‘DEFEND Council Housing! Kick Blair out!’ shouted more than 100 tenants, youth and trade unionists as they marched through the Aylesbury Estate in south London yesterday.
‘Kick out the privateers! No private landlords!’, ‘No more lies! Stop the demolition!’, ‘Keep council housing! Keep council tenancies!’, they continued.
The march was organised by the Young Socialists against Southwark Council plans to demolish Aylesbury Estate and replace it with private accommodation.
This is despite a 73 per cent vote by the tenants against privatisation.
The march began at Burgess Park on Walworth Road and made its way through the estate – of around 2,800 council homes – to a rally near the busy East Street market.
Tenants fighting privatisation on Clapham Park Estate in neighbouring Lambeth also joined the demonstration.
Piers Corbyn, a member of the Tenants First Campaign, said the demolition of the Aylesbury would be worth ‘£2 billion’ to the privateers.
Corbyn told the rally: ‘Tenants have been working for years to defend their council tenancies.
‘This is about social cleansing,’ he continued, adding: ‘It’s really good to see so many people here.’
Aylesbury tenant Rob Mitchell said private developers ‘have had eyes on this estate for years and years. They want to get their hands on all these places.’
Workers Revolutionary Party General Secretary Frank Sweeney congratulated the Young Socialists for deciding to hold a march.
He said the estates could be improved if privatisation was halted, adding that the Tories had taken the decision ‘to carve up the estates and sell them off’ and the Blair government had boasted after taking office that it would get rid of all council housing within 10 years.
After being defeated by tenants in a ballot, the Liberal Democrat-controlled Southwark Council then came forward with its plans to knock the whole of Aylesbury down.
Many long-standing tenants on the Aylesbury also spoke at yesterday’s rally, chaired by the Young Socialists’ Jonty Leff.