On September 21st 2014, the Focus E15 campaign celebrated our first birthday by occupying a disused block of flats on the nearly empty Carpenters Estate in Stratford, East London. Most of the residents of the estate have been decanted by Newham Council, who intend to sell the land to a private developer, leaving around 600 housing units empty.
This action drew attention to the fact that people are being forced out of London due to a lack of affordable housing while huge numbers of perfectly good social housing units sit empty. For a period of two weeks, the occupied flats were opened to the public and run as a social centre with an evolving programme of daily events, including workshops, meetings, and music and comedy gigs.
Newham Council took the campaign to court in an attempt to evict the occupation. However, against a backdrop of overwhelming public support for the campaign, the council eventually agreed to let the occupation continue for the full two weeks as originally planned.
Focus E15 left the Open House of our own accord on Monday 6th October, having successfully generated a huge amount of local, national and international support for the campaign.
Although the occupation has now concluded, our demands to the Council continue to be:
• Repopulate the Carpenters Estate with secure long term council tenancies now
• An immediate end to the decanting and evictions of existing residents
• No demolition of the estate
• The management of Carpenters Estate by the residents, for the residents, no third party or private management
We will continue to fight displacement and evictions and to campaign for secure, council housing through direct action, mobilisation and legal means.
The council has promised to house 40 people on a temporary basis on the estate. We are watching the council closely to see if they uphold this promise. On Monday 20th October 2014, we met one of 6 residents who had moved into the estate that day. We claim this as a victory for our campaign. How dare Newham labour council leave the Carpenter’s Estate empty in the middle of a harsh and severe housing crisis.