Below is a video and transcript of the powerful statement read by Anthony Comber-Badu on behalf of the Aylesbury Leaseholder Action Group.
Southwark Green Party stand fully behind these words and alongside everyone fighting for fair treatment by the council.
Video credit to Southwark Council
"As leaseholders and residents of the Aylesbury estate, and we are making this public statement because Southwark Council, the developers Notting Hill Housing Association, central government and those profiting from the housing crisis would prefer that we didn’t."
"For too long, my family and thousands like us have suffered the silent oppression of state endorsed social cleansing. Southwark council has a history of violent social cleansing and it is yet to answer for the brutal displacement of residents on the former Heygate Estate. This oppression happens invisibly, via cabinet meetings, in council offices and coded into email chains that never see the light of day. The oppression is drawn out over years and the uncertainty eats away at the mental health and stability of its victims until they can take it no longer and cave.
Let me state this. We will not cave. My family, our friends and neighbours and fellow activists will not cave. Southwark council has made a fatal error in judgement by deciding to abuse the rights of Judi, Mary & Felix, Grace & Solomon, Deji & Grace and all the others.
My parents have paid for their education in this country, they have worked tirelessly and they have paid their fair share of taxes. They started their own businesses and rain or shine they paid yet more taxes. They saved what they could and chose a well located home of their own, surrounded by their community. They raised respectful, educated, law abiding families in these homes. While the council is happy to collect years of council tax and service charges and major works fees from these families, they are deaf to their cries for justice when deciding to dispossess them of these homes.
At this cabinet meeting you will be asked to approve the Compulsory Purchase order for three properties on Northchurch 57-76. You are also asked to approve two land allocations, one for Plot 18 and one for FDS plot 1b/1c, to enable construction to begin unhindered by complaints by neighbours.
We strongly believe that both requests should be denied, as the regeneration has no legitimacy in our eyes, for the reasons stated above and for the further following reasons:
- the outcome for the CPO FDS 1b/1c is not known yet. If the Secretary of State decides not to grant the CPO, this will influence the progressions of the entire redevelopment programme.
- the land Northchurch 57-76 sits on is not needed for the development of plot 18
- property valuations on the estate are still disputed so no CPO should proceed until there is a resolution
- the construction of the planned homes and facilities on PLOT 18 will create serious Daylight and Sunlight limitations to Taplow and Wendover (as stated on the Plot 18 planning application paragraphs 111-119, 16/AP/2800). This is considered acceptable by you because Taplow and Wendover are earmarked for demolition. However, neither site has planning application yet; given the lengthy delays to the whole scheme, it is likely that the residents of the two buildings will be severely deprived of sunlight and daylight for years to come.
We also note that in relation to the relocation of the Approved Premises Facility in Ellison House, the Aylesbury Area Action Plan does not contain the relocation of Ellison House within it, not does the September 2014 Masterplan for the Aylesbury Estate.
We continue to demand the refurbishment rather than demolition of the estate, including the remaining Chartridge block, Northchurch, Wendover, Taplow and the rest, to save the existing diverse community and to say no to social cleansing.
If Southwark disagrees with the labelling of this regeneration as social and ethnic cleansing, then they have to decisively respond to the charge. In 2016, the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government Sajid Javid levelled very serious charges against Southwark council, citing a disproportionate impact on black and minority ethnic groups who will be forced out despite making up 67% of the estate. Southwark has yet to address these concerns and until it does, there are serious question marks over the council’s attitude towards dealing with its BAME communities, question marks that they will have to answer at the ballot box.
Issue the CPO if you must, but from the moment you do, we will be calling on a host of figures to hold you to account. In Labour's election manifesto, they promised a New Deal for housing and a new Department for Housing to tackle the housing crisis. Last week the Haringey Development Vehicle was shelved after concerted effort from numerous objectors including newly elected Labour councillors and a Labour MP. Why are Southwark’s Labour councillors continuing to persecute their voters in the light of that pressure and with their track record from the Heygate estate demolition?
Southwark turned off the hot water in our estate last week. Again. “urgent repairs” cites the letter. The hot water disruption was supposed to last for 48hrs, but I had a cold shower again this morning… Everyone knows that when you have a cold shower, you emerge feeling refreshed. So, thank you Southwark council for the refreshing start to our day. We’re wide awake, ready and we’re going to take you down."
An extended video, with councillor questions and further remarks from ALAG is below:
WHAT IS ALAG?
Aylesbury Leaseholders Action Group is a self-organised organisation of Aylesbury Estate leaseholders who are campaigning to push Southwark Council to:
- Refurbish rather than demolish the estate, to save the existing diverse community and to say no to social cleansing.
- Offer "like for like" homes to leaseholders whose home are being demolished. ALAG understands "like for like" as being able to stay within SE17 in a home of the same square meterage.
- Maintain services and maintenance on the estate and not operate a policy of 'managed decline'.