Five years ago I wrote “Why sink estates exist” in despair at the course right to buy had taken and the growth of buy to let mortgages.  Now Stephen Farrall of the University of Sheffield has written a similar piece only based on data rather than hearsay. I’ve reproduced it here with permission under the Creative Commons Licence.  The article was originally published on The Conversation.

Thatcher helped people to buy their own homes – but the poorest paid the price

Stephen Farrall, University of Sheffield

It has been 25 years since Margaret Thatcher gave her final, tearful speech as prime minister of the UK on the steps of Downing Street. In the decades since, we’ve had time to get to grips with the legacy left behind by one of the most polarising figures in British politics. Cutting through the visceral, ideological storm she left in her wake has been no easy task, and our research has found that the story told by the data is more complex than we could have imagined.

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Five years ago I attended Progressive London 2010 at which Karen Buck was speaking, among others.  She identified then the problems that will come to pass with the Governments recent attack on tenure.

Karen Buck was superb with a long talk about the possible loss of secure tenure of council tenants should a Conservative Government be elected and implement the plans outlined by Localis in Principles their now infamous document on Tory proposals for council housing.

She drew a parallel with the experiences of black migrants from the American South coming to Chicago in the 1940s and becoming the victims of slum landlords while suffering the indignities of being “frequent movers”, people unable to take their place in society for want of a stable home address. [The Promised Land – Nicholas Lemann] Karen put forward the view that in the absence of secure tenure and having only an AST with two months to quit, council tenants would become a transient population, unlikely to be registered with a GP, their children changing schools, unlikely to be on the electoral register and to vote. She pointed out that Conservative think council tenants are second class citizens.

Karen Buck is always worth listening to about housing.

Council tenants lose lifetime right to live in property – The Guardian


Click image for audio and see Tweet

If you want to skip the introductions the interview proper starts at 9m20s in.

Heard through @municipaldreams


The other night Channel 4 broadcast Sex in Class and there in the title sequence, before the name of the programme had been shown, appeared this tower block, by implication in Accrington where the programme is based. However, on calling the local planning department the following morning they denied having anything over 7 storeys in their town.

The image above is a photograph of the television screen, I tried to run the C4 online catchup to get a high quality screenshot but all I get is a rotating animation and never the programme so the quality of the image above is necessarily poor.

The mystery remains. This is a scissor maisonette block as evidenced by the alternate corridors whose end windows appear on the right hand side visible in the photo above. There is one corridor for every two levels. That is how scissor blocks work. But I didn’t think there were any outside London and Glasgow and would be interested to know where this one is.

I wrote to Channel 4 and they directed me to the programme makers who have yet to reply.

If you recognise it please drop me a line to thank you.

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Last night ITV devoted their programme to the London housing crisis in the course of which they visited Cressingham Gardens Estate. That clip is linked above and the 30m programme from the link below.

ITV News London 15/4/15

Estates under threat II

April 4th, 2015

We will not get the new social housing we need until there is a profound leftward shift in Government. Whether that comes from a Labour / SNP deal or elsewhere remains to be seen but without it I fear another five years of expulsions

Map ‏@onalifeglug HT @gamecounsel & @CorpWatchUK

Five years ago I wrote this:-

“Among Tory boroughs across London, there seems now to be a disease spreading ever wider that the land on which council tenants live is available for development”

[Tory struck out 7/11/12 owing to realisation that they’re all at it. Hello Southwark (Lab)! – Ed.]

Follow the fight to save London’s social housing @michaellondonsf and planning stuff.

regen3Click image above for film

In part three of Regeneration Game, host Daisy-May Hudson sets out to discover what happens to council estates once they’re demolished. Out of 1,200 homes on South London’s Heygate Estate, only 75 council homes remain. We go to City Hall to meet the Head of the London Assembly, Darren Johnson, who says that the demolition of the Heygate was the worst social housing disaster of recent times. We also head to court, to hear the verdict of the E15 mothers’ eviction.


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For the first time, the international property trade show MIPIM comes to London. Host Daisy-May Hudson dresses up to meet those planning the city’s regeneration. At the trade show, Mayor Boris Johnson gives a speech lauding the increase in London property prices and welcoming foreign investment.

Afterwards, Daisy receives an email from another resident struggle in Barnet, North London – where people’s homes are being knocked down to be replaced by a Barretts development – and finds out first-hand what it feels like to be living every day with the prospect of your community being demolished.


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In part one of Regeneration Game, host Daisy-May Hudson visits the Carpenters Estate in Newham, the borough with the biggest homelessness crisis in London. With Westfield shopping centre, the Olympic site and excellent transport links surrounding the area, the land on which people’s homes stand has rocketed in value. The council has said the Carpenters Estate is no longer “viable” and has been slowly trying to relocate residents over the last eight years – but a group of local mums are leading the fight back.


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Michael, why aren’t you Mayor? You’d make a better one than Boris.

If I could take everybody in London under 30 back to the 1970s for a day and show them the council housing we had then, and point out that they themselves could have applied for a flat and got one in under a year in most cases, they’d be in heaven.  What have we lost under the Tories and New Labour???