Eighty residents of several estates who feel threatened by our Council's plans to redevelop them came together in Parliament this week, together with two Government ministers and our MP Andy Slaughter. At a highly-charged meeting at the House of Commons, social housing residents from across Hammersmith & Fulham declared their intention to stand shoulder to shoulder together against the council's plans.
The meeting was addressed by Communities and Local Government Secretary John Denham, Housing Minister John Healey and Minister for London Tessa Jowell. John Denham told the eighty residents' representatives present that they were in the vanguard of the battle for decent affordable homes in the UK, and that a Tory government would spread Hammersmith & Fulham's policies across the country.
Last year plans by the Council to, in their words 'redevelop' housing but in many residents' view to 'demolish' their homes were revealed by Andy Slaughter MP who obtained details under the Freedom of Information Act.
Residents responded by declaring they would stay in their homes and in the case of West Kensington and Gibbs Green are using new Government legislation to take ownership of their estates, having recently served the Council with a "Notice to Quit" as a rogue landlord. Housing Minister Healey said this is the first time that tenants have come together to use the legislation.
The meeting also heard speeches from Hammersmith & Fulham Opposition Leader, Stephen Cowan, GLA member Nicky Gavron, housing consultant Jonathan Rosenberg who is advising the tenants, Les Jackson of White City Estate, Maureen Way of West Kensington Estate and Desiree Briscoe-Mcleary of Queen Caroline Estate.
Andy Slaughter said: 'Today Boris Johnson is falsely claiming to have increased the number of affordable homes in London. But, as in Hammersmith & Fulham, any new affordable homes were approved by the previous Labour administration. The Tories' true attitude to low-cost homes is shown by their demolition and disposals policy in councils like Hammersmith, Kensington and Westminster. If a Cameron Government follows the advice of his town hall proteges by ending security of tenure and raising rents to market levels, the future of four million families across the UK is at risk.'
It was perfectly clear at Cameron's recent meeting here that housing was going to be a dominant theme at the election and this sort of action by those who feel their homes are in the firing line is only going to make it even more so. The fact that Labour wheeled out so many Ministers to address the meeting shows they feel this is a strong card in their favour, and the turnout of eighty residents would indicate that there are an awful lot of angry residents who feel the same.