Category Archives: Housing

Appalling Tory Leaflet Kensington & Chelsea

The Tories in Kensington have been asking residents how important the Grenfell tragedy is on a scale of 0-10.

It is insulting and insensitive.

Preventing another fire like Grenfell couldn’t be more important. And Theresa May has the power to do it — she could use next Wednesday’s budget to set aside money to fit social housing with sprinklers that would save lives. Let’s make sure she hears our message.

Please sign this and tell the Tories why Grenfell must not be ignored.

This is unacceptable — add my name
Sign this and help us make sure that residents of high rise social housing can sleep safely with the knowledge that they are being listened to.

A Report from Stand Up to Racism Conference

Although I only managed to get to the second half of Saturday’s Stand Up to Racism conference due to attending SERTUC in the morning, I did manage to attend a particularly poignant session in the afternoon that was not only important in itself, but that has been demonstrated as exceptional vital by events today. It was held in the afternoon on the Grenfell Fire and social cleansing, with an extremely strong range of speakers.

Activist rapper Lowkey, himself from from Kensington, spoke eloquently on the very long history of working class residents of the area having to campaign for their rights to live there. This, in fact, goes back before it would have been considered part of London, or even particularly urbanised.

Lucy Masoud, of the Chelsea Fire Brigades Union spoke next. She described her colleagues’ experiences of facing the terrible blaze itself (easily the worst actual fire most of them had ever seen, even in long careers). She finished with the fire fighters’ resolve to demonstrate through thorough proof that whatever the proximate cause of the initial blaze, the fundamental cause has been austerity.

We heard from two young survivors, Tomassina Hessel and Bellal El Guenuni, who talked about how young people had come together in the emergency to try to save lives, something that the media has largely ignored about this very ethnically diverse, solidly working class, community. They also told us that most of the survivors of the tower are still not in permanent homes.

The last speaker was Glyn Harris, a campaigning housing worker and author on the subject. He related how racism has always affecting housing policy, with members of ethnic minorities often end up in housing that the least desirable and safe. It is also the least economically secure, as witnessed in the way the sub-prime mortgage scandal that triggered the great economic crash 10 years ago.

The speakers all had there own take, but they were all pointing to the intersection between racism and austerity and the way that the basic, and totally avoidable, failure of authorities in their duties toward the public are represented by the Grenfell tragedy. It is fitting, then, they are all proved completely right by the Conservatives being forced to day to confirm that despite promises, they have no intention of providing fire prevention systems for high-density housing that could prevent future Grenfells. Ultimately, people the Tories do not care about live in that kind of housing, and it for reasons like that they we must do everything we can to get them out of office.

You can get a more full report on the conference here.

Our council: Austerity for the many not the few!

Barnet TUC notes with some alarm the advert below for a new CEO of the Barnet Group which manages Housing Services and Services for vulnerable adults for the London Borough of Barnet.
 
This advertised Salary represents an increase of at least 15% on the when the role was previously advertised in 2015.
 
Local Government workers are facing a Pay Cap of 1% imposed by the Tory Government
 
At the same time front line Housing Services like ASSIST and Caretaking Services are being cut and Terms and Conditions and wages of staff are being slashed.

Your Choice Barnet workers, who were amongst the lowest paid workers in the Barnet Group, had their salaries reduced by 9.7% 
 
Every Service we provide is constantly under review looking for savings.
 
Every service in the Barnet Group is suffering from under funding and is understaffed.
 
The Barnet Group has set up a company, TBG Flex, for new workers in Barnet Homes and Your Choice Barnet – with less pay and state statutory minimum Terms and Conditions, a longer working week and no access to the Local Government Pension Scheme. So we have a two tier workforce operating in a council owned entity.

All in the name of Austerity.
 
This is a disgrace and cannot continue – TBG Flex staff must be transferred back to Local Government Terms and Conditions.
 
The waste of money in having the Barnet Group as a separate Local Authority Trading Company, where senior managers are paid over inflated salaries awarded by the Boards which in themselves are an administrative nightmare and an added expense –
 
Barnet Group Board
Barnet Homes Board
Your Choice Barnet Board
TBG Flex Board
Open Door Homes Board
 
Board members are paid £5k a year for on average 8 days work a year.
 
Austerity for the many not the few!
 
This is all unnecessary – Return Housing Services and Your Choice Barnet back In House and go back to a Director of Housing – The savings made could be put back into the front line Housing Services.

Love Carnival Hate Racism

6da3e909-3b1c-41ad-b8e6-614b256fd2b9This weekend’s Carnival is set to be a massive celebration of London’s diversity and tribute to the victims of the Grenfell Tower Disaster.

As well as supporting Love Music Hate Racism’s procession, Stand Up To Racism will be at carnival getting the anti-racist message out – if you’d like to help out at our stall, join us on from 12noon on Monday 28th August Cambridge Gardens (W10 6JD) just up from Ladbroke Grove tube station, or email us at info@standuptoracism.org.uk
And to get involved with LMHR’s procession on Sunday 27th, get along to the Love Music Hate Racism carnival pre-meet 7pm Thursday 24th August at Maida Hill Place, 2-4 Fernhead Road, London W9 3ET. You can book your place in the procession, pick up and customise your t-shirt and find out details for the day. See event page here

Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle

For some people, a housing crisis means not getting planning permission for a loft conversion. For disposothers it means, quite simply, losing their home. Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle is a feature documentary directed by Paul Sng (Sleaford Mods – Invisible Britain) and narrated by Maxine Peake, exploring the catastrophic failures that have led to a chronic shortage of social housing in the UK.

These failures include government policy that prevents local councils and housing associations from building homes for the 1.4 million people on council housing waiting lists and the quarter of a million homeless people in Britain. Or the deliberate neglect of council estates by local authorities that’s used to justify ‘regeneration’ projects with private developers, which often force those who cannot afford homes in the new properties to relocate to other parts of the country, far from their families and support networks.

With unprecedented access to residents, politicians and experts in the housing industry and media, Dispossession is the story of people fighting for their communities, of people who know the difference between a house and a home, and who believe that housing is a human right, not an expensive luxury.

Screenings here.

Homes Before Profit – Protest at Housing Committee Meeting

10678653_665703483541628_6372370040633450498_n#homesbeforeprofit
#peopleslivesmatter
#nomoreausterity
#ToryCutsKill

Labour councillors have submitted a member’s item to the 26 June Housing Committee calling for a review of fire safety at all Barnet Homes properties and housing association properties located in the borough following the fire at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington.

Facebook event here: Monday, June 26 at 6 PM at Hendon Town Hall.

Press statement – Barnet Housing Action Group

#JusticeforGrenfell
#Inquest4GRENFELL
Barnet Housing Action Group stand in solidarity with the residents of the Grenfell Estate, the dead and the living!
Our hearts are with them and words cannot truly express how saddened we are at the news of the tragic loss of so many loved ones in their community.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this tragic time.
We are humbled by the actions of the local community and those that have travelled to provide support; a rainbow of people of colours, ethnicities, origin and faith, they are the true heroes , together with the professionalism and bravery of the rescue services. We salute you all !!
We are shocked and appalled that not one of Barnet’s Conservative MP’s as have yet posted messages of sympathy or support in the press or social media and that our newly elected Prime Minister did not take time to speak with or console residents in their grief whilst visiting yesterday.
Who are the dead? Working class and diverse communities – in Kensington –   the Richest borough in London ! IN THE 5TH RICHEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!
How many are dead?
Will we ever know. The fire reportedly started on the 4th floor of a 24 storey block containing a 120 flats. How many per flat? How many sub-let? How many HMO’s? How many sofa surfers resided in this block?
Average of say 5 per flat = 600 residents…….


The negligence of the council which consistently failed to act on the concerns raised by residents amounts to criminal negligence! Residents were in fact threatened with legal action, as stated by Pilgrim Tucker, former Coordinator for London and South East of union of Unite Communities, and facilitator in the creation of our Housing Action Group https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=An2HxYnJs7Y
(SEE FOOT NOTE 1 )
We reiterate  the statement made yesterday from Sophie Khan solicitor for the victims of the Lakanal House Tower Block fire in Camberwell in 2009  a public inquiry is NOT the right way forward – Residents should be ‘demanding an INQUEST from the Government’  !!
Although not directly pertaining to the tragedy of what has occurred at the Grenfell  Estate We also note that Jeremy Corbyn attempted to pass a law to require private landlords to make their homes safe and ‘fit for human habitation’ last year but it was rejected by the Conservatives – 72 of whom were private Landlords. 
Private renters in Barnet should know that both Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet , and Mike Freer, MP for Finchley and Golders Green – a private landlord himself, chose to vote against the amendment.
As a member group of the Radical housing network we support the call for the immediate resignation of Gavin Barwell , Theresa May’s chief of staff, ex minister for housing , whom it has been revealed ‘sat on a report warning that tower blocks were vulnerable to fire.’ Barwell also voted against the amendment to make homes fit for human habitation!
And also reiterate the statement that ‘this government, – – – have neglected council housing , and treated tenants as if they were second class. Nationally and locally , politicians have subjected public housing to decades of systematic disrepair and open to privatisation.
Regeneration , when it has come , has been for the benefit of developers and buy to let landlords, who profit from luxury flats built in place of affordable homes.
Across London , regeneration has meant evictions, poor quality building work, and has left tenants with little influence over the future of their estates’ http://radicalhousingnetwork.org/
We fully support Barnet Labour Party’s call for fire safety review and we are seriously concerned about the role of building controls delivered by Capita that could cause conflict of interest re safety,

and which we believe should be brought back under council control.

especially in view of announcement in today’s Barnet press stating

The same cladding on Grenfell Tower is on a Barnet block of flats and businesses, it has been revealed.East Sussex company Harley Façade Ltd and its main contractor, Rydon, completed work on commercial building Merit House, Edgware Road between 2013 and 2015, adding the same waterproof cladding that wrapped Grenfell Tower..

  Barnet Housing Action have been campaigning about these issues since 2013 in Barnet, and have seen the systematic destruction of our public housing in the borough –  on the West Hendon, Dollis valley Grahame Park and Stone Grove estates, where council housing stock has been depleted resulting in a net loss of 827 council homes for social rent!
‘We want these pigeon holes taken down’ has been a call from Grenfell residents – https://www.channel4.com/news/voice-of-anger-amongst-those-who-live-around-grenfell-tower
But we as the voices of the residents and housing campaigns NEED TO FIGHT TO ENSURE that they are replaced – with decent, genuinely affordable, PUBLIC housing which are homes for the residents that were living there!!!
We call for a moratorium on regeneration on all London estates until more is known about this horrendous tragedy as it seems apparent that it was caused because of ‘regen improvements’. 

This tragedy MUST not be allowed to be an opportunity for those with power to socially cleanse the area – to gentrify with luxury homes for the rich and residents to be dispersed all over the country like pieces of furniture !!! 
The block is no doubt surrounded by empty “luxury apartments” which ought rightfully to be put to good use to house the newly homeless, bereaved former residents.

It’s tragic that it’s come to this, but from the ashes we hope we can move forward to a time and a place where all lives truly do matter, over profit, over money, over greed.


#Thepersonalispolitical
#Peoplebeforeprofit
#Homesbeforeprofit

NOTE 1

Grenfell Action Group outlined concerns on their blog over a series of posts, but were ignored by authorities. The group repeatedly warned the estate landlord, Kensington & Chelsea Tenants Management Organisation (KCTMO) of serious issues with fire safety in the blocks, highlighting the absence of basic fire protection measures including fire extinguishers and a building-wide fire alarm system. The local council, Royal Borough of Kensington Chelsea (RBKC), dismissed residents’ concerns as it pushed through a £8.6 million regeneration scheme.
NOTE 2
Barnet Housing Action Group are an umbrella campaign which includes Our West Hendon and Sweets Way Resists, and are a member of the Radical Housing Network.
Press Contact :
Janette Evans
Jasmin Parsons
Twitter
BarnetHousingAction
@BarnetHaction

Barnet Housing Action Group – Home | Facebook

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