Posts Tagged ‘estate demolition’

Housing Act, Student rents & Open Gardens – 2016

Tuesday, June 18th, 2024

Housing Act, Student rents & Open Gardens: On Saturday 18th June 2016 I went to three events all with a connection with housing. First was a protest against the 2016 Housing and Planning Act passed the previous month, after which I briefly visited students celebrating a victory at UCL before going to South London for an Open Gardens event at an estate which Lambeth Council want to demolish.

Axe the Housing Act March – Hyde Park Corner

Housing Act, Student rents & Open Gardens

Protesters marched from Hyde Park Corner to Parliament against the Housing and Planning Act which tenant and housing groups, councils, academics, trade unions and communities say will deepen the current housing crisis, removing security from many tenants and will result in the demolition and selling off of almost all social housing.

Housing Act, Student rents & Open Gardens

The Act extends the ‘Right to Buy’ to housing association tenants and allows councils to sell vacant ‘higher value’ vacant council homes to fund this.

Housing Act, Student rents & Open Gardens

It brings in mandatory rent increases for households in social housing with a combined family income of ore than £40,000 in London and £31,000 elsewhere with their rents increasing over time to market rents. Amendments made this slightly fairer by limiting the income considered to the taxable income of two main household earners and excluding most of those receiving benefits from the calculations.

Housing Act, Student rents & Open Gardens

The Act removes security of tenure for most council tenants. New tenants will only get fixed term tenancies generally from 2-5 years, with some longer tenancies agreed for those with a disability or children living at home until they reach the age of 19 following pressure from the House of Lords.

The Act reflects and emphasises the Tory view that social housing should be a very limited resource only supporting the the very poorest in society, second-class citizens, with the landlords and house builders being able to make profits from the rest of us. But housing campaigners generally see it as by far the most cost-effective way to provide for one of our basic human needs and also argue that it can provide an income for local councils to support other vital services.

The protesters urged councils to refuse to implement the Act and call on people to stand together to boycott the pay-to-stay tax, resist evictions and block regeneration and estate demolitions.

Among the speakers before the march began was Richard Livingstone, a councillor from the London Borough of Southwark, Cabinet Member for Adult Care and Financial Inclusion and formerly responsible for housing in the borough.

Southwark is a borough with an appalling record on housing and estate demolition and many at the protest were appalled at his presence calling Southwark’s demolition of the Heygate and Aylesbury a shameful example of exactly the kind of social cleansing this protest was against.

Many feel that many Labour councillors and officers are now careerists, driven by political or financial advancement rather than caring for the people in their borough. A number have earned themselves highly paid jobs with developers and other companies in the housing sector.

I left as the march moved off towards Parliament and made my way to UCL.

More at Axe the Housing Act March.

UCL Rent Strike Victory

It was good for once to be able to celebrate a victory, after after the Complaints Panel at UCL decided that the residents of Campbell House West will be compensated in full for the final term last year – up to £1,368 per student.

They determined that UCL Management “Not only demonstrated a lack of empathy towards students’ circumstances and an understanding or appreciation of what would be an acceptable student experience, but was disingenuous to the students concerned.”

So the mass protest that had been planned, an Open Day Manifestation, turned into a celebration of their victory, and also to show their determination to continue their campaign to cut student rents.

I left after a brief visit, missing the lively victory march around the West End with flares and the helium-filled balloons I had watched them preparing.

UCL Rent Strike Victory

Central Hill Open Gardens Estates – Upper Norwood

Lambeth’s Central Hill Estate is a popular and well-planned estate of considerable architectural interest in good condition under threat of demolition by Lambeth Council. Like some other estates it has been refused listing probably on political grounds. The properties, completed in 1974, were well built and are generally in good condition though suffering like most council estates from a lack of proper maintenance and in need of relatively minor refurbishment.

This was one of the estates under threat of demolition by Government Housing policies, council regeneration programmes and property developers which were welcoming visitors to open day events as a part of the Open Garden Estates initiative by Architects for Social Housing, ASH.

There was a display of the alternative plans for the estate by ASH showing how the council’s aims of increasing the capacity of the estate could be achieved without any demolition and at a much lower financial and environmental cost.

Lambeth Council had refused to make any serious consideration of these plans, almost certainly because although the cost would be much less, they would not provide the profits to the developers from the high market value sales of new properties and market rents, and the costs of the ASH scheme to the council would be greater.

One of the visitors to the open day was Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood Helen Hayes, who stormed out after being questioned why she was attending when she had given her backing to Labour councillors behind the plans to demolish the estate.

Also at the open day were various food, book and other stalls, a music performance, film show (I watched a film about how Southwark Counci had mistreated the residents of Myatts Fields) and a Marxist puppet show as well as estate tours. I’d visited the estate several times in the past and had photographed parts of it in the 1990s as well as more recently in February 2016 when I wrote more about it and Lambeth’s plans to demolish.

Although New Labour’s ‘Regeneration’ policy possibly had good intentions, its results have often been disastrous, and Labour really needs to rethink its whole approach to council-owned housing.

As I wrote in 2016: “‘Regeneration’ has resulted in huge transfers of public assets into private hands, in a wholesale loss of social housing, and in social cleansing, with people being forced outwards from London, unable to afford either the laughably named ‘affordable’ properties or those at market rates. It has meant the dispersal of functioning communities, in widespread and arguably fraudulent under-compensation of leaseholders, and in a great deal of sub-standard buildings, often to lower specifications of space and worse design than those they replace.

More people were arriving at the event when I left to go home and I was sorry to have to miss some of the activities planned for later in the day.

The estate is still standing and the fight to save it continues. In March 2024 Lambeth Council set up a contract with consultants to reappraise the plans for estate ‘regeneration’ at Cressingham Gardens, Central Hill and Fenwick. Perhaps it will come up with some more sensible proposals …

More at Central Hill Open Gardens Estates.

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Walking the Rip-Off – Heygate & Aylesbury – 2012

Monday, April 29th, 2024

Walking the Rip-Off – Heygate & Aylesbury – On Sunday 29th April 2012 I joined around 35 others for ‘Walking the Rip-Off’ organised by Southwark Notes Archive Group and Aylesbury Tenants First (and here) which started in the “community gardening projects of Heygate” and went on “to the Aylesbury for a look and learn around the massive site.”

Walking the Rip-Off - Heygate & Aylesbury

It was an interesting and illuminating experience. There were around 35 people altogether despite the rain and a terrible weather forecast, and fortunately it slackened off and the sun actually came out.

Walking the Rip-Off - Heygate & Aylesbury

The Heygate Estate has now completely gone, demolished in 2014. There has been a loss of over a thousand council tenancies in the area, and only around 25 of those tenants displaced from the Heygate are thought to have been rehoused in the area . The well-designed and largely solidly built estate which probably had at least another 50 years of life with proper maintenance and necessary refurbishment has been replaced by lower quality buildings with many flats owned by overseas investors which are unlikely to last as long.

Walking the Rip-Off - Heygate & Aylesbury

As Southwark Notes reported in 2015, developers Lend Lease were marketing its replacement, Elephant Park “overseas for wealthy off-plan buyers looking for second homes, investments, buy-to-lets, homes for their student sons and daughters etc.

Walking the Rip-Off - Heygate & Aylesbury

The individual properties in the new estate are smaller – some best described as poky – and rented properties are several times more expensive. In 2021 the social rent on a new housing development in nearby Bermondsey was advertised at £295.50, which was £130 above the government’s social rent cap of £164.87 for a two-bed property. Many of those who lived on the Heygate have been forced to move to outer areas of London or further afield to find housing they can afford. It has been social cleansing on a large scale.

Walking the Rip-Off - Heygate & Aylesbury
Housing left empty for several years had by 2012 suffered considerable vandalism

Particularly badly affected were leaseholders who were forced to move and given payments that were derisory and a fraction of that needed to buy comparable properties in the area. You can find more details online on Southwark Notes.

There is find more information on the regeneration of the Elephant & Castle area on the 35% Campaign web site. This also has up to date information on other aspects of Southwark Council’s failures including the redevelopment of the Aylesbury estate, the disastrous redevelopment of the Elephant & Castle shopping centre and other scandals in the area.

The site took its name from Southwark Council’s minimum policy requirement of 35% affordable housing, 70% of which social rent which it has failed to meet on Heygate and numerous subsequent developments.

On the tour in 2012 we were able to visit several properties on the Heygate and Aylesbury estates, and I was very impressed by the quality of the accommodation and the obvious love and care the residents had taken in making them really personal homes. I was allowed to photograph inside some of them but did not put any of the pictures on line in 2012, and can no longer find them.

From the 10th floor of Chiltern, Aylesbury Estate

I returned to one of those flats a year ago for the Fight4Aylesbury exhibition which was held there. Later in the year Aysen Dennis in whose flat this was held agreed to be relocated to a new nearby council block, but she continues her fight to save what remains of the estate. This January she acheived a significant victory when the High Court overturned the planning decision for Phase 2B of the Aylesbury Estate demolition. It is now not clear how the remaining demolition of the estate will proceed.

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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall.
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Streets Kitchen March with Homeless – 2016

Saturday, April 15th, 2023

Streets Kitchen is a UK & Ireland grassroots group working to help the homeless community, providing daily outreaches with food, clothing and information. In London they are active in Camden, Hackney, Kilburn, Clapham, Haringey and elsewhere – and new volunteers and donations are welcome. You can see a short video about their work made by Liberty on YouTube.

Streets Kitchen March with Homeless

On Friday 15th April 2016 Streets Kitchen oranised a rally and march around central London in solidarity with London’s growing homeless community. A giant banner called for ‘No More Deaths On Our Streets’. They brought tents, sleeping bags and food intending to join the Kill the Housing Bill sleepout in Southwark and collected donations.

Streets Kitchen March with Homeless

I met them at a rally on the pavement opposite Downing Street, with speakers who described the effects of government policies on increasing homelessness but also pointed out the role of London Labour Councils including Southwark and Newham who have turned people out of council estates in order to ‘regenerate’ them largely for the benefit of private tenants paying much higher rents, as well working with private developers to enable them to evade their responsibilities to build social housing.

Streets Kitchen March with Homeless

They move on to Whitehall, blocking the traffic and then marching to Trafalgar Square where they held a brief protest before marching up Charing Cross Road to Oxford Street.

Streets Kitchen March with Homeless

The march continued along Oxford St to Oxford Circus, where they set off flares and blocked the junction for a few minutes.

Streets Kitchen March with Homeless

Their next stop was at the BBC, where a line of police blocked the entrance, and they then moved off up Portland Place. They were still marching further away from the final destination, Southwark Council’s offices on Tooley St, south of the river close to Tower Bridge, and it was getting rather dark to take pictures.

Streets Kitchen March with Homeless

I decided I’d had enough and left them for my journey to a warm and comfortable home. We don’t live in luxury but too many in our society don’t have a home to go to, a shameful situation in one of the richest countries in the world – and a country where there are more empty homes than homeless people. Housing is a human right, and one which too many are denied.

Streets Kitchen March with Homeless

More at Streets Kitchen March with Homeless.

Canada Water, Southwark Homes & Cody Dock

Saturday, March 25th, 2023

Canada Water, Southwark Homes & Cody Dock: Events and pictures from Saturday 25th March 2017

Canada Water, Southwark.

Canada Water, Southwark Homes & Cody Dock

The Surrey Commercial Docks were the largest area of London’s Docklands and the only large docks on the south bank of the River Thames, built on a large marshy area at Rotherhithe, a little closer to London than the Royal Navy dockyard at Deptford.

Canada Water, Southwark Homes & Cody Dock

The first dock here was dug out in 1696 and was the largest dock of that age, and could take 120 sailing ships. Later the dock became Greenland Dock, a base for the Arctic whaling trade, but in the 19th century there was a huge increase in trade with Scandanavia and the Baltic, and other docks were dug, as well as huge timber ponds which soon became its major trade.

Canada Water, Southwark Homes & Cody Dock
Deal Porters sculpture by Philip Bews

Surrey Docks was in full swing the in the Victorian age, with nine docks, six timber ponds and the Grand Surrey Canal. Badly damaged by bombing in the Second World War, the docks never fully recovered and were then hit by containerisation. The docks were too small to handle container ships and closed in 1970. Most of the docks were filled in and the whole area was redeveloped.

Canada Water, Southwark Homes & Cody Dock

By the time the London Docklands Development Corporation was set up by the Tories in 1980 the redevelopment initially led by Southwark Council was well under way and the area was set to have a rather different character from the redevelopments on the north bank.

But the LDDC appeared as the principal objector, to the council’s statutory development plan and was backed by the Department of the Environment. Southwarks plan for the whole of the south riverside from London Bridge to Deptford was rejected for showing ‘unrealistic commitment to public housing‘ and for its ‘opposition to office and other private development’. The LDDC went ahead with selling land and buildings for speculative development.

The LDDC rubbed its hands in glee at the thought of selling riverside sites which Southwark had planned for low cost rented housing to developers of large blocks of luxury flats, and rushed to clear aging council estates and replace them with privately owned properties, policies which were strongly opposed by Southwark Council.

But times have changed, and I had come to Canada Water for a march where local people had come to protest against very similar policies by Southwark’s Labour council, working for and with developers to demolish estates such as the Heygate and Aylesbury, with the replacements including only a very small percentage of social housing. I’d arrived early on purpose to give me time for a short walk around before the protest began.

More at Canada Water.

Southwark march for homes & businesses

Southwark campaigners marched from Canada Water to protest at Thurlow Lodge Community Hall on the Aylesbury Estate, calling on Labour-run Southwark Council to save homes and jobs in the borough.

Marchers and speakers at the rally before the march included those from tenants and residents organisations, local business networks and others. They had come to oppose Southwark Council demolishing council estates for luxury home building, selling off public land to private developers and profit-oriented housing associations and forcing out small businesses through policies they say are solely concerned with realising asset values and trample on the rights and needs of local residents.

On My London Diary there is a long list of some of the groups involved, but there were others too.

One of the bigger battles, still continuing, is over the future of the Aylesbury Estate in Walworth, just south of the Heygate Estate at the Elephant and Castle, where the council lost a great deal of public money in providing a huge site with great transport links to allow a private developer to make huge profits, losing around 2000 social rent homes. Many of the new flats are empty boxes, investments for wealthy foreigner profiting from rapid increases in London property prices.

Piers Corbyn with others sitting down on Albany Road at the end of the march

Much of the Aylesbury estate has now been emptied, and some demolished. The council was found to have acted acting unfairly towards leaseholders who were being offered derisory compensation – usually less than half the market value of comparable properties in the area. Those who took the court case got improved offers, but there is little evidence of it changing its ways and trying to cheat others. Among those involved in fighting to save the Aylesbury on this march was Piers Corbyn, Jeremy’s older brother, in the news more recently over arguably less worthwhile causes, particularly in opposition to Covid restrictions.

The Aylesbury Estate had been at the centre of the Labour Party’s plans for the regeneration of council estates, the site of Tony Blair’s first big press event. But Labour’s policy was more about grabbing headlines than providing the good low-cost housing that a proper social housing policy requires. Councils such as Southwark have used it to demonise and run-down their large estates, spending large sums with PR companies to do so and working with major developers, rather than properly consulting with residents and putting the necessary cash into estate maintenance, running them down on purpose.

It was a long march to the Aylesbury Estate, detouring to pass several housing estates and business areas threatened by the council, and a tiring one on a warm and sunny March Day, and we were all tired by the time it ended outside Thurlow Lodge Community Hall. This had been saved earlier this year by a community occupation after Southwark Council had wanted to evict the occupants, Divine Rescue, a body with a soup kitchen offering support, training and meals to around a hundred homeless people, and runs a a food bank. Southwark wanted to sell or let the community hall to make more money.

The march organisers had planned to end the march here with Divine Rescue providing hot drinks and toilet facilities after the long walk, but Southwark Council had warned Divined Rescue that there lease would again be threatened if they had anything to do with the protest, forcing them to withdraw their offer. The hall was locked and shuttered, guarded by Southwark Council security when we arrived. It seemed a very petty piece of bullying by the council.

The protesters sat down on Albany Road blocking traffic for around 10 minutes in protest at this, then moved to the area in front of the community hall for a final rally.

Many more pictures from the march and the rallies before and afterwards on My London Diary at Southwark march for homes & businesses.

More From Cody Dock

From the Aylesbury Estate I made my way to Cody Dock for the opening of my show there, ‘All Along the Lea‘, black and white photographs from the 1980s and 90s, arriving an hour or two early.

This gave me time to take a few more pictures, but also to have some food and a beer and listen to some live music and just to enjoy being there.

It was a pleasant opening with a decent crowd, with plenty of people coming to look at the pictures and talk, including the local MP. As I said and wrote, “When I took these pictures many people wondered why I was wasting time and film on such scenes, so I’m really pleased to have them appreciated now. “

I hadn’t chosen the title for the show, and it wasn’t accurate fro the pictures that were on the wall, almost all from Bow Creek. But I had photographed ‘All Along the Lea’ and my web site and the book ‘Before the Olympics‘ have pictures from the source at Leagrave to the outlets into the Thames both at Bow Creek, and, via the Limehouse Cut, at Limehouse Dock.

University Protests – Carpenters Estate & Outsourcing

Monday, November 28th, 2022

Ten years ago today, on Wednesday 28th November 2012, I photographed two protests at London University. The first at UCL against their plans for a new campus in Stratford and the second by outsourced workers at the University demanding decent conditions of employment.

Save Carpenters Estate from UCL – University College. Wednesday 28th November 2012

University Protests - Carpenters Estate & Outsourcing
Joe from CARP talks to one of those attending the UCL council meeting

University College was founded in 1826 as London University, a secular alternative to the highly religious ancient institutions at Oxford and Cambridge. It bought an 8 acre area of waste land in Bloomsbury, just south of the Euston Road, and developed its elegant buildings around a large quadrangle. Although started in 1827, these were only finally completed in 1955.

University Protests - Carpenters Estate & Outsourcing

What had seemed a very large site when they started now with many more students seems very restrictive, and in October 2012 UCL announced it had come to an agreement with Newham Council to take over the entire site of the Carpenters Estate close to the centre of Stratford, displacing all of the residents remaining in this popular council estate.

University Protests - Carpenters Estate & Outsourcing

Newham Council, under its elected Mayor Robin Wales had long been hoping to realise a huge amount of cash by selling off the Carpenters Estate, a now extremely valuable area particularly because of its location close to Stratford Station and had been emptying out properties since around 2004 to facilitate this. UCL’s £1 billion proposal was exactly the kind of deal they had in mind, and it was quickly approved.

University Protests - Carpenters Estate & Outsourcing

Residents remaining on the estate had for some years been fighting to remain in their homes forming CARP (Carpenters Against Regeneration Plan) to oppose the emptying and estate demolition under so-called ‘regeneration’. Newham’s reaction was to used underhand means to remove many of the activists from the tenant’s management organisation, but most most of the remaining members were now opposed to the UCL scheme.

Also expressing concern about the proposal were UCL’s own highly-regarded development planning unit, who issued a statement calling for a review of the proposals which should “include a clear commitment to the well-being of local and East London borough residents, the active participation of affected communities, as well as engagement with local government” of a scheme which had only emerged from private talks between Newham Council and UCL.

The protest at UCL began in the Main Quad with around a hundred people, including leading members of CARP and students and staff of UCL. After a few short speeches, the protesters moved to picket the main entrance to the building where the UCL council meeting had been rescheduled. They were then able to talk with some of the council members as they went in to the meeting, and one of these assured the protesters that the plans were not fully developed and there would be consultation with the residents before any development took place.

More protesters arrived, including members of Unison and the UCU who were picketing the meeting about proposals to change academic contracts which they say threaten academic freedom. The protesters then heard that the council meeting had been moved, and they decided to try to go closer to the new venue, moving into the university building. I walked with them, going past the dressed skeleton of Jeremy Bentham to a meeting room where they decided to hold an alternative council meeting. I left to go to another event, but some of the protesters kept up an ocupation of part of UCL for most of the day.

Save Carpenters Estate from UCL

3 Cosas – Sick Pay, Holidays and Pensions – Senate House, University of London.
Wednesday 28th November 2012

UCL and the University of London both received charters officially establishing them on 28th November 1836, and so today UoL was celebrating its Founder’s Day with an evening event inside Senate House. Cleaners and other low paid outsourced workers at the University of London protested outside the celebrations, calling for an end to unfair conditions and for equal employment rights — the ‘3 Cosas’ of Sick pay, Holiday Pay and Pensions.

UoL outsources its cleaning, maintenance, security, and catering services to private companies who cut their costs to make profits by paying low wages, with the legal minimums of sick pay, pathetic or no pension schemes, major pay problems, and lots of intimidation and bullying. They work under conditions no reputable employer would consider imposing – and much worse than similar grades of workers directly employed by the University alongside them in the same buildings.

The services these workers provide are essential in keeping the University running, but they are treated unfairly. Protests over several years led by Unison have led to the university finally agreeing that all those working on the site should be paid the London Living Wage. Many of the outsourced staff are Spanish speakers, some migrants granted asylum or right to remain and others EU citizens, often with qualifications not recognised in the UK. Their ‘3 Cosas’ campaign was led by Unison branches and the cleaners’ union, the IWGB, and supported by students and academics.

Over 50 protesters, some with drums and many with banners and flags protested outside the main gates to Senate House, handing out leaflets to those attending the Founders Day event. Many took these, while others angrily brushed them aside.

One student president who had an invitation to the event stopped to address the protest, only prepared to cross the picket line after the protesters after the protesters gave him leaflets and urged him to go inside and argue for their case.

Some of those attending the event were going in by the back way, and after a while the protesters noisily marched around the street along the side of the building to continue the protest there. The protest was still continuing when I decided it was time to go home.

3 Cosas – Sick Pay, Holidays and Pensions.

Stand Up To Lambeth, Brixton Arches, Trafalgar Square & Iran

Saturday, October 8th, 2022

Saturday 8th October 2016 in London

Stand Up to Lambeth Council – Windrush Square, Brixton

Stand Up To Lambeth, Brixton Arches, Trafalgar Square & Iran
Rapper Potent Whisper with the Andrew Cooper’s four Lambeth villains

Lambeth is on some measures one of the most unequal boroughs in the whole of England, with some areas of high deprivation and others with well above average incomes. It is ethnically diverse, with almost two thirds not describing themselves as White British and schoolchildren coming from homes in which 150 languages other than English are the first language. There are large Portuguese, Spanish and Somali speaking communities and almost a quarter of the population identify as Black.

Lambeth Council is run by Labour who have almost 60 councillors, with just three Lib-Dems and two Green Party councillors (there were 3 Conservatives and no Lib-Dems in 2016.) It is dominated by right-wing Labour councillors and has many links with property developers, estate agents and others, and seems determined to follow policies which are not in the interests of the people of Lambeth, closing libraries, ending many vital services and getting rid of council estates and the people who live there.

Lambeth works with Savills, are a leading agency in social cleansing

Activists in the borough accuse the Labour council of financial waste and “destroying our communities, racial and social inequality” and “stealing the people of Lambeth’s future.” The borough’s motto is ‘Spectemur Agendo’, Let us be judged by our acts, and many in Lambeth have judged the council and found it guilty of selling out its people.

Police come to protect a Lambeth Labour stall supporting the council

The protest was planned to be ‘family friendly’, a ‘big, pink, determined’ event to ‘Stand Up To Lambeth Council’ and oppose its “destruction of services, homes, jobs and the rights of residents.” As well as speeches there was a small brass band. But the protesters were clearly angry and a Lambeth Labour stall in the square needed police protection after it refused to take part in the protest or move. There were Labour members taking part in the protest, but Lambeth Momentum later appeared to deny supporting it, hoping to avoid the kind of purges that have been highlighted in the recent truly shocking Al Jazeera ‘Labour Files’ documentaries.

Council business is largely decided by a small inner cabinet, and the four major villains were represented at the event by a large four-headed monster made by Andrew Cooper with the faces of Lambeth Labour leader Lib Peck, Cabinet Member for Housing Cllr Matthew Bennett, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Business and Culture Jack Hopkins and Sue Foster, Strategic Director, Neighbourhoods and Growth.

Eventually the march set off for Clapham Common, though it came to a partial halt almost immediately for a protest outside Lambeth Town Hall opposite Windrush Square, before setting off slowly towards Clapham.

I walked with the march roughly halfway to Clapham Common before turning around and going back to Brixton to catch the Victoria Line to central London.

More on My London Diary:
Stand Up to Lambeth March
Stand Up to Lambeth Council

Brixton Arches & More – Windrush Square, Brixton

Save Brixton Arches

Both on my way to the protest and during the march along Acre Lane I took a few pictures of Brixton. One of the actions of Lambeth Council has been to cooperate with Network Rail to force out traders from the railway arches in the centre of Brixton.

Network Rail intend to refurbish the arches and will then re-let them at three or more times the current rents, which will mean the distinctive local businesses being replaced by chains which can be found on every high street across the country. The campaign to keep the businesses there received huge support in the area, but the council wasn’t listening.

I rushed a few yards away from the march to photograph the mural Big Splash, painted in 1985 by Christine Thomas and still looking well (details here), though I doubt if anything like this ever existed on Brixton’s river, the Effra.

Trafalgar Square

I’d left the Lambeth protest to come back to photograph a protest that was supposed to be happening in Trafalgar Square which quite a few people had said on Facebook they would be attending. But nobody had turned up, and I had time to wander around the square.

One of the four 18ft square square bas-reliefs on the base of the column was of particular interest as the picture showing Nelson’s death includes one clearly black face. These panels were supposed to be made with brass from captured French cannon, but one led to a court case with the makers being jailed for having added some much cheaper iron and it had to be completed by others. The builders of the column also got away with fraud, as when it was restored in 2006 it was found to be 16 ft shorter than it should have been.

Red Devils MC, Holland

There were problems with the lions too, as they were first commissioned to be sculpted in granite, but the sculptor had a disagreement with the architect and abandoned the job. took years for them to be re-commissioned in bronze from Sir Edwin Landseer and Baron Marochetti and they were only added in 1867. And like most large projects while the costs were intended to be covered by private finance (or rather public subscription) the government had to step in and cover much of the cost.

Trafalgar Square

Iranian vigil on Anniversary of 1988 Massacre – Trafalgar Square

I’d stayed in Trafalgar Square to photograph a vigil by the Iranian People’s Fadaee Guerrillas in London and the Democratic Anti-imperialist Organisations of Iranians in Britain on the 27th anniversary of the massacre of an estimated 18,000 political prisoners held in Iranian jails by the Iranian regime following its defeat in the Iraq/Iran war in the Summer of 1988.

The 3 months of killing by the Iranian regime of communists, progressives, patriotic activists and intellectuals of all ages ended at the beginning of October 1988 but details only began to emerge years later. The protest also called for the release of the many political prisoners still held in Iran and called for a society there were all would be free and equal.

Iranian vigil on Anniversary of Massacre

Aylesbury, Newington & City Nights

Monday, August 22nd, 2022

This post looks at the end of my walk south of the river on Sunday 13th November 1988 – the previous post was Flats, A Square, Bread & Funerals – Walworth – and finishes with a few pictures taken at night in the City of London.

Wendover, Aylesbury Estate, Thurlow St,  Walworth, Southwark, 1988 88-11c-12-Edit_2400
Wendover, Aylesbury Estate, Thurlow St, Walworth, Southwark, 1988 88-11c-12

Southwark Council built the Aylesbury Estate between 1963 and 1977. It was one of the larger if not the largest public housing developments in Europe, with around 2,700 homes. Wendover, designed by the boroughs architects, was completed in 1970. I think it’s two blocks contains around 471 flats as well as a learning centre and tenants hall.

Like many council estates it was poorly maintained over the years and parts of the estate were deliberately used by the council to house people and families with various social problems, something exacerbated by the Conservatives plans, particularly under Thatcher, to get rid of social housing, resulting in it increasingly becoming housing for the most deprived members of society.

The estate has a central boiler for heating and hot water, which has increasingly suffered from failures which residents say the council is very slow to take action over. The flats also have fallen behind more modern standards of insulation etc, and are in need of some refurbishment, though the council drastically overstated the costs of this when making their case for demolition.

Wendover, Aylesbury Estate, Thurlow St,  Walworth, Southwark, 1988 88-11c-14-Edit_2400
Wendover, Aylesbury Estate, Thurlow St, Walworth, Southwark, 1988 88-11c-14

I’ve in recent years been inside quite a few flats on the estate, often lovingly maintained and decorated by their residents who have been fighting a long battle against council plans to redevelop the area.

Although the council carried out a long PR campaign against this and the neighbouring Heygate Estate – including Tony Blair making his first speech as Prime Minister here and launching the party’s programme of regeneration of housing estates.

Its relatively open and fairly traffic-free nature along with convenient location made the estate a favourite for “grim backdrops to murder scenes, gun and drug storylines and gang-related crimes in soaps and gritty dramas” until pressure from local residents forced Southwark Council to ban filming in the area.

Channel4 took footage from the estate to use in their channel ident, adding to it, according to Ben Campkin of UCL quoted in Wikipedia, “washing lines, shopping trolley, rubbish bags and satellite dishes” to show it as “a desolate concrete dystopia [which] provides visual confirmation of tabloid journalists’ descriptions of a ‘ghost town’ estate.

Residents wanted refurbishment rather than demolition – which will lead to many of them moving much further away from the centre of London. But councillors salivated at the thought of profits and handouts from the developers and never seriously considered anything other than demolition and replacement. Their decision lead to a series of occupations by housing activists of properties due for demolition. The complete destruction of the estate seems likely to take around another ten years with the final phase beginning next year. You can read much more about what has happened – and the duplicity of Southwark Council on the Southwark Notes site.

Trade Counter, Lambeth Rd, Newington, Southwark, 1988 88-11e-62-Edit_2400
Trade Counter, Lambeth Rd, Newington, Southwark, 1988 88-11e-62

I walked on through both the Aylesbury and Heygate estates, both estates with a bad reputation for crime, but where I never suffered an uneasy moment despite having around £10,000 of equipment in my camera bag. I didn’t stop to take many pictures after those of Wendover, probably because I was getting tired. I did took a few frames on the New Kent Road and then walked on past the Elephant.

This entrance on Lambeth Road was one I’d photographed previously and probably I made a slight detour to do so again. I’d made an earlier picture using the tiny Minox that lived in my jacket pocket and it was severely underexposed. I had to send the camera for servicing. It was distributed by Leica, who told me it couldn’t be repaired, but offered me a replacement at considerably below the shop price. I had it in my pocket on 13th November taking my first test film, and took it out and made another exposure with it which was fine – and very similar to this, made on an Olympus SLR. Both are online on Flickr.

Frank Love, Lambeth Rd, Newington, Southwark, 1988 88-11e-63-Edit_2400
Frank Love, Lambeth Rd, Newington, Southwark, 1988 88-11e-63

The previous image was the trade entrance at No 47 for Frank Love at New XL House, No 45 Lambeth Rd. Its signs read PLUMBERS BRASSFOUNDRY COPPER TUBES AND FITTINGS but I think the works had closed when I made this image. You can view an earlier image of the whole frontage by Bedford Lemere & Co in the Lambeth borough archive, and see some of their advents on Grace’s Guide. I think these were the last pictures taken on my walk which ended at Waterloo Station.

Dagwoods, St Alphage Highwalk, City, 198888-11e-41-Edit_2400
Dagwoods, St Alphage Highwalk, City, 198888-11e-41

Dagwoods offered Quality Sandwiches to city workers in their lunch hour but the area was pretty empty at night, although there are still a few lights in the offices. The large area of pavement emphasises that emptiness.

I think I was probably coming back from an event at the Museum of London and had decided to take a little walk with my camera, though from some of the other pictures it seems clear I had come without a tripod.

Night, Bassishaw Highwalk, City, 1988 88-11e-42-Edit_2400
Night, Bassishaw Highwalk, City, 1988 88-11e-42

Another deserted area of highwalk, and the sharpness and depth of field suggests I was able to steady myself well to produce this handheld – it will have been taken at a pretty slow shutter speed. This section of highwalk and the office building at right is still there though looking rather different.

Too much of the older London remained for the planners’ dreams of the separation of pedestrians from traffic to ever really be feasible except in a few small areas of the city – and there are very few escalators or lifts where the elderly and disabled can access them.

Night, Bassishaw Highwalk, City, 1988 88-11e-45-Edit_2400
Night, Bassishaw Highwalk, City, 1988 88-11e-45

One of my favourite modern buildings in London, and one I’ve photographed several times in daylight. I suspect it was this building that really prompted me to make this short walk at night. After the four frames (only one digitised) I made here I did wander around an make a dozen or so more exposures, but nothing which really caught my interest when I was deciding which to put on-line.

65 Basinghall St is Grade II listed as “Former exhibition hall, magistrates court and offices, now converted to offices, 1966-69, by Richard Gilbert Scott of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, Son and Partner” and was built in 1966-9. There is a long essay in the listing text. But perhaps sufficient to say its roof is one of the finest uses of concrete at least in the UK.

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds

Saturday, June 18th, 2022

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds. 18th June 2017 was a Sunday, and though I now prefer to observe Sunday as a day of rest, five years ago it was for me another working day. Since the lockdown I get tired much more quickly and I’m cutting down a bit on work. Today I’ll probably go for a walk with my wife after lunch, stopping off on the way home to sit and eat an ice cream before picking more strawberries from the garden and relaxing a little before dinner.

But back in 2017 I was making good use of a Travelcard, going first to the Central Hill Estate which looks down over London close to Crystal Palace then travelling to Westminster to remember Brian Haw before taking the tube up to Oxford Circus and walking to the BBC to join marchers gathering for the annual Al Quds march.

Ted Knight speaks for Central Hill – Central Hill Estate

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds
A woman comes to talk to me about living on the estate since it was built

I deliberately arrived very early at Central Hill so I could take a walk around and make more pictures of one of London’s finest council estates, but almost missed the start of the talk I had come to hear opposing Lambeth Council’s plans for its demolition as I spent some time talking with a woman who had seen me taking pictures who was still living in the home she had moved into when the estate was built and had raised her family here. She told me how good it had been living here in a fine home that was still in good condition and had never needed any major repairs.

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds

Ted Knight, former leader of Lambeth Council, had come to speak in support of the campaign to save the Estate, passed for demolition by the council despite the almost unanimous vote of residents for plans to refurbish rather than demolish and the plans by Architects for Social Housing which would achieve the increase in density desired without demolition.

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds

Knight as council leader earned the name ‘Red Ted’ from the gutter press for standing up to the Tory Government’s rate-capping 1984 Rent Act which severely limited the spending of local councils – which eventually led to him and 31 other councillors being surcharged and banned from political office for five years in 1986. He remained an active trade unionist and in the Labour Party and when he spoke was Branch Chair of the Gypsy Hill ward which includes Central Hill. Although his politics and mine were not entirely the same, I was sad to hear of his death in 2020.

As Knight said, under borough architect Ted Hollamby the estate was planned by Rosemary Stjernstedt as a living community and had remained remarkably successful, with a number of original residents from the 1970s still living there and wanting to continue to do so. At that time Labour believed that nothing was too good for the working people and the estate was built to high specifications and is still in sound condition. A deliberate process of managed neglect – like that which had resulted in the Grenfell Tower disaster had – had been carried out by Lambeth Council to legitimise its demolition.

Lambeth council now refuse to allow the community to use the resource centre

Although the meeting was poorly attended, surveys of estate residents have shown a very high proportion of residents want to remain on the estate and oppose the demolition. The council quotes very different figures and its response to feedback from estate residents has been to remove the estate representatives from the consultative body.

Faults in the paving are marked but left without repair

Lambeth Council has also ridiculously inflated the estimate for the refurbishment of the estate and rejected without proper consideration a carefully planned alternative scheme for a much cheaper limited infill of the site rather than demolition which would involve far, far less disruption to the families who live here and also result in the retention of much-needed social housing. The only real problem with the alternative scheme proposed by Architects for Social Housing is that it would not generate excessive profits for the developers.

Ted Knight speaks for Central Hill

Brian Haw remembered – Parliament Square

This was the sixth anniversary of the death of peace campaigner Brian Haw who had made a ten-year political stand against war in Parliament Square despite considerable harassment by police urged on by politicians, laws introduced against his and other protests, Westminster Council officials and almost certainly MI5 agents.

Brian Haw began his camp here on 2 June 2001, and remained in place despite many attempts, legal and otherwise to remove him for almost 10 years, leaving only when arrested, for court appearances and to speak at protests at Trafalgar Square and Downing St until 1 January 2011 when he left England to receive treatment for his lung cancer in Berlin. He died in Germany in the early hours of 18 June 2011.His ten years of protest and the frequent and repeated harassment undoubtedly hastened his decline and death.

His protest in Parliament square was continued by Barbara Tucker who had joined him in 2005 and had been imprisoned twice for her role in the protest and arrested 48 times. The level of harassment increased and she went on hunger strike on 31st December 2012. Late in January 2013 she was taken into hospital close to death, and was treated for frostbite and exposure. Her protests continued on-line.

Brian Haw remembered

Al Quds march – BBC to US Embassy

Several thousands came from around the country for the annual Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day march in London. Organised by a Quds committee with the Islamic Human Rights Commission it was supported by various groups including the Stop the War Coalition, Muslim Association of Britain and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods. At the front of the march were a group of Imams and Neturei Karta anti-Zionist Jews.

The march called for ‘Freedom for Palestine’ and for all oppressed peoples across the world. It supports of the BDS campaign for a boycott of Israel Israeli goods, divestment from companies supporting Israel and sanctions against the Israeli state. It demands that Israel ends its breaches of international law and its oppression of the Palestinian people in what is an apartheid system, and ends its siege and attacks on Gaza.

Zionists oppose the march with a protest close to the final rally at the US Embassy, but a small militant group carrying Israeli flags attempted to stop the march on its route, calling those taking part supporters of the banned terrorist group Hezbollah.

A number of the marchers were holding Hezbollah flags, which carried a message indicating they were supporting Hezbollah as a political organisation – it is one of two main parties representing Shia Muslims, Lebanon’s largest religious group – as a part of national unity governments in the Lebanese parliament.

Police seemed very reluctant to move the Zionists off the road in front of the march which was held up for some time, with marchers simply waiting for the police to clear them. After some time the the marchers held their planned minute of silence for the Grenfell Tower victims before getting up and telling police that unless the police cleared the road they would simply push them aside and march through.

The Al Quds day march is very much a family event but with the numbers involved the march stewards would clearly have been able to do so and the statement did galvanise the police into action, and the march was able to move on slowly.

The event organisers make it very clear that this is not an anti-Semitic event, and I think one or two placards which might have suggested this were rapidly removed by stewards. In 2019 Home Secretary Sajid Javid decided to proscribe Hezbollah’s political wing as well as the military wing which had been proscribed in 2008, so showing any support for Hezbollah would be an offence carrying a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Al Quds march
Zionists protest Al Quds Day March

The Elephant, Sewol and Brexiteers

Wednesday, April 13th, 2022

The Elephant, Sewol and Brexiteers
Saturday 13th April 2019 in London, three years ago seems very distant to me now.

Love the Elephant, Elephant & Castle, London

The Elephant, Sewol and Brexiteers

The main event I covered on the day was at the Elephant & Castle shopping centre in south London, where local people and supporters were calling on Southwark Council and developers Delancey to improve the plans for the redevelopment of the area.

The Elephant, Sewol and Brexiteers

The campaigners main banner had the message ‘LOVE THE ELEPHANT – HATE GENTRIFICATION’ and this is an area that epitomises the changes that have been taking place in many of London’s poorer areas for many years now. Traditionally working class South London, this area has been at the centre of major demolitions of large council estates and their replacement largely by expensive high rise blocks at market rents with a nominal amount of so-called ‘affordable’ and miniscule amounts of truly social housing.

The Elephant, Sewol and Brexiteers

Immediately to the east of the shopping centre had been the award-winning Heygate Estate, completed in 1974, once popular for its light and spacious flats, but long subjected to a process of managed decline by Southwark Council who even employed PR consultants to emphasise a negative view of the estate, together putting together what the estate’s architect Tim Tinker described in 2013 as a “farrago of half-truths and lies put together by people who should have known better.” The council deliberately used parts of it in the latter years to house people with mental health and other problems, and as temporary accommodation. I photographed the estate on several occasions, most recently on a tour by residents opposed to the redevelopment of both the Heygate and the neighbouring Aylesbury Esate in 2012, Walking the Rip-Off.

The Heygate estate had a mixture of properties with large blocks of flats on its edges and contained 1,214 homes, all initially social housing, though many were later purchased by residents who became leaseholders. It’s replacement, Elephant Park is far less well planned but according to Wikipedia will “provide 2,704 new homes, of which 82 will be social rented. The demolition cost approximately £15 million, with an additional £44m spent on emptying the estate and a further £21.5 million spent on progressing its redevelopment.” The council sold the estate to the developers at a huge loss for £50m.

Many of the flats on Elephant Park were sold overseas as investment properties, the continuing increases in London property prices making these a very attractive holding. The new estate will also provide housing for those on high salaries in London, with a railway station and two underground lines providing excellent transport links for professionals working elsewhere in the city. Those who previously lived and owned properties on the Heygate have had to move much further from the centre of the city, some many miles away.

The Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre, was opened in 1965 on the site of the 1898 Elephant & Castle Estate which had been badly damaged by wartime bombing, and was the first purpose-built shopping centre in the UK and certainly one of the first in Europe. Many of its 115 shops were then owned by local traders.

A market trader speaks about the poor deal they are getting

The rally and procession by Southwark Notes, Latin Elephant and Up the Elephant at the Elephant & Castle called on Southwark Council and the developers Delancey to develop the Elephant for the existing population and users, rather than as social cleansing to attract new, wealthier residents and shoppers. They would like to see a development that retains the existing character of the area which has become very much a centre for South London’s Latin community many of whom live in the surrounding area. It became the most diverse and cosmopolitan shopping centre in London, with also other amenities such as a bowling alley and bingo hall, serving the population of the area.

Security officers order the campaigners out of the market area

They say the development should include more social housing and call for fairer treatment of the market traders, who should be provided with ‘like for like’ new spaces at affordable rents and be given adequate financial compensation for the disruption in business the development will cause.

A long series of protests in which locals were joined by students from the London College of Communication whose new building forms a part of the redevelopment did lead to some minor improvements to the scheme by the developers, but the shopping centre closed in September 2020 and demolition went ahead and was complete around a year later. The new development will include high-rent shops, almost certainly mainly parts of major chains, expensive restaurants and bars and plenty of luxury flats, along with a small amount of “affordable” housing.

Sewol Ferry Disaster 5 years on – Trafalgar Square

The Elephant, Sewol and Brexiteers

The good transport links that make the Elephant so attractive to developers also took me rapidly into the centre of London as the procession of protest there came to and end, although events there were continuing all afternoon – only four stops taking 6 minutes on the Bakerloo Line to Charing Cross.

I’ve photographed the small monthly vigils by campaigners in remembrance of the victims and in support of their families of the 304 people who died in the Sewol Ferry Disaster of 16 April 2014 on a number of occasions, though its always difficult to find anything new to say, either in words or pictures.

But this was a special event, the fifth anniversary of the disaster, and the 60th 60th monthly vigil. Campaigners continue to call for a full inquiry, the recovery of all bodies of victims, punishment for those responsible and new laws to prevent another similar disaster. They tie cards on lines with the class and name of the 250 high school children who were drowned after being told to ‘stay put below deck’.

Brexiteers march at Westminster – Westminster Bridge

The Elephant, Sewol and Brexiteers

Brexiteers were continuing to march weekly around London holding Union Jacks, St George’s flags and placards and many wearing yellow high-viz jackets because although there had been a small majority in favour of leaving Europe in the 2016 referendum, Parliament had not found a way to get a majority to pass the legislation needed. It was this indecision that led to a resounding victory for Boris Johnson in the 2019 election in December, though unfortunately his ‘oven-ready’ agreement has turned out to be extremely half-baked and most of the things dismissed by Brexiteers as scaremongering have turned out to be true, while the promises made by the Leave campaign have so far largely failed to materialise and most seem unlikely ever to do so.

Johnson’s deal – important parts of which he seems not to have understood, particularly over the Irish border arrangements has left us in the worst of all possible worlds, though it has made some of his wealthy friends – including some cabinet members – considerably wealthier and protected them from the threat of European legislation that would have outlawed some of their tax avoidance. Back in 2019 I commented “We were sold the impossible, and things were made worse by a government that thought it could play poker when what was needed was a serious attempt at finding a solution to the problems that both the UK and Europe face.”

The protesters were also protesting with flags and banners supporting members of the armed forces against their trial for killings in Northern Ireland and for the Islamophobic campaign ‘Our Boys’ which seeks to have a drunk driver of Hindu origin who killed three young men prosecuted as a terrorist.

Class War & The Shard – 2018

Tuesday, February 8th, 2022

Class War & The Shard – 2018.

Ian Bone raises a fist as he comes out of the Royal Courts of Justice

February 8th 2018 was a good day for Class War, beginning with a visit to the High Court at the Royal Courts of Justice, where thanks to barrister Ian Brownhill they emerged triumphant after stopping an attempt by lawyers acting for the Qatari royal family to prevent a Class War protest against the ten empty £50million pound apartments in The Shard.

Lawyers for the Qataris had tried to get an injunction against protests by Bone and “persons unknown” and to claim over £500 in legal costs from the 70 year-old south London pensioner, and the case had attracted considerable publicity in the media including an article by Suzanne Moore in The Guardian and another in Le Monde and many more.

Brownhill offered to conduct Bone’s defence pro-bono and contacted the Quatari’s solicitors who immediately offered to drop the case if Class War ‘would stop attacking the Shard’ whatever that meant. In the High Court the Qataris’ lawyers were forced to drop the attempt to ban protests and the demand for fees but Bone accepted a legal restriction on him going inside the Shard and its immediate vicinity.

The case also showed the police’s insecurity over Class War and documents presented in court on behalf of the Qataris clearly showed they had been given documents by the police including one with clearly defamatory false statements about another person associated with Class War who was not named in the injunction.

Another document presented was a surprising testimonial about Class War which made it sound a rather more impressive and powerful organisation than the small but influential irritant to the rich and unscrupulous it is. The police probably the source for this certainly seem to share the lawyers’ delusions of the organisations grandeur, with an unusually strong police presence outside the court and around a corner clearly outnumbering the Class War supporters.

So the protest that evening took place as Class War intended, pointing out that the ten £50m apartments in the Shard had remained empty since the building was completed. The protest stressed that these were just a small fraction of the plans to build another 26,000 flats costing more than a million pounds each across London, many replacing current social housing a time when London has a huge housing crisis with thousands sleeping on the street, and over 100 families from Grenfell are still in temporary accommodation.

As Class War stated, there are already a huge number of empty properties in London, many in large development of high priced flats which either remain unsold or are bought as investments and largely unoccupied. What the capital needs is not luxury flats but much more social housing – and to keep existing housing on council estates under threat of demolition.

The protest, as planned, was peaceful but very noisy, and again policed by a ridiculously large number of police and private security. Ian Bone’s poor health meant he was in any case unable to attend in person. The protesters were careful to remain outside the boundary of The Shard, marked with a metal line in the pavement, but police still tried to move them away to the other side of the road, making the patently spurious claim that they were causing an obstruction to commuters attempting to enter London Bridge station. The only real obstruction to commuters attempting to enter the station were the lines of police across their route.

More on My London Diary
Class War protest at Shard
Class War victory against Qatari Royals