Parkside Tenants Picket The High Court

Parkside estate tenant CAROL SWORDS (second from left) with supporters outside the High Court yesterday morning
Parkside estate tenant CAROL SWORDS (second from left) with supporters outside the High Court yesterday morning

TENANTS from the Parkside council estate in east London went to the High Court yesterday, demanding the cancellation of the estate’s transfer to a housing association, on the grounds of alleged ballot-rigging.

Tenant Carole Swords, who has brought the case to court, told News Line: ‘In July 2005, we had a ballot to transfer our homes with a company called Old Ford Housing Association.

‘There are about 2,600 properties on the estate and about 10,000 people living in these properties.

‘On the day of the London bombings – one of the days of our ballots – there was no ballot station open and all we were asking for was another ballot.’

She said 44 per cent of the tenants were leaseholders, but the government approved the transfer ‘even though 86 per cent of the leaseholders on the estate voted against and amongst the secure tenants there were only seven votes in it.’

Swords added: ‘There were over 1,200 individual letters from tenants to John Prescott asking for a public inquiry and a petition from local residents got up where over 2,000 people signed it.’

But, the local authority rejected the petition, she said, ‘and the Secretary of State (then Yvette Cooper) didn’t take the petition into consideration when she decided to approve the transfer of the estate. She only took the council’s views into consideration.’

She accused Tower Hamlets council of running ‘a hate campaign against us, where we got nasty letters in the (local) paper every week and things like that.

‘We got branded “activists’’ and “left wingers’’ when all we were doing was defending our homes and our right to a democratic ballot.

‘This is a fight for democracy – all we wanted was a fair and honest ballot which we never got, from start to finish.’

Supporter Terry McGrenera warned Tower Hamlets was planning an ‘ALMO’ (Arms Length Management Organisation) for the whole borough.

Daniel Flood, another Parkside tenant, said: ‘The whole transfer idea is supposed to be about what tenants want.

‘If we didn’t have council housing we wouldn’t be able to live in east London, it would be too expensive.’

Another supporter, Mike Wells, said housing association tenants in Clays Lane, Stratford, were being ‘decanted’ because of the London Olympics.