Eleanor Margolies slams council inaction on Camberwell house
A four-bedroom house in Camberwell has been left unoccupied for 20 years.
Local resident Eleanor Margolies said, "In 2002, I contacted Southwark Council about this house. I was told that the council was “in negotiations” with the owner. It's a scandal that the house is still empty and rotting away 15 years later. This is a shocking waste when so many in Southwark are in need of a home."
Local councils can make a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) of unoccupied buildings. Or they can use an Empty Dwelling Management Order — they have to pay to refurbish the building but keep the rental income afterwards.Read more
Keep the community together, say local campaigners and Green Party
Aylesbury residents have been fighting plans from Labour-run Southwark Council to demolish their homes. The second public inquiry is due to complete in April. Across the Aylesbury, 2,700 council homes are to be destroyed. None will be built in their place. Previous experience of the Heygate demolition suggests council tenants will be rehoused in scattered locations across Southwark, losing their communities while rents may increase.
Aylesbury Estate homeowners are being hit with Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) which will force them out with payoffs much too low to buy any other property in the area or even in London. The UK Government previously recognised that Southwark’s plans breach the homeowners’ human rights.Read more
Estate demolition: it’s not a good deal, it’s not a done deal
Southwark Greens are taking a keen interest in the Aylesbury estate inquiry which opened today (Tuesday 9 January). The inquiry will hear evidence about whether Southwark Council should be allowed to make compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) for flats on the Aylesbury Estate, ‘for the purpose of redevelopment and regeneration’. The Inspector will report back to the Secretary of State - Sajid Javid of the recently renamed Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.Read more
The Grenfell Tower disaster left the whole nation in shock, but the similarities to Southwark’s own tragic fire in 2009 at Lakanal House, Camberwell, where six died, were startling.
Green activist John Tyson and Green London Assembly member Sian Berry presented a petition with over 100,000 signatures to the Home Office calling on the Government to implement recommendations from the Lakanal inquest. Proposals such as retro-fitting sprinklers, made by the coroner in a letter sent to government ministers in 2013, were largely ignored.
The Council’s response to fire safety has been heavy handed, and caused distress to some residents. Some have raised concerns that the zero tolerance to all outside furniture is too reminiscent of what came in after Lakanal. What about reviews of compartment breaches?
John says, ‘A key lesson from Grenfell was that we need to listen to people. Residents raised concerns that weren’t heard. Our response needs to be to find fire safety measures that are practical, ensure safety, but recognise individual needs.’
As Greens we believe our homes are a fundamental basic right. Whether you own or rent, you want to know you and your loved ones have somewhere to live. And there’s no more important time than over winter.
Green activist John Tyson worked throughout the summer with the Ledbury Action Group to get the Council to commit to rehousing residents and safeguarding their estate, in Peckham. Successive councils had ignored residents’ concerns over building safety, and an engineers’ report finally commissioned this year found that the four blocks were at risk of collapse from a gas explosion.Read more
Why are council estates in London being demolished at a time of housing crisis, replaced by luxury flats that most Londoners cannot afford to live in? This question is central to the work of writer Anna Minton.
Anna, whom we were delighted to welcome as guest speaker at our AGM on 9 November, is reader in architecture at the University of East London and the author of the acclaimed study Big Capital: Who Is London For?, published this year by Penguin. Speaking to an audience of Green Party members and supporters at Camberwell Library, Anna gave a powerful presentation, looking at the impact of the huge sums of money from overseas that have washed up in our city since the financial crisis. For these foreign investors, property is the commodity asset of choice, and London is, in effect, their tax haven.Read more
The terrible loss of life in the Grenfell Tower disaster was something many people thought could never happen in Britain. But Grenfell was not an isolated tragedy. In 2009, six people died in a fire at Lakanal House in Camberwell, which highlighted issues that could have prevented Grenfell.
John Tyson, the Green Party’s parliamentary candidate for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, has drawn up a petition calling for the immediate implementation of the 2013 report on the Lakanal fire. The petition now has more than 80,000 signatures – you can sign it here.
Council's plans continue to push out poorest
London Assembly estimates predict Southwark will lose 2,051 social rented homes as a result of current property schemes, and that across London 80% of building will only be affordable by 8% of the population. Southwark is in the bottom 3 boroughs for affordable housing.
So rather than creating a “fairer” Southwark, both current and previous councils have delivered a deal that is pushing our communities to the breaking point.
As Southwark Green Party, our candidates would call for:
- Residents to be balloted on proposed demolition
- Refurbishment over demolition (where it doesn’t put residents at risk)
- Improved resident consultations, taking into account local needs
- Supporting local community groups wishing to manage community assets
- Supporting community land trusts wishing to build homes
- Enforcing agreed social and affordable commitments by developers
Challenging Southwark Council's repairs service
Ever needed a repair from the council? How long did you have to wait? Was it done to a decent standard?
Following our own walkabout, we reported 11 communal repairs on the Rockingham Estate in one day. We believe our council, and their contractors, are failing to keep our homes safe and secure.
Chaucer Green candidate, John Tyson, says, “As a resident of 6 years on the Rockingham, I know first hand the terrible repairs service we have: weeks and months to get repairs done, poor quality, lack of follow up. As councillor, I’d ensure there was a thorough review, particularly focused on finding failing contractors, and reducing wait times.”
John wrote the petition with the Southwark Group of Tenants Organisations that kept the telephone repair line free to call.
John Tyson, the Green Party candidate for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, says: "The demolition of the Heygate Estate is the worst example of a council pushing out tenants and destroying communities, allowing absentee investors to benefit at the
expense of renters. We need better housing solutions."
The Green Party would:
• abolish the cruel Bedroom Tax,
• set up a Renters Union,
• refurbish, insulate and improve homes instead of demolishing,
• work with communities to find solutions that work for them.