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Posted on 12 November 2014 at 15:23 GMT

Outside the council meeting, Waltham Forest town hall, 11.11.14, photo by Paula Mitchell

Outside the council meeting, Waltham Forest town hall, 11.11.14, photo by Paula Mitchell   (Click to enlarge)

Waltham Forest: tenants fight to save their homes

Paula Mitchell

To shouts of protest and promises to fight on, Waltham Forest Labour council made a disgraceful decision yesterday in the face of angry tenants fighting for their homes.

The council is trying to force through the redevelopment of Fred Wigg and John Walsh towers in Leytonstone without proper consultation with the residents.

They want us to believe that the only option is for a private developer to come in and renovate in such a way as will result in the blocks becoming unaffordable for those who live there at the moment.

Tenants protested outside the town hall and were pleased to be joined by one of the Focus E15 mums.

Nancy Taaffe speaking, Waltham Forest town hall, 11.11.14, photo by Paula Mitchell

Nancy Taaffe speaking   (Click to enlarge)

Waltham Forest Socialist Party and TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) supporters have worked alongside the residents for the last year, and the protest was compered by TUSC prospective parliamentary candidate Nancy Taaffe.

Many tenants took the microphone to air their views. Several declared "We will not move!", prepared to fight to the end to save their homes.

Fury against Labour

The anger against this heartless Labour council is huge. "We will never vote Labour again!" is heard repeatedly. Socialist Party members have pointed out the need to challenge the Labour Party on its willingness to hand over public land and homes to private developers in this way.

If it wanted to tackle the housing crisis, it could implement rent control tomorrow and begin building council housing to meet local need.

But it won't do that, so we need to stand candidates in elections who will. Earlier this year we called for residents of the towers to stand on the TUSC list in the local elections in May 2014.

The protest went into the council chamber to back up the residents who had been allowed to directly address the cabinet. Sonia and Patricia said that the council should take note of the recent Supreme Court judgement against Haringey council's consultation over cuts to council tax benefit which found that the council had broken the law by not providing real alternatives.

They called on the council to delay the decision on what happens to the blocks to allow for genuine consultation.

The blocks urgently need repairs and renovation - but residents want this done by the council directly.

There is also a need for larger homes to solve the overcrowding in the blocks - but no four-bed houses are proposed in the rebuild. Instead there will be 70 fewer homes than there are currently and several will be sold.

But this is not the end of the matter. The bulldozers will not move in immediately - there is plenty of time to build up the campaign further, appeal for support from the community and trade unions in the borough, and prepare residents to refuse to leave the towers if that's what they decide they want to do.

Waltham Forest TUSC

Public meeting: Housing for ALL

►No to privatisation of our homes and our land!

►Rent control now!

►Build council housing!

Wednesday 3rd December 2014, 7.30pm

William Morris Community Centre, Greenleaf Road, London E17 6QQ

Invited speakers:

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 12 November 2014 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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