The Newham Nag is a spoof magazine, put together by Focus E15 campaign and Debt Resistance UK to bring some truth to the streets of Newham and to challenge the Labour Council’s in house magazine,The Newham Mag, which unfortunately pops through people’s doors every two weeks. The latter publication is full of pictures of smiling Mayor Robin Wales telling us all what an inspiring borough Newham is, when in reality, Newham faces huge debts from LOBO loans, instigates ongoing social cleansing and has residents living in towers with cladding that has failed recent safety tests. Newham also owns many empty council homes like those on the Carpenters Estate where 410 homes are still boarded up and remaining residents there now face eviction and are worried about where they will live. The borough has a rising number of homeless people sleeping rough or living in temporary accommodation. Plenty of reasons then to Nag Newham!
At the annual Newham Mayor’s Show in July this year, Focus E15 campaign spoke to local residents and ran an open mic outside, demanding safe, secure, long term housing for all and distributed the Newham Nag for free. The campaign set up outside the show grounds because Newham council will not allow anyone to hand out their own literature inside. Our campaigners and supporters made sure everyone got a copy of the Nag as they came out.
We thought you might like this photo taken of the Mayor at ‘his’ show…
If you feel concerned about housing safety standards and the rising number of residents sleeping rough or living in inadequate accommodation then join us on the streets, 12-2pm every Saturday on The Broadway in Stratford for a public speak out and stall with open mic.
Please also join the campaign on Monday 23 July at 1pm at Bridge House in Stratford to demand Newham Labour council saves the Carpenters Estate and that it is repopulated immediately.
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:
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.
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
Newham’s housing is a health risk Newham is the most overcrowded borough in London with conditions for many residents increasingly best described as slum housing. In Olympic legacy Labour Newham, in the fifth richest country in the world, every day people face evictions, social cleansing and literally being dumped on the streets. Below are just two examples of the consequences of what can happen when you remove social housing.
Jennifer is the mother of five children and a grandmother. On Wednesday 8 June she will be at Bridge House homelessness Unit in Stratford, east London in the borough of Newham. Jennifer is about to be made homeless for the second time in nine months. She has been in temporary accommodation for 14 years, shunted from pillar to post, and in this last home, didn’t even totally unpack when she moved in nine months ago because she didn’t think it would last. She is right, a housing association put her in private rented accommodation and now the landlord says no more, possession order has come, meeting at Bridge House and all the usual emotions of fear, insecurity, shame, powerlessness. What will Jennifer tell her son who is on the autistic spectrum and is just settling in yet another home, when they have to move again, what of her son doing GCSEs and anxious about his exams. These are the issues facing her again.
Focus E15 campaign is supporting Jennifer in her request for long term stable housing in Newham. Housing Justice for Jennifer!
On Saturday 4 June, Focus E15 campaign held its monthly public meeting. The theme was Housing is a Mental Health Issue. A speaker from Psychologists Against Austerity spoke of the direct and indirect effect of poor housing and overcrowding on our physical and mental health. At the end of the meeting we met Beverley, a resident of Focus E15 building, or Brimstone House as Newham Council would like it now to be known, who is facing eviction. She has physical and mental health needs. On Tuesday 7 June, Beverley was told to leave Brimstone House. When they first placed her in Brimstone House, Newham Council said it was interim accommodation while a decision was made on whether to provide her with housing. Her dog, vital to help her maintain her health, was not allowed in the room and Beverley had to give her dog away causing her great anguish. The council assessed her as ‘homeless and eligible but not priority need’. She has now had her Housing Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) stopped. On Wednesday 8 June they will come to evict her and with no duty to house her, Beverley will be on the streets.
When Robin Wales announced in April that Newham Council had bought Focus E15 hostel, Brimstone House, from East Thames Housing Association, he said: ‘We cannot turn down this unique opportunity which makes both financial sense at the same time as helping some of our most vulnerable residents.’ So tell us Robin Wales, Labour Mayor of Newham, how throwing vulnerable people out onto the streets with their belongings is helpful?
On Thursday 16 June, at the Municipal Journal Local Authority Awards, Newham Labour Council is up for an award for the best trading standards and environmental health and has been nominated in the best environmental health category. What a slap in the face for the Newham residents who know the reality.
Expose the shameful actions of this Labour council. No one should be indefinitely in temporary accommodation! No one should be out on the streets!
Repopulate the Carpenters Estate where over 400 homes in Stratford lie empty.
Join Focus E15 campaign weekly stall every Saturday12-2pm, on The Broadway, E15 outside Wilko’s.
Join the protest at the Municipal Journal Local Authority Awards where both Newham and Lambeth are due to receive awards: Thursday 16 June 6.30pm Hilton Hotel London W1K 1BE
Researcher Paul Watt from Birbeck University has published a new paper in the journal CITY about Focus E15 campaign – just ahead of a one day conference in London which takes place later on this month and where the journal will be launched. CITY is a ‘special feature’ journal focussing on London’s housing crisis (see below for details).
The paper about the campaign is called ‘A nomadic war machine in the metropolis‘. In it, Paul Watt applies philosophical conceits (a ‘deleuzoguattarian framework’) to ask the question – what kind of campaign is Focus E15? He also provides a very engaging over view of the campaign to date with interviews from the campaigners themselves.
For anyone looking to familiarise themselves with the work of the campaign so far, this paper, although very academic in places, deserves to be read widely and will be of particular interest to social geographers. In fact the campaigners who have read the paper so far recommend it! It can be downloaded for free here: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/qfA79PThehB5dEmbB8iz/full
We would like to thank Paul Watt for his regular support during the last two years of campaigning.
All the details about the conference mentioned above now follow. Remember to book your tickets if you would like to go:
LONDON’S HOUSING CRISIS AND ITS ACTIVISMS. Saturday 23 April, hosted by University of East London and Birkbeck University.
This one day conference launches a forthcoming CITY Special Feature on ‘London’s Housing Crisis and its Activisms’, co-edited by Paul Watt (Birkbeck) and Anna Minton (UEL).
Speakers at the conference include contributors to the Special Feature, alongside Aditya Chakrabortty, Senior Economics Commentator at The Guardian, and Sian Berry, Green Party Mayoral candidate. Dawn Foster, Michael Edwards, Stuart Hodkinson, Focus E15, Save Cressingham, Architects for Social Housing, 35% Campaign, Radical Housing Network and many more. For full programme visit: http://bit.ly/1MBFf3V
The conference is also a way of celebrating the 20th anniversary of CITY, a journal which has consistently been at the forefront of radical urban scholarship under the editorship of Bob Catterall.
Registration is essential. For full programme and to reserve your place please visit: http://bit.ly/1MBFf3V
Ticket cost (payable on the day):
Waged – £5
Student – £3
Unwaged – Free
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
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. http://www.katebelgrave.com/2016/02/the-one-where-the-council-officer-hangs-up-the-phone-on-a-homeless-woman/
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.
Charlie is 20 years old and has been homeless for over 2 years and he has now been street homeless for 7 months. He is originally from Southend and became homeless after his mother told him to leave the family house and not come back.
Charlie has been sleeping in the doorway of Bridge House housing office in Stratford, as this is where he felt most safe at night. After a few weeks of seeing Charlie sleeping rough, the security guard brought someone from the housing office to see him. This housing officer told Charlie there was nothing that could be done to help him because he is not ‘priority need’ which was the same line he was fed in Southend. Bear in mind that Southend council spent millions on the new pier and Newham council have left 3 tower blocks on the Carpenters Estate virtually empty for several years.
However, a week later Charlie received good news: he was told by a housing officer at Bridge House that in fact they may be able to find him somewhere to live after all. They took his phone number and said they would be in touch. He immediately got his hopes up.
That was over 6 weeks ago now and Charlie has heard nothing since. He still remains on the streets of Newham and is just one of the growing number of rough sleepers in London: last year 7,000 people slept rough in London.
Focus E15 campaign met Charlie on our weekly street stall when he came to sign our petition and buy a social housing badge. It is unacceptable that a young man like Charlie remains vulnerable on the streets whilst at the same time thousands and thousands of homes in the capital lie empty.
“Homelessness is a devastating experience with significant impacts for an individual’s health and wellbeing. Mental and physical health problems can be caused or exacerbated by rough sleeping. Homelessness is also dangerous, with homeless people 13 times more likely to be a victim of crime than the general public. Shockingly, the average age of death for a homeless person is just 47 – 30 years younger than the national average.” St Mungo’s
Newham council must make sure our young people are safe and can move forward with their lives.
House Charlie now and stop making people homeless! Social Housing not Social Cleansing!