Posts Tagged ‘Southwark Council’

Housing Awards – 2016

Wednesday, June 16th, 2021

A resident of the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark speaks about the council’s terrible record

Most people have never heard of the annual Municipal Journal Local Authority Awards, a kind of self-congratulatory back-slapping beanfeast for local authorities on the lines of the Oscars and a dinner at the Hilton, doubtless on our council tax.

Protesters ignore hotel staff and police who tell them they must move

The news in 2016 that two of London’s councils with the worst records for housing were nominated for awards angered London housing protesters and Focus E15, the Revolutionary Communist Group, Class War, Architects 4 Social Housing and others organised a protest outside the Park Lane Hilton including a rather different awards ceremony.

Protesters from Newham blame Labour Mayor Robin Wales ‘Robin the poor’

They pointed out that Southwark had by 2016 demolished 7,639 units of social housing, sold off public land to developers, and evicted people unlawfully and accuse Newham of social cleansing, rehousing people in distant parts of the country while council properties remain empty, and of causing mental health problems through evictions, homelessness and failure to maintain properties.

Simon Elmer of Architects for Social Housing objects to being assaulted by a police officer.

Police tried to move the protesters away from the hotel entrance and across the service road, but most resisted and held their ground, with police keeping the entrance clear, A few did move across the road were they could hand out flyers people arriving by taxi. There were a a few minor incidents when police pushed a protester holding a banner and again when several protesters held banners and placards in front of the restaurant windows.

Class War had brought their banner with a quote from US anarchist Lucy Parsons “We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live” particularly appropriate for a protest in Mayfair and outside the Hilton. Police made a rather unwise and ineffectual attempt grab this from them but soon gave up.

People continued to arrive for the event and to walk past the protesters. Many had come from towns and cities across the UK for the event and where probably not particularly away of the situation in London boroughs.

I played around a little with the reflections in the polished metal canopy above the Hilton entrance, which was doing a good job in keeping the light rain off most of the protesters, though I was getting a little wet.

Looking up from the service road we could see those attending the awards ceremony talking and drinking before the dinner, while outside the protesters were beginning their own awards.

There were quite a few speeches from various of the activists, and Southwark won the award as London’s worst council, with Newham a close second.

Against the Housing Bill – 30/01/2016

Saturday, January 30th, 2021

Five years ago, on Saturday 30th January, Lambeth Housing Activists organised a rally and march from the Imperial War Museum to Downing St to protest against the Housing and Planning Bill, which was to have a particularly large impact in London and greatly worsen the already acute housing crisis here.

Rather unusually, the activists were joined for the march by some local councillors including Southwark Council Cabinet Member for Housing Richard Livingstone. Southwark, a Labour dominated council, has attracted a great deal of criticism over the demolition of council estates in the borough, including the scandal of the Heygate estate at the Elephant & Castle, and many on the protest were residents of estates currently being demolished – such as the Aylesbury estate – or under threat of demolition. Southwark and other Labour-run councils in London have made huge reductions in council housing through their so-called regeneration of estates, with many former residents being forced to move away from inner London and into much higher rent private or housing association properties, often with very poor security of tenure.

There were a number of speakers at the rally, including the then Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett and housing researchers and activists, who were listened to attentively and warmly applauded, both for their condemnation of the Bill and also of the social cleansing effect of the estate demolitions being carried out by councils. It was hardly surprising that when Richard Livingtone came to the microphone he was greeted by boos and loud heckling and a heated argument with one of the activists.

Eventually the rally broke up and the march began, starting by walking through the streets of Lambeth before turning around to make its way through Westminster. Class War and friends decided to liven things up a little, first by dancing along the street singing the ‘Lambeth Walk’ and then by rushing across the pavement towards a branch of of large estate agents and protesting outside it for some minutes before moving on.

Earlier at the rally Simon Elmer of Architects for Social Housing had given a closely researched and caustic assessment of the role of Labour Councils and housing policies which have been largely dictated by estate agents. Class War had brought a number of more controverisal banners related to housing, among them one with a picture of a military cemetery with its field of crosses stretching into the distance and the message ‘We have found new homes of for the rich’ and the Lucy Parsons banner with its quotation “We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live”.

Police had rushed to protect the estate agents, but Class War made no attempt to enter or damage the property, and soon moved off. There was what seemed to be some entirely pointless harassment of protesters by police – including the so-called liaison officers – throughout the march, but I saw no arrests.

At Downing St police formed a line to lead the marchers to the opposite side of the road, and the activists followed their direction then simply walked across Whitehall behind the police line and posed for pictures in front of the gates and spilling out to block the north-bound carriageway. Police attempted to persuade them to move and eventually people drifted away and I left too.

More at Housing and Planning Bill March.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.