ‘has real Labour values that create for each of us the means to realise our true potential’ and boasted that Newham has ‘amongst the best services in London’ and ‘doing more than other boroughs to get rid of rogue landlords’ and as housing reaches a crisis point, Newham is ‘showing the way for others to follow’.
The reality is that social cleansing continues, with people like Chantelle being forced out of borough and out of London, tearing them away from their family and support networks, their children’s schools and their jobs or job prospects. Meanwhile thousands of homes lie empty in the Newham, not least over 400 homes on the Carpenters Estate in Stratford.
Chantelle will be at STRATFORD MAGISTRATE COURT 389-397 High Street E15 4SB Tuesday 6 June at 2pm. She should not be financially penalised. Chantelle knows that her struggle is the struggle of thousands of people across London. Focus E15 campaign will be there to support her when she requests an extension to stay in her current property and for the court costs to be waived. The struggle goes on to ensure that Chantelle and her young son are not moved out of Newham.
Social housing! Not social cleansing!
Read all about it. Real news hits the streets of Newham
Focus E15 campaign and Debt Resistance UK joined forces to launch a one off publication, the Newham Nag on Saturday 20 May outside Stratford station in London. Both campaigns agree that Robin Wales and the Labour council in Newham continue to pull the wool over the eyes of residents and this needs to be exposed. The Newham Nag draws attention to the official publication for Newham council, the Newham Mag. This latter publication paints a rosy version of Newham that is unrecognisable to those who are facing the effects of years of austerity and council cuts. Clearly an alternative voice is needed in Newham!
Passersby flocked to get their free copy of the Newham Nag and stayed around to chat to campaigners. Speakers on the community sound system included Debt Resistance, Focus E15 campaign and Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! with a special Newham news and weather bulletin from our very own correspondent. Points were made about the financial scandals, the growing disparity in wealth in the borough, gentrification, social cleansing, the corruption in the Labour Party at local level, the ongoing cuts to services and the appalling state of temporary and emergency accommodation that people are being forced into as evictions and homelessness increase.
The event was brought alive by some special guests including someone dressed up as Sylvia Pankhurst, the revolutionary, anti-fascist, communist, who was also campaigning in east London for the rights of working class women a hundred years ago; there was someone dressed up as Lyn Brown, the local Labour MP who received a fair few boos and also someone dressed up as a council worker and a cockroach, a symbol of the overcrowded slum living conditions that many residents have to put up with in Newham.
Just as members of the public came forward to share their stories the police and local enforcement officers approached campaigners and suggested that there may be a problem with the street event under S137 of the Highways Act. It was hard to take this seriously given the amount of space available outside Stratford station and no passersby were complaining. After some discussions, with police officers ominously hanging around, the enforcement officers came back to announce that they were now going to ‘take enforcement action’, which turned out to be the threat of issuing a penalty notice, which they never did as campaigners took to the community sound system and made points about police harassment – a fine lesson in standing your ground and knowing your rights and garnering the support of people on the streets.
The council may not want us distributing real information but we won’t be silenced.
Come and get your copy of the Newham Nag, available every Saturday on the Focus E15 stall 12-2pm outside Wilko’s on The Broadway, Stratford E15. Email email@example.com for more information.
For more information about the work of Debt Resistance UK and their involvement in exposing local council financial scandals all around Britain, see lada.debtresistance.uk.
It all started three years ago, when 29 young mothers fought back against their evictions from Newham.
They refused to accept that their children would have to grow up without knowing their families, and that they would be cut off from their friends and communities. They demanded to be kept in London, to continue to live in the area they know as home.
After a fierce and lively campaign, Newham council conceded to the demands of the mothers and rehoused them in the local area. This was a victory for the mothers, and the Focus E15 Campaign was born.
Since then, the campaign has grown beyond what any of us could have been imagined, and Focus E15 has successfully brought the issues of social cleansing and unjust housing to the forefront of the political left and into the public eye. Joined by residents, feminists, anarchists, academics, theatre makers, artists and by the regular input of the East London Revolutionary Communist Group, the campaign with panache, determination and steadfastness has kept a weekly presence on the streets for 3 years.
On the first anniversary of the campaign, we staged a political occupation of four boarded up homes on the Carpenters Estate, where 600 empty homes sat in the shadow of the Olympic Park. Newham Council had said the properties on the estate were inhospitable, allegedly due to asbestos. Yet outrageously, during the Olympic Games, the council accommodated the Press in some of the depopulated flats in the tower blocks. This direct action brought attention to the fact that in a London Borough where 20,000 people are on the social housing waiting list, perfectly good homes sit empty, left to rot in order to justify their demolition to make way for luxury apartments.
The Occupation lasted for two weeks, during which Focus E15 were harassed by the council and our water supply was cut off. But with increased public support and media attention, the council, led by Robin Wales was forced to issue an apology in The Guardian newspaper. We left the occupied flats, peacefully and of our own accord, and the council agreed to open up 40 empty properties on Carpenters Estate, providing homes for people who desperately need them.
Last year, for our second anniversary we held a March Against Evictions, across the borough of Newham. Over a thousand people marched with us in solidarity, demanding safe and decent homes for all. The march ended back at the Carpenters Estate, and brought together an amazing assembly of local community groups, housing activists, squatters, communists and so many more. It was an amazing day, and demonstrated the growing strength of a grassroots movement for just housing.
Focus E15 has continued to go from strength to strength; fighting against evictions, homelessness and social injustice, and helping to inspire and empower disenfranchised and marginalised communities. Every week we are on the street, at our stall talking to the public, engaging with local communities and helping those that seek our support to raise awareness of the housing crisis. The campaign has demonstrated at council meetings, occupied empty council flats, accompanied residents to housing appointments, demonstrated on balconies, held rallies to raise awareness around housing and mental health issues and ensured that the street stall has a strong anti racist stance.
This year we managed to acquire some funding to open up our new office space, Sylvia’s Corner, named after a nod to the militant suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst. It is fast becoming a radical hub in East London: open to other campaigns, hosting political meetings, screening free revolutionary films and providing a space for the local community to come and engage with the campaign. Spaces such as Sylvia’s Corner are becoming ever more necessary within the continuing gentrification of London. We must make sure that as grassroots working class activists we continue to hold spaces in a city that private developers and landlords are trying to claim solely as their own.
Recently Focus E15 has been supporting an emerging campaign of mothers who have been pushed out of their homes and out of London by Waltham Forest Council. Boundary House Residents Fight Back have been fighting against appalling conditions in their temporary accommodation. Young children have been forced to live in one room apartments, with mould, cockroaches, dangerous facilities and large windows that do not lock, leaving a potential death trap for inquisitive children in the third floor flats.
Boundary House accommodation, in Welwyn Garden City, is over 20 miles, and an expensive train fair, from Waltham Forest. Young mothers have been forced to quit their jobs as they are not able to afford the commute. They have been separated from their families, their support networks, and dumped in rundown accommodation that was originally built to accommodate single training nurses and midwives, not familes.
Waltham Forest Council have told us that “Boundary House meets their required standards for temporary accommodation”, and they have admitted to encouraging residents to move into the private rented sector. Focus E15 has supported the residents in stating that this is simply not good enough. Boundary House Residents have begun their fight back against their unsafe housing, staging protests at the council housing office and holding a ‘Nag Week’ by bombarding Waltham Forest Council with complaints.
On the 28th of October at 11am, Boundary House Residents will be leading a protest outside Theori Housing, the property management company hired by Waltham Forest council to manage temporary accommodation. Support Boundary House Residents, and join Focus E15 when we demand safe and decent accommodation for all.
Three years ago, Newham Council underestimated the strength of working class mothers coming together and demanding their right to safe and decent housing in London. Today, Newham Council sees us as a threat. They continue to try and undermine our struggle, from harassing and detaining our campaign members to stealing our tables.
But we will not be silenced and we will not be stopped. We have a lot of struggles ahead, most notably with enactment of the Housing and Planning Act, which if successful will essentially mean the end of social housing.
But together we are stronger. Working collectively, with grassroots and working class movements leading the way, we will continue to fight against social cleansing and for safe and decent housing for all.
Three years ago, 29 young mothers demonstrated the power of the people working together and fighting against injustice. Today, with working class mothers at the front and heart of our campaign, we continue that struggle.
In the words of Jasmin and Sam;
“This is the beginning of the end of the housing crisis”
Join us to fight for long term secure housing at the first of a series of events marking 3 years of the Focus E15 campaign. We will be having an anniversary street stall outside Wilkos on Saturday 24 September at 12-2pm. Join us!
This photo is a strong statement put out by Focus E15 campaign in September 2014. Taken on the first anniversary of the campaign, it shows the political occupation of empty flats on the Carpenters Estate in Stratford. It exposes the lies of Newham Council and Labour mayor Robin Wales, who continued then and continue today, to send people, adults and children, out of borough and out of London for housing, when there are perfectly good homes locally. This action highlighted the years of sustained work by the residents of the Carpenters Estate who have fought, and continue to fight, to save their estate, against all machinations of the council which reached a peak in the run up to the Olympic Games 2012. We will not keep our eyes of this estate. Focus E15 campaign’s demand to Newham Council remains:
REPOPULATE – CARPENTERS ESTATE!
THIRD BIRTHDAY EVENT
Focus E15 campaign is celebrating its third anniversary and as part of a series of events, invites you to come and join us this Saturday 24 September 12-2pm outside Wilko’s on The Broadway E15 on our weekly stall, with open mic. Bring family, friends, bring stalls and leaflets, bring information and enthusiasm, bring resistance and strength, bring your housing stories and your reality – the fight for decent, affordable, stable, long term housing is underway and together we are stronger.
BOUNDARY HOUSE, WELWYN GARDEN CITY
No to Unsafe and Unsuitable accommodation
The residents of Boundary House are speaking out, fighting back, exposing the practices of the councils who have sent them miles from their families, support networks, schools, jobs etc to unsuitable, unsafe and unsanitary accommodation. In the next few weeks there will be a series of events culminating with a protest in Leyton, east London, on Friday 28 October to expose the role of Theori Investment, the housing management company working with local authorities to secure accommodation in places such as Boundary House.
No to Unsafe and Unsuitable accommodation – follow the residents’ fight on facebook and twitter.
EAST END SISTERS UNCUT
Congratulations to the sisters who celebrated nine weeks in a reclaimed space in Hackney, raising the issues of the cuts to services for women facing or fleeing domestic violence and winning significant demands from Hackney Council who have promised to fill all empty homes in Hackney by September 2017, stop using private hostels and B&Bs for domestic violence survivors, to provide specialist domestic violence training to all hostel staff.
Keep the pressure up and get involved.
Last week the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, accepted the Government Inspector’s recommendation not to confirm Southwark Labour Council’s Compulsory Purchase Order on the homes of leaseholders on the First Development Site of the Aylesbury Estate regeneration. This is an important precedent and we need to understand what lies behind this unexpected decision.
Read more about this from Architects for Social Housing.
Free political cinema in Sylvia’s Corner, 97 Aldworth Road, London E1 4DN – all at 7.30pm
Thursday 29 September – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – powerful documentary about people’s power in revolutionary Venezuela
Thursday 27 October – The Working Class Goes To Heaven – 1971 film about trade union and student struggles
Thursday 24 November – Every Cook Can Govern – documenting the life, impact and works of CLR James. Hosted by East London Radical Assembly.
Thursday 8 December – Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners. Hosted by East London Revolutionary Communist Group.
Contact Focus E15 Campaign if you would like to show a film as part of Sylvia Screenings.
Newham Labour Council – where can Charlie live now?
On a Saturday afternoon in February 2016, a young man called Charlie approached the Focus E15 campaign stall, drawn to the campaign’s message of decent housing for all. Charlie has been street homeless for some years. He approached the stall because he wanted to show his solidarity with the campaign and was keen to buy a social housing not social cleansing badge. Since then, Charlie has become a regular on our street stall, getting to know the campaigners and gaining the confidence to attend his first ever public demonstration which was against the Housing and Planning Bill last month. There he joined in with thousands of others demanding housing justice for all. He took the microphone during the march and could be heard telling the politicians implementing the pernicious bill to “stick it!”
Focus E15 campaign supports Charlie in his demand to be housed. He can not move forward with his life living rough on the streets because he is stuck in a cycle of despair and anxiety. It is young people like Charlie that are the group now most at risk of living in poverty. Nearly half of people living in homeless accommodation services are aged between 16- 24. Not getting the vital support they need at this crucial time in their lives has a damaging impact on employment, education, health and well being, and, they are also likely to experience homelessness at an older age (Homeless Link 2015).
The campaign was outraged to learn that on 22 March, in the early hours of the morning, Charlie, whilst sleeping rough, received a visit from several officials, two of which were from Newham council. He was handed a ‘rough sleeping warning notice’. He was told to immediately move on due to his ‘anti-social behaviour of sleeping’ and bedding down in the ‘wrong location’. Charlie felt intimidated. A warning notice stated that in order to avoid receiving a Community Protection Notice Charlie should leave the place they found him – within five minutes of being told. Furthermore it was stated that he should not return and not bed down on any land or empty building in the borough of Newham. Charlie was worried. He was was then told that if he does not comply, he will be fined and if he does not pay the fine he will go to court and get a bigger fine.
Intimidation of vulnerable young people is not acceptable. Charlie has to sleep somewhere. Sleeping and having a stable home is a human need and a human right! This is why ‘market forces’ should not be left to dictate housing planning and allocation – because housing is a vital public resource. Homes like those on the Carpenters Estate should not be left empty in the midst of a housing crisis. Newham Council has a duty to help Charlie and the rising number of rough sleepers in the borough.
While our lawyers get to work on this warning letter, we appeal to Newham Labour council to find a solution for Charlie as soon as possible because his situation is desperate.
Repopulate the Carpenters Estate in Stratford! Let young men like Charlie live! He needs a chance and he needs a home!
Please share this story and tweet at Newhamlondon to raise awareness of street homelessness
Focus E15 campaign on the streets every Saturday
join us on the stall 12-2pm outside Wilko’s on the Broadway, Stratford E15
Saturday 27 February – campaign meeting 2.30-4.30pm
Bryant Street Methodist Church, Bryant Street, E15 4RU
Street homelessness on the increase…
Last week on the stall we met Charlie who is 20 years old and has been homeless for two years.
Read about him on our blog.
This article was published in the Guardian today
The number of people sleeping rough in England on any one night has doubled since 2010 and increased by 30% in the last year, with an estimated 3,569 people now sleeping on the streets across England, according to new government figures.
Social cleansing – fight for decent housing for those sent to Boundary House in Welwyn Garden City
Newham has sent families with young children to appalling overcrowded bedsits in Welwyn Garden City – read this piece by Kate Belgrave and come and support Elina, one of the last residents in Boundary House, fighting for her and her children’s right to decent accommodation near her support networks. Don’t let these families fight alone, make our disgust public.
Brimstone House / Focus E15 hostel, where Focus E15 campaign originated with the collective strength of the single mothers facing social cleansing, has East Thames Housing Association residents who were placed there originally by Newham Council as vulnerable young adults in need of supported living. Those remaining have now received threatening High Court letters about bailiffs. Newham cannot wash their hands of these young people and must house them locally. Join Focus E15 campaign to give them support and make our outrage known.
Cuts budget unanimously approved by Labour councillors
Having thought about all that – think of Robin Wales, mayor of Newham and his cuts budget.
On 22 February Newham Labour council met with a full public gallery of…16 people. After the handpicked 16 had entered the public gallery, the rest were put in the Lister Room with a screen to see the procedings. Very distorted sound meant difficulty understanding all the contributions. If it wasn’t for Councillor Clark who spoke of the housing crisis with rising temporary accommodation, unsutainable cost of temporary accommodation and the people moved out of borough and out of London, then housing would hardly have been mentioned by Labour Mayor Robin Wales. He spoke of his new proposal of ‘Fairer Rent’ due to come in, blamed the problems on the asuterity programme from our Tory government and promised that there would be no cuts in meaningful services, lots of money for improving roads, pavements and lighting and patted himself on the back saying he was ‘proud of this outstanding budget’. It was agreed unanimously by all the councillors present. Somehow they have reduced a £54m cuts to £37m cuts and all seemed happy with the plan to cut the back services without affecting frontline services (how?) and that Robin Wales will review anything that is brought to him.
Well we have to bring things to Robin Wales’ attention – the homelessness, those being sent out of Newham away from family, friends, schools and support networks, the vicious Housing Bill and the Immigration Bill and the 400 empty homes on the Carpenters Estate that must be used immediately to house people in need.
In Neighbouring Walthamstow, 63 properties from Butterfields estate, recently bought by property company Butterfields E17, are being advertised for sale as empty properties while tenants are still there, some who have lived there for decades.
Come to our stalls and meetings, add your ideas for action, support those struggling for housing in your area and let’s get together, solidarity is strength.