‘WE WILL NOT MOVE!’ – angry tenants lobby Southwark council

A section of Wednesday night’s South East London Council of Action lobby of Southwark Council demanding no demolitions
A section of Wednesday night’s South East London Council of Action lobby of Southwark Council demanding no demolitions

SOUTHWARK Council faced an angry lobby by more than 80 tenants and local residents from Heygate, Aylesbury and other council estates, against the plans to sell-off thousands of council homes and hand over the area to private developers.

‘We will not move!’ declared the South-East London Council of Action in a leaflet handed to councillors as they went into Peckham Town Hall for the council’s meeting on Wednesday evening.

‘We voted 73 per cent against this plan but you took no notice. Why should we leave our homes and leave the area?

‘We want money spent on improving our homes and bring them up to a decent standard,’ the lobby went on to demand.

Local shopkeepers and staff also faced with eviction joined the lobby, warning of devastation to the local working-class community unless the privatisation plans are halted.

‘Hands off our homes!’ the lobbyists shouted.

Piers Corbyn, from the Aylesbury and Area Tenants First campaign, told the lobby: ‘They say they’re in favour of council housing and yet they’re planning to destroy 10 per cent of Southwark Council’s housing stock.

‘They’re trying to brainwash people into accepting this monstrous scheme.

‘The council are hoping all their friends will have a say and not you.

‘Keep council housing! Stop the demolition!’

South London resident Patricia Bezzina said: ‘I was homeless for six months before I got a council home.

‘I’ll barricade myself in my flat if I have to!’

Paul Shrubshaw, a tenant from East Dulwich, said: ‘On my estate they’ve been wanting to destroy blocks or sell-off parts of the estate since 2000 and now they’re selling off individual flats onto the private market.

‘It’s part of the same story of what’s happening to the Heygate and Aylesbury and we have the same threats hanging over us.

‘They’ve started to do up some of the blocks but what happens if they run out of money. Are they going to sell-off more flats?

‘The council should be lobbying central government for money for council housing.

‘I thought Southwark Council were all for council homes.

‘So what are they doing this for?’

Heygate campaigner Jerry Flynn said: ‘The treatment of the tenants on the Heygate estate is appalling.

‘The new homes they were promised have not been built and there are not enough houses to move people into in the meantime.

‘The Heygate estate and the Aylesbury estate have over 3,000 council homes, which is a sizeable proportion of the total housing stock of about 40,000.

‘So if they can do that at the Heygate and Aylesbury, it has to be a worry about what’s going to happen to the rest.’

Vally Wilson, secretary of the South-East London Council of Action, thanked everyone for attending the lobby and invited them to the next meeting of the South East Council of Action on Wednesday June 18 at 7.30pm at Browning Street Nursery and Community Centre, off Walworth Road, with tenants, trade unionists, youth and everyone who wants to defend council housing all welcome.