In the photograph above pictured with John Healey MP and Jeremy Corbyn MP is Cllr Matthew Bennett Housing Management Board Officers (Chair). The last being one of the people responsible for deciding that Cressingham Gardens must be demolished in favour of higher density housing or in my words to build expensive flats next to a park.

The photograph bothers me. Three years ago following a Tweet from Cressingham Gardens exposing their plight I visited the estate, heard about its history, and wrote a long article with photographs.

Since then a political earthquake has occurred with the emergence of a credible Labour leader who is not from the Blairite wing of the party and who appears to be somebody who represents, after a long absence, the views of the disenfranchised across the UK. The low earners, the disabled, the unemployed, the forgotten.

Over a longer period there has emerged a pattern across London of estate clearances and “regeneration” which from good intentions has tended and is tending to exclude the original residents. That one of these proposed clearances has come to a grinding halt is thanks only to a cooling Far East market.

The problem for the image of the Labour party in London is that many of the councils undertaking these supposed “regenerations” are Labour, traditionally the party of the oppressed, the trades unions, the low paid, the down trodden and yet here they are to be seen pushing council tenants out of their homes in the name of building more.

In the case of Earls Court the incumbent Labour administration are having to deal with a situation not of their making having inherited the situation (22nd May 2014) at West Kensington and Gibbs Green from the outgoing Conservative Council formerly run by Stephen Greenhalgh and friends who sold the land to CapCo.

Labour have a housing policy, they published it in their manifesto before the recent General Election. I have reproduced the relevant section below:-

COUNCIL AND SOCIAL TENANTS

Under the Conservatives, affordable housebuilding has fallen to a 24-year low. Labour will build the genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy that the country needs.

We will remove government restrictions that stop councils building homes and begin the biggest council building programme for at least 30 years.

We will ditch the Conservatives’ ban on long-term council tenancies to give council tenants security in their homes.

We want more people to have a secure tenancy in a home built to high standards.

Labour will scrap the punitive bedroom tax, which has caused many people to be evicted from their home and their community.

More council homes have been sold off under the Conservatives and only one in five have been replaced, despite long housing waiting lists.

Labour will suspend the right-to-buy policy to protect affordable homes for local people, with councils only able to resume sales if they can prove they have a plan to replace homes sold like-for-like.

All those are worthy aims although I wish they’d drop right to buy altogether which has no place in a modern Labour party. If you build houses and flats to rent at cost on public land the last thing you do is sell them off so that others can make a profit and you are left with having to replace them.


But what are we to do to halt the programme of estate regenerations across London which displace existing residents? More to the point how do we get the attention of the man who so far seems to be wilfully ignoring the problem?

I think now and have thought for a long time that we need a turning point. A moment when the estate regenerations halt, stop, are paused for reflection so the question can be asked “who are the beneficiaries of this process and if not the existing residents then whom?” It clearly isn’t the residents.

In order to reach that turning point we need somebody with the authority to say stop and that will only happen from the political Left because the Right are quite happy with the present state of affairs.

I think at the very least the campaign groups need to write to Jeremy Corbyn inviting him to visit their estates and listen to the residents’ concerns put forward in a calm and measured way in order that there can no longer be any possible doubt that he is aware of the conflict at the heart of the Labour party in London.

Until and unless that happens I don’t see a way forward from this impasse.



Oh by the way, ASH don’t think it’s a chasm they think it’s intentional but I’m not prepared to go that far. To believe that would be to believe that all hope is lost of saving the many remaining estates and I’m not prepared to believe that.

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