Tag Archives: occupation

Evicted by Newham Labour council after 20 years, we say Jane Come Home

Jane Come Home
Friends, family and campaigners support Jane outside her newly occupied flat

Jane is occupying her former council home as a political protest after she was evicted by Newham Labour council in March 2015. On Saturday 11th April, with full support from the Focus E15 campaign and many others, the doors of her former council flat were flung open and Jane threw a surprise house warming party. She was warmly welcomed back by her neighbours, family and friends. Jane was quick to hang up a newly made banner which states ‘Jane Come Home’ to the delight of her many well wishers and supporters who partied alongside her.

Jane has a daughter who is 14 years old. They were both evicted from their home on the 24 March 2015 after being a tenant of Newham council for 20 years. Another victim of the government’s harsh benefit sanctions, she fell into rent arrears when her Employment Support Allowance was suddenly stopped and her housing benefit cut. She was evicted because she owes the council about 5 months rent of £2,569 (this figure includes some court costs). She missed the court date due to a combination of depression, illiteracy and fear.

Help was in hand when her family offered to pay the full amount of rent owing but the council point blank refused the offer and said it was too late. On the day of the eviction Jane passed out with the stress and became another part of the tragic statistics for the amount of homeless families in Newham: almost 5,000 children are living in temporary accommodation. In the last two years alone, Newham has seen a 42 per cent increase in the amount of homeless familes, according to the  figures analysed by Labour MP Dame Tessa Jowell and released from the Department for Communities and Local Government. This injustice has to stop.People need homes. The council should start to address these shocking statistics by giving Jane and her daughter their home back.

After all, the amount or rent that is due is not much more than the monthly rent of one of the new luxury apartments that are mushrooming all over Stratford.We are asking the council to accept Jane’s family’s offer to pay the rent, clear the debt and allow Jane and her 14 year old daughter back into their home so that normal family life can resume. Jane’s daughter needs to attend her local school where she is due to sit her GCSEs.

After 50 years since Ken Loach made the film Cathy Come Home, we  are raising the issues of evictions and social cleansing in our community with the slogan Jane Come Home. Victory to Jane and all those who face the brutality of being ripped from their homes by council enforced bailiffs.

What you can do to help.

Contact Jane’s Labour MP Lyn Brown to ask her to put pressure on the council  for Jane to Come Home.

Telephone Lyn Brown: 0208 470 3463 Email: lyn@lynbrown.org.uk

Post: Lyn Brown, 306 High Street, Stratford, London, E15 1AJ

Tweet: @lynbrownmp

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

Tweet the local councillor Terry Paul @terrympaul

Come to the next street stall on Saturday April 18th, on the Broadway outside Wilkos from 12pm-2pm in Stratford and then our open campaign meeting afterwards at the Carpenters Arms pub.

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Russia Today gets in on the action

They wrote:

Protesting against the lack of affordable social housing in an East London borough, a group of 29 homeless single mothers and their children have occupied a block of flats to demand action on the city’s housing crisis.

The group, calling itself “Focus E15,” complained that an estate in Stratford was almost empty, having been cleared by the local council, while increasing numbers of local people could not afford to buy or rent a home.

The women said people were facing homelessness and displacement due to the lack of affordable and social housing in London. They called for “social housing, not social cleansing”.

For the full report click here

The Newham Recorder reports on our occupation

The local reporter, Mike Brook, wrote:

Members of the Focus E15 campaign used the occupation on Stratford’s Carpenter’s Estate next to the Olympic Park to try and shame Town Hall bosses over leaving “perfectly habitable” homes empty for years.

They accused Newham Council of shipping families from the estate out of London, leaving homes vacant in site of the Olympic Stadium.

“The estate has 2,000 empty council homes due to the decision to sell off the land to a private developer,” said Focus E15’s Jasmine Stone.

For the full article click here

A great Guardian report on our occupation & political inaction

Special thanks to Aditya Chakrabortty for this great report that got the rest of the media following in herds. He wrote:

This weekend, while commentators yawped on about local democracy, and Ed Miliband vowed he’d close the chasm between the rich and the rest of us by a whole couple of centimetres, a bunch of young women in east London just got on and did it.

They began with a Sunday afternoon fun day, the mothers laying on facepainting and some Sister Sledge. What jarred was the location: the Carpenters estate, next to the Olympic village, was long ago cleared of most of its residents as Newham council tried to flog the land.

Except the last deal fell through, leaving around 600 council homes empty. This is in a borough where more than 24,000 households are waiting for somewhere to live, and where, last winter, the shopping precinct was full of rough sleepers.

To read the full article click here

A communist report on the street party & occupation

Amidst a ‘Fun Day’, organised to celebrate the one year anniversary of the campaign, supporters of the campaign occupied four properties on the Carpenters Estate, which the local Labour council has earmarked for demolition and redevelopment.

With Newham’s Labour Mayor away at the Labour Party conference, an occasion which saw Labour Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls reassert Labour’s commitment to savage service cuts – ‘balancing the books’ -, what better time to step up the fightback against cuts, social cleansing and gentrification?

Hundreds of people were invited to tour the homes, which the campaign has set up as the E15 Social Centre – a place for the community to discuss housing, social cleansing and gentrification.

To read the full report click here

They also put this video together of the day..

A local blogger reports on street party & occupation

carpenters rd est occupation 21/9/14Glenn McMahon reported:

The party atmosphere at the community event was in stark contrast to the boarded up houses that looked down upon it. However, amid a drum roll and loud cheers a ribbon was cut to announce the opening of a four-flat block.

The campaigners said they will clean up and reuse the space to hold workshops to highlight the plight of those being left behind by the government’s ideologically driven policies including austerity and to educate one-another on how to fight back.

Jasmine, a member of the E15Focus group, said: “We wanted to make people aware that while we were being evicted from our hostel perfectly good homes have been boarded up for no good reason other than to write them off to be demolished so they can build luxury apartments.”

To read the whole of Glenn’s report click here

He also made this brief video of the day…

Public sector blogger Kate Belgrave on occupation & empty homes

“The Focus E15 mothers’ social housing campaign took the admirable step of reopening some of the long-boarded-up flats on the Carpenters’ estate. I hope news of this move has reached those Labour councillors and MPs who are all tucked up nice and warm at conference in Manchester.”

To read the full blog post click here

E15Focus mum Sam Middleton tells Kate why we occupied the flats.