Category Archives: public action

NOT the Mayor’s Newham Show -Sunday street stall

Join the campaign on Sunday July 10 at  Newham Town Hall, Barking Road, East Ham from 3pm onwards.

Focus E15 campaign will be setting up a street stall at Newham Town Hall this Sunday at 3pm to shine a spotlight on Newham’s housing crisis during the Mayor’s Newham Show. Last year campaigners were forcibly removed from the show as they spoke out against evictions and social cleansing. This year we will celebrate our resistance by setting up a special street stall outside the town hall. During the street stall we will be speaking out against evictions and highlighting that:

Newham has the most empty properties out of any London borough, around 1,318 properties are lying empty – the total value of these empty properties stands at almost £470m.

IMG_20150919_131504246
In September 2015 Focus E15 organised a March Against Evictions that took place in Newham

In 2015, 244 families from Newham were permanently sent out of London, with Newham Council citing that there was no space or money to house them in the borough.

If these issues matter to you, come and join out street stall outside East Ham town hall. If you have not been to the street stall before, just come and say hello if you are passing to go to the Newham Show. Join the campaign to demand that the empty properties in Newham are opened up to those who need them most. Put human being first! Stop sending people out of London.Decent homes for everyone!
Join the special street stall this Sunday and make your voices heard with Focus E15 campaign.

Please help spread the word and keep up to date with this event by joining the facebook event

Social Housing, NOT social cleansing!

Children forced to live in appalling conditions

On Monday 27th June 2016, Boundary House residents went to Waltham Forest council’s housing office, Cedar House, to fight back against the appalling conditions they have been forced to live in.

Boundary House is a block of one-bedroom flats of ‘temporary accommodation’ in Welwyn Garden City which is outside London. From there it is a long and expensive commute back to Walthamstow where most of its current residents are from. The distance and cost means that residents are isolated from their family, friends and support networks, with one mother of two being forced to quit her job in London, as she could no longer afford the commute.

The conditions there are terrible, with mould, cockroaches, overcrowding and dangerous faulty appliances. One resident, pregnant and living with her young daughter, had to survive the winter with no heating. Still today, their heating has not been fixed.

On the third floor of Boundary house there is a young mother living with her now four month old baby, who was delivered by C-section. As there are no lifts in the block of flats, and the block is not safe or secure enough to leave the pushchair down stairs, every time this mother wants to go out she must carry her baby in the pushchair up and down three flights of stairs. The strain of this has meant that she has not been able to fully heal from the operation.

Boundary House was not built with families in mind. Nonetheless, Waltham Forest council have been sending their constituents to this accommodation and have done nothing to ensure the properties are fit for purpose. When Boundary House residents tried to raise these issues to Waltham Forest council, they have received little, if any, responses to their letters, phone calls and emails.

wp-1467227705659.jpg
Boundary House residents prepare to march to the housing office

This is why on Monday 27th of June, Boundary House residents decided enough if enough. Supported by Focus E15, and others,  we marched on the housing office, as a united community to demand to speak to someone who could act upon our demands. When we arrived,  security tried to refuse us entrance into the office. But we did not stand for it and insisted to be let it. Once the security had conceded to our demands to enter, we were told the Director of housing would not be able meet us. We refused to accept this and told them we would not move until Boundary House residents were able to speak to someone in charge.

It did not take long for the council to concede, and we won a group meeting with the Director of Housing for Waltham Forest Council, whom some Boundary House residents have been trying to get in contact with for over two years. We were taken to a conference room, and every resident had the chance to tell their story, express their concerns, fears and frustrations, and to demand the Waltham Forest Council treat its residents with respect and dignity.

In the meeting, the Director of Housing agreed to listen to our demands, to investigate the appalling conditions of Boundary House, and to hold another meeting in the coming weeks to update Boundary House residents as to what actions they have taken improve from the current conditions. This is a small victory of Boundary House Residents.

The action has demonstrated that when we fight together, they cannot ignore us! We will continue to fight, to make sure that Waltham Forest council holds true to their words, and we will continue to demand that Waltham Forest council bring Boundary House residents back to London.

SOCIAL HOUSING NOT SOCIAL CLEANSING!
Joins us on our street stall in Stratford outside Wilkos on the Broadway on Saturday from 12pm.

 

The Focus E15 newsletter is out now

Tomorrow Saturday 30 January – Join Focus E15 contingent to: 

March Against the Housing Bill!

(there will be no Stratford stall outside Wilko’s).

Travel to the start together… meet Focus E15 at Stratford station at 11am (outside the exit that leads onto the bus station, near the train statue).

https://www.facebook.com/events/817880454987012/

The march, organised by Lambeth Housing Activists, starts from the Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, SE1 6HZ (nearest tube Lambeth North) and will march to Downing Street for 2pm.

See below re other events and actions related to opposing the Housing Bill.

————————–

Tonight Friday 29 and tomorrow Saturday 30 January

Land of the Three Towers

A community theatre piece celebrating Focus E15 occupation of Carpenters Estate in 2014

https://www.cptheatre.co.uk/production/land-three-towers/

Congratulations to FYSA theatre company for the latest E15 performances. Reviewed below and more performances scheduled for later this year.

https://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/2016/e15-review-at-camden-peoples-theatre-london-a-rallying-cry/

—————————————

Two campaign events on Saturday 13 February 2016

Focus E15 campaign stall 12-2pm on the Broadway outside Wilkos in Stratford. 

We will be supporting the Radical Housing Network’s call for action against the housing bill. Come and speak out, leaflet  and use the open mic. Make plans, talk to people on the streets to make the housing movement grow. All welcome. Take part in East London Radical Assembly’s stall crawl and get involved with the housing movement in your area.

Focus E15 campaign meeting and the Immigration Bill 2.30-4.30pm

Bryant Street Methodist Church, Bryant Street, E15 4RU

Come and hear a speaker from RAMFEL – Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London  www.ramfel.org.uk/

Discussion in particular about the Immigration Bill and the impact on housing and planning future events.

Big Thank you to Simon from Architects for Social Housing who spoke about the housing bill at the last meeting.

https://architectsforsocialhousing.wordpress.com/

——————————–


HOUSING AND PLANNING BILL CALENDAR

26 January: 2nd Reading of the Bill in the House of Lords (first chance to discuss areas where amendments are needed, so start lobbying Lords before this date). Defend Council Housing lobbying Southwark Council offices at 160 Tooley Street (6.00pm).

30 January: March Against The Housing Bill, called by Lambeth Housing Activists (midday), from Imperial War Museum to Downing Street.

2 February: Defend Council Housing Protest outside Parliament (4.00pm), followed by testimony meeting (5.00-7.00pm), in Committee Room 4a.

6 February: Defend Council Housing organising meeting (11-1pm), Unite the Union, 128 Theobald’s Road.

9 February: Islington Hands Off Our Public Services Commission, public meeting on the Bill (7pm), Islington Town Hall, Upper Street.

10 February: Estimated date of Committee Stage of Bill in House of Lords. Detailed examination of the Bill lasting around two weeks.

13-14 February: We Love Council Housing, weekend of actions against the Bill called by the Radical Housing Network for the Valentine weekend.

24 February: Estimated date of the Report Stage of the Bill, when the House debates any committee amendments. This is shortly (that day or the following week) followed by the Third Reading, the last chance for the House to vote on amendments. Any amendments are then sent back to the Commons for consideration. Then the Bill is sent for Royal Assent.

13 March: Kill the Housing Bill (Act) / Call for Rent Control, National Demonstration called by Defend Council Housing.

16 April: People’s Assembly Against Austerity: March for Health, Homes, Jobs and Education, Central London.

5 May: Elections for London Mayor.

The Housing Bill, civil disobedience and the mothers of Argentina.

Focus E15 campaigner, Saskia writes:

With the imminent implementation of the Housing Bill, Focus E15 Campaign has been reviewing and asking what this legislation means for the growing housing movement.

What is clear from the hours spent at our weekly street stall in East London is that a lot of people do not know what this bill is about. This should not come as a great shock because our experience with key housing information is that the media, local councils and the government cover up the realities of this manufactured  crisis in housing -after all  to be educated is to be free, right?  If the public truly knew and recognised the amount of homes lying empty in their street, borough and country, how long would the propaganda about the need to build more homes, but not being able to due to austerity, really stand up?

The question is how does the housing movement move forward with a deliberately uninformed public as the most  draconian housing legislation in recent British history gets pushed through parliament? Of course our job is to inform people, but what else can we do to convince people to take the action that is needed to repel this bill, boost the housing movement and put the working class on the front foot in the historical fight for suitable housing? We need civil disobedience and a refusal to cooperate with this daylight robbery. We need those forced with massive council rent hikes to refuse to pay them, to be prepared to stand in front of the state in the courts, and to win.

 IMG_20150919_135208764
Focus E15 campaign will be on the March Against the Housing Bill on the 30th January.  This will not be a march which will stop the Housing Bill.  People are not yet coming out  onto the streets in great numbers.  However, let this be a march to show people that when the reality of the housing bill drops through their letter box, their best chance is to join the housing activists they glanced at in the newspaper and in  their news feed, because there will be people who are ready to fight with them.  After all, this was in essence how our campaign began.

Recently at our bimonthly  campaign meeting, we had an excellent presentation about a study looking at the similarities between our campaign and the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (the mothers of the disappeared children in the 70s and 80s in Argentina).  We heard that mothers first challenged the ‘problem’  – by writing letters, complaining to MPs and local representatives and it was when this process failed that the mothers, in both campaigns, became politicised.  Also, significantly, in both struggles there were political activists and others working in the campaign from the start, (some affected by the issues directly, some not) who were ready to give their support -which in turn gave political confidence to the mothers. This helped to give  these campaigns their weight, strength and longevity – the Argentinian mothers continue to fight to this day.

Those that attend the march on the 30th January should be this political weight in the coming period. When the ‘solutions’ the working class are offered fail – then we can be sure 2016 will be the year of unrest the housing movement needs.

Solidarity
Saskia

The Housing and Planning Bill 2015 will put an end to the possibility of decent housing for all; it will see the end of council housing and social housing, while encouraging an unregulated corrupt private rental sector.More and more people will be forced into overcrowded, damp, unsafe housing, taking Britain back to the conditions of over 70 years ago, before the modern welfare state was developed.

We must get together and fight for the right to decent, affordable, secure housing.

Join the Focus E15 campaign on the march to Kill the Housing Bill which is being called for by Lambeth Housing Activists on Saturday January 30th.

Start from Imperial War Museum 12pm ( SE1 6HZ)

March to Cameron’s publicly funded home in Downing Street for 2pm.

 

 

 

CALL OUT: STAND WITH NAZRAH AND ISMAIL! NO PROPERTY DEVELOPERS IN NEWHAM COUNCIL!

On Friday, Nazrah and Ismail, two of the most active members of the Focus E15 campaign, will be facing Newham Council at the Royal Courts of Justice in Central London, and they need your support in the courtroom.

IMG_20150117_130717
Ismail and the boys on a street stall earlier this year

CALLOUT: 10:30am, Friday, December 4, 2015
Central London County Court, Thomas More Building WC2A 2LL

Since coming to a Saturday campaign stall in November 2014, looking for help resisting their family’s eviction, Nazrah and Ismail have worked tirelessly to support other families in Newham and beyond going through housing struggles of their own. They have lived in Newham for over 6 years and developed strong ties and support networks in the borough.

In that time, with their three young boys, the family have experienced their own high court bailiff eviction and been in constant conflict with Newham Council and the Home Office about their housing, right to work (as a teacher and teaching assistant, respectively) and Asylum claims.

On Friday they will be appealing Newham Council’s rejection of their responsibility to house the family, while challenging the role of a senior housing manager at Newham, who is also a board member of a property developer in the borough. The family are arguing that someone who makes a profit from property development, management and rentals, should not be in a position to determine the borough’s housing needs, or decide where families in need should be housed.

Join them in the courtroom on Friday to help keep the pressure on Newham Council!

Stand with Nazrah and Ismail!

No to property developers in Newham Council!

Central London County Court, Thomas More Building WC2A 2LL
10:30am, Friday, December 4, 2015

East London Night of Resistance says everyone needs a home! Join us.

On Wednesday 28 October, join Focus E15 campaign at the King Edward VII pub on the Broadway in Stratford, London E15 for East London Night of Resistance, co-hosted with East London  Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism and East London Radical Assembly.

At the end of the night, we will be going to Stratford Mall to give support to the homeless people of Stratford who seek warmth and shelter and  who are increasingly being moved on by police and security, as gentrification and social cleansing take hold of post-Olympic Stratford. Bring sleeping bags, thermos flasks and solidarity.
While the Carpenters Estate in Stratford has over 400 empty council homes, homelessness is on the increase. As if this scandal wasn’t bad enough, Newham is amongst the 15 least affordable areas for private renting in the country and has one of the worst records in London for rehousing people out of the borough. Last year it moved 423 homeless families out of London altogether.
Join us in the pub from 8pm and then  on the streets to help build the resistance.

Focus E15 campaign will be showing a short film called Squatters  which is about housing issues in London in the 1970s.

Pilar Lopez will be bringing folk music from Spanish freedom fighters. See pilarawa.wordpress.com for more information.
Janine Booth, a punk poet will be performing as well: https://m.facebook.comJanineBoothTheBigJ
Porcupine Dilemma will be playing a few acoustic numbers.

There  could even be a bar room sing-along!Please join our campaigners at the end of the evening when we will be leaving together to show solidarity with the homeless in Newham with a mass sleep out. For the most up to date information see the facebook event page

We will be asking for donations to cover the cost of this event.

100s of people unite to march against evictions in Stratford with Focus E15 Campaign

A march against evictions awoke the heart of Stratford in the East End of London last Saturday when local people, political groups and campaigns took to the streets to demand decent housing for all. The march was militant, diverse and empowering, full of noise, speeches and lively chants. It was led by the original Focus E15 mothers and their families plus others who face being shoved out of London due to a manufactured housing crisis. A local mother, Bianca Ford who is being evicted  with her children on October 12 in Redbridge said she had never been on a march before but marching with others who care about housing issues had given her the confidence to speak out. Afterwards she said that the march had been a ‘real buzz’. Residents from the Focus E15 hostel were also uplifted by the gathering of people and felt like they could speak out about their current housing fears. This shows that our active solidarity brings courage to people, inspiring them to take action.

Ghassem from Asylum Clinic spoke about  migrants, refugees and asylum seekers and the racism and discrimination they face in housing. Class War stormed into Foxtons letting agency, drawing attention to rip off house prices, agency fees and high rents. They were congratulated for taking this action by many on the march. People also became angry and vocal when we passed by Bridge House, Newham’s homelessness housing office: a homemade banner was hung over the entrance demanding Newham Labour council stop social cleansing. Squatters rights were also championed and Sisters Uncut made the links between housing security and the importance of fighting against domestic violence.



Newham Labour Party was criticised for its role in the housing crisis and comrades in the Revolutionary Communist Group were on the megaphone when the march passed by a boarded up Newham Labour Party office.There was no one to be seen, perhaps they were hiding behind the boards…

The march finished up on the Carpenters estate because 3 tower blocks on the estate are still virtually empty. 400 flats have been left to rot by Newham labour party in the middle of one of the worst housing crisis this country has seen in a long time and one that continues to affect the most vulnerable people in our communities. Both Sam and Jasmin from the campaign spoke about the actions the campaign has taken to place the housing crisis on the political agenda in Newham and beyond. They then untied 100s of balloons which symbolized the 50,000 people who have been forced to move out of borough  (in London) during the past 3 years.

Newham Mayor’s security behave like crocodiles

Below is our response that we are sending to the Newham Recorder regarding their recent article and the outrageous comments from council spokespeople about Focus E15 campaigners. Please also scroll down to watch the latest video about the Mayors Newham show.

Dear Newham Recorder,
The spokespeople from Newham council were clearly not in the park judging by their comments. We did not go ‘with the sole intention of disrupting this fun day, causing upset to families with…aggressive and confrontational behaviour’. We went to talk to people and to give out leaflets, hardly an aggressive crime in a public park. As Ben Geraghty from the campaign, quoted in your article says, our ‘intention was to raise awareness’.

In fact we barely had time to talk to anyone before we were rounded on by aggressive APS security staff, who snatched away our leaflets and placards before herding, dragging and pushing us out of the park. The video which shows this action has now been seen by over 14,000 people on facebook.

The security staff certainly did not evict us to ‘ensure the safety of the members of the public’ or because of any ‘threatening behaviour’ on our part. Such council statements are an attempt to draw attention away from the aggression shown by their security. Everyone we spoke to inside the Newham Show showed great interest and support for the campaign because the housing crisis in Newham is affecting so many people.

Focus E15 campaign wanted to leaflet  people attending the Mayor’s Newham Show to let them know the facts about Newham: Labour Mayor Robin Wales is an unashamed advocate of gentrification, a supporter of sanctioning and kicking out the poor and most vulnerable. Under his rule, over 400 homes on the Carpenters Estate in Stratford remain empty and around the borough many more homes are boarded up, while homeless people whom the council has a statutory duty to house, are forced out of London.

The security staff were told to remove us as quickly as possible  to prevent us giving out information to people and to stop Robin Wales being embarrassed again. Last year, at the same event, Mayor Robin Wales himself was so physically and verbally aggressive to members of the Focus E15 campaign, that it was taken up by the Newham Standards Committee, and their investigation concluded with him being found guilty of a breach of the code of conduct.

Outrageously the council distributed their own leaflets at the Newham Show which read ‘£50m, that’s how much the council has to save next year’ and council employees were going around asking people what services should be cut. This is a council that sides with big business, banks and property speculators, while cutting social housing and continuing a policy of social cleansing.

We should remember that Newham has one of the highest rates of poverty of any London borough and, since 2012/13, it also has one of the highest levels of LOBO (Lender Option Borrower Option) loan debt in the country. Newham has  spent £563m on borrowing money which in turn  has generated  huge interest repayments: the council  owes over £40m in LOBO debt and this is likely to rise. For some reason, Newham council have refused to disclose the loan contracts when requested to under the FOI Act.

Services for the people of Newham should not be cut. Focus E15 campaign will not be silenced by aggressive security staff. We will continue to highlight the housing crisis in Newham  and side with all those in housing need.

This video shows more footage from the Mayor’s Newham Show:

Evicted for handing out leaflets at a public park during Mayors Show

Report on the Newham Mayor’s Show

Focus E15 campaigners and their supporters went to the Mayor’s Newham Show on Sunday 12 July.

We wanted to let  the Mayor of Newham, Robin Wales know that the campaign for affordable long term secure decent housing goes on and we will not sit by and watch people being evicted and sent out of London far from their communities and support networks.

Last year at the Newham show Robin Wales was verbally and physically aggressive to Focus E15 campaigners which led to an investigation by Newham Standards Committee that found the mayor guilty of a breach of code of conduct.

Unfortunately this year, the security staff were physically aggressive. They evicted Focus E15 campaigners from a public park in a brutal manner. Their heavy handed, rough treatment was totally disproportionate to the actions of the campaigners who were peacefully giving out leaflets to interested members of the public. One Focus E15 campaigner was wrestled to the ground by his throat and he and other activists were forcefully ejected from the park. Our banners and leaflets were confiscated and they even took our leaflets away from members of the public upon entrance. Yet we know that all people have a right to be informed about the housing crisis in Newham and many people at the Mayors show are affected by it. Why is the council trying to suppress leaflets about the housing crisis from the public?

Meanwhile, inside the Mayors show, council officials were busy distributing their own literature which boasted about how much money the council ‘saved’ due to 50 million pounds of cuts to our services. Let us remember that this council has spent £563m on LOBO (Lender Option Borrower Option) loans – the highest of any council in Britain – on which they continue to pay huge interest – amounting to almost 50 million pounds.

It is clear that Newham squanders money while people struggle for housing!

Once we were all evicted from the park we chanted, handed out leaflets and put up our banners outside. Our campaign is growing and reaching out to everyone. Stand with us. Say not to evictions! Repopulate the Carpenters Estate! Social housing not social cleansing!

Please take a look at this video which shows the outrageous way private security guards behaved during the Mayors  Newham show.  Facebook video.

Racist abuse in Basildon dismissed by Newham Council.

 

Focus E15 campaign met a woman on the weekly stall on 27 June. This is her  story:

I am a 23 year old single Muslim mother of a four month old daughter. I have an eviction notice for 7 July from the B&B we are in. After that day my baby daughter and I will be homeless.

During my pregnancy I was living in a hostel. I was depressed most of the time and I wasn’t eating well and I had pelvic problems which meant I wasn’t able to get out of bed or climb the stairs, and my room in the hostel was on the top floor. Once I gave birth, Newham Council placed me in a B&B, not really suitable for a young baby.

Now I face eviction because the council say that I have made myself intentionally homeless by rejecting an offer that they found to be suitable for me in Basildon, Essex.

I went to view the property in Basildon and had a terrible time while I was there with verbal racist abuse and being told to go back to the place I came from etc. They made me feel unsettled and scared, unwanted and inferior to them. I felt like I was nothing and since that day my depression and anxiety have got worse.When I told Newham Council, they said I was not physically abused, that it could have been a one off, and that this wasn’t a good enough reason to refuse as the offer was a suitable one and that I had to either take the property in Basildon or leave the B&B.

I have family and friends in Newham who help me since I gave birth. The council don’t listen and don’t care. I’m scared for my daughter. The day she was born I made a promise to myself. I made a promise to protect her and always make sure she is looked after and safe and secure, to always make sure she is warm and always smiling.

An eviction order has been sent to this young single mother and baby

Please share this story on Facebook and twitter. Tweet Newham Labour Council @newhamlondon

Details of eviction resistance on Tuesday 7 July to follow soon. Please check back