Greenwich Peninsula social cleansing: The radio documentary

Quintain plan for Greenwich Peninsula
This website was the first media outlet to highlight how Greenwich councillors allowed developers to reduce the amount of “affordable” housing in part of the Greenwich Peninsula to zero.

Councillors made the decision about Peninsula Quays on the basis of a “viability assessment” which had been kept from them – they had to trust Greenwich’s planning officers on what was effectively pre-emptive social cleansing.

Two years on and one court case later, it’s likely the issue may lead to changes in planning procedures across London. Shane Brownie, the residents’ rep who alerted me to the story, battled to force a reluctant Greenwich Council to release the document – a fight he finally won in February.

Now Greenwich has performed a startling about-turn on the issue, planning to make public the assessments that it wouldn’t even show its councillors.

Last week, the issue formed part of a documentary for Radio 4, The Affordable Housing Crisis, which you can still hear on the BBC’s website. Nick Mathiason and Christian Eriksson of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism have also looked at the issue, with their own investigation.

One aspect that shows just how much of a crock the assessment was, and how Greenwich planners failed local people, is in how the viability assessment was based on house prices across Greenwich borough rather than on the peninsula alone – even though demand for a flat on the river close to a Tube station in Zone 2 is not comparable with, say, a semi in New Eltham.

While Greenwich’s plan to publish viability assessments is welcome, it should not obscure the fact that the council’s planners failed on this high-profile scheme, trashing the principles of mixed development that local politicians espouse but often fail to actually achieve.

ada_colau640

I’m a week late with this because I’ve been in Barcelona, a city whose residents are taking a harder line on housing. Wandering around in my first day, a scrum of media outside the city hall indicated the arrival of Ada Colau, Barcelona’s new mayor-elect.

She’s an activist who has led protests and occupations over the city’s housing crisis, and plans to radically increase the supply of social housing in the Catalan capital.

As I watched her field questions from the press – and the enthusiasm shown by passers-by – I couldn’t help thinking that her approach is desperately needed in London. Watching some of the discussion over our own mayoral election, though, I’m not convinced many of the possible candidates get it.

A CGI from architects Chassay & Last.

But perhaps there is some incremental change here in Greenwich. Last night, the council’s planning board deferred a decision on whether or not to allow a nine-storey block of flats on Woolwich Road in Charlton.

Local amenity groups had opposed the Valley House scheme on the basis of height – but what persuaded councillors to throw the scheme back at the developer was its inclusion of “poor doors”. Just 18.4% of the flats there were due to be “affordable” – another secret viability assessment – with these residents given a separate set of doors to access those homes.

This is the kind of development that would have sailed through under former leader Chris Roberts and his henchman Ray Walker, former planning board chair. Now under new chair Mark James, the developers have effectively been told to go away and bin the poor doors.

Greenwich Time, 2 June 2015

Like many issues in Greenwich, there’s a total lack of political leadership over housing – the council leads the local Labour party rather than the other way around. A wraparound ad for Berkeley Homes in this week’s propaganda rag Greenwich Time doesn’t inspire any confidence that its relationship with property developers is any healthier under Denise Hyland than it was under Roberts.

Contrast this with Lewisham, where the local party trumpets new council housing. In Greenwich, this kind of promotion is left to the council itself (via Greenwich Time), leaving an unhealthy political vacuum.

Decisions like last night’s indicate things are starting to change. However, it’s worth remembering that council officers – the same ones that kept Greenwich Peninsula’s viability assessment from councillors – recommended approval, poor doors and all. In Greenwich’s command-and-control political culture, criticising council officers is a crime comparable with robbing grandmothers – they’ve traditionally been used as cover for the council leadership’s cowardice.

But last night’s Valley House decision shows some Greenwich councillors are now starting to take some responsibility for their council’s actions instead of just taking the path of least resistance. Hopefully there will also be pressure to reveal the viability assessment for Valley House too. If the events of the last few months are to really mean anything in Greenwich, though, councillors are going to have to start asking some very awkward questions of their planning staff.

4.30pm update: Former councillor Alex Grant has also written about the issue.

28 comments

  1. lucyneville2013

    Southwark’s record on social cleansing must be pretty bad with the massive redevelopment of Elephant & Castle by the controversial “Lease-Lend” company that Private Eye has been watching out for. The council propaganda is about percentages of “affordable housing” replacing the estates there and elsewhere, but as numerous individuals and bodies have pointed out all of it was more truly “afforidable” when it was owned by the borough for its tenants. I despair.

  2. Pingback: Greenwich Peninsula: how a council own-goal took the heat off greedy developers, and the Tories who let them get away with it | Alex Grant
  3. Nissemus (@Nissemus)

    On the New Capital Quay development, not only do some blocks have poor doors, at least one reportedly has poor floors as well, serviced by separate lifts. These floors are not accessible by stair from the other floors, so presumably if you want to visit a neighbour on one of the poor floors you have to go down to the ground and then up again. Gawd knows what happens if there’s a fire.

  4. Simon Edge

    I thought I’d check out whether our local councillors in Peninsula Ward have decided to break their silence on the issue and saying anything about it on their Labour Peninsula blog. But I think you will already know the answer to that without needing to click on the link http://brainlab2014.weebly.com/blog-peninsula

  5. Mary

    sorry this is a different but related subject. I’ve just done a posting on the Greenwich Industrial History blog http://greenwichindustrialhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/summertime-to-do.html on other peoples newsletters and so on. One article, in a national industrial history newsletter, by Dr. Bob Carr is the second half of an article about how cities round the world are finding a use for their disused gasholders. and I realise I am pretty angry at the way we just trash everything because that is what developers want – or rather what they want is a short cut to a profit.
    Have you looked at the housing areas left behind by the London Docklands Development Corporation around the West India and Millwall Docks – because that is what planners really admire. If local authorities had built street scapes like that they would be (rightly) castigated – but – oh no – private sector, so it must be alright. (slums of tomorrow we all said in 1985).
    This is all linked- as with the gas holder – so with the docks – we trash everything that might make the environment a bit more interesting and different and user friendly – in the name of exactly what??
    (Don’t blame the councillors too much, they are told that if it goes wrong the Council will lose a lot of money, or they will end up in the same pickle as Lambeth in the 1980s, or whatever)

  6. EssKay

    Playing devils advocate – “poor” doors aren’t necessarily mandated by the developer. Housing associations / social landlords sometimes require them to be able to provide a lower spec, cheaper to maintain communal areas for their tenants.

    Would those tenants really want to pay the extortionate service charges associated with most modern private blocks/ developments?

    Also, New Capital Quay at 30%+ actually has one of the highest proportions of affordable housing of any new development in London.

  7. Omar

    Council and housing association policies are indeed generally now to have all their units together rather than dispersed around a block. As such separate entrances and maybe even lifts do indeed make sense.

    I’ll get called a yuppie tory snob for saying it, but ultimately it makes no sense whatsoever to push socially housed families with children into these high density developments and forcing them to mix with the demographic who buy or privately rent them – I. E. Childless professionals or couples with only very young children. They will always clash and there will always be resentment both ways.

    Let the developers build 0% social blocks of shoebox flats along the river but force the premium the blocks will yield (20% probably) to be spent on building sensible family homes in sensible locations on much cheaper land where gardens, parks etc are viable. Everyone will be happier except the utopian socialists.

  8. Omar

    I was under the impression that Greenwich was on board with the grouped units. I live at the end of the peninsula where 40-50% social blocks are nearing completion and next door to an existing 35% social building without grouping (where there are a lot of issues). Right opposite me will also be a smaller social allocation but which is entirely grouped with separate entrances etc.

    During the consultation process both housing associations have told me Greenwich were on board with the grouping approach, as did the developers for what that’s worth.

    I’m not asking for all social units to be banished, but why not force building up around the new secondary school with lower density and larger rooms etc. 60 square metres is not a sensible size for a 2 bedroom family home but at least private owners and renters do it by choice.

  9. Thudd

    It’s not about fairness but about rationing scarce resources. People fondly imagine the old Parker-Morris space standards were *minimum* standards but in practice for the Councils that built to them they were *maximum* standards; council housing was well designed, functional, sanitary, weatherproof and in quality much better than the privately rented cold water HMOs being replaced. Making the rooms smaller – significantly smaller – than private homes then being built was seen as a mechanism to control demand. Rationing.

    Now of course private homes barely meet Parker-Morris space standards and are built to lower quality (in terms of useful economic life) than 1950s council houses. As a nation we’ve become much less equal than we were in the ’50s / ’60s when distinctions between new public and private housing had to be artificially induced. Now we use the threat of ‘class mixing’ to assist rationing; the horror of the DE underclass throwing soiled nappies into the manicured lobbies of the B and C1 apartments. Or shouting. Or copulating too loudly. Let them look upon the uniformed concierges, marble lobbies and gated gardens of the rich and ‘aspire’ in NL jargon to emulate them.

    There’s something desperately wrong with it all.

  10. Shivanee

    I’ll back Omar and EssKay. Those of us who live in mixed developments know there are lots of practical issues and issues. It’s no socialist utopia and terms like ‘poor doors’ and ‘social cleansing’ are hyperbolic and detract from serious debate. ‘Affordable’ allocations in expensive plots of land are not necessarily the best use of increasingly scarce public funds either. As the article points out, other parts of the borough such as New Eltham – and Woolwich, Thamesmeade and Plumstead still rank as cheapest parts of London. Don’t these areas need new life, regeneration too?

    Some may not like it but being involved in the residents’ association I’ve heard plenty of issues around the reality of mixed tenure in the same block. Mostly actually from shared ownership leasers – first time buyers who often get overlooked but pay mortgage, rent and service charges. Its easy to say ‘problem tenants always exist’ but if they are living next door to you and you’ve thrown everything you have into your home (and work very long hours as the case of the individuals raising problems), and in the case of SO – can’t rent your flat out, then that’s no consolation. Housing policy now is very different from the council housing days….

  11. Trevor Allman

    On reading some of the comments on here, as a social housing tenant, I feel like I should get a bell and go round shouting “Unclean!! Unclean!!”.

  12. Omar

    Or you could make a sensible suggestion as to how and where London should house poorer families with 3+ children, and whether ‘in a riverside flat with cardboard walls and a manicured communal courtyard’ can possibly be the right answer.

  13. shivanee

    Trevor, if you want to change perceptions and address the issues, get involved. The Chair of the GMV resident’s’ association calls out for Moat tenants to get involved at every residents’ meeting – no one ever comes forward. It seems that only a couple of moat tenants judging by discussion and Q&A. Shame as private renters and international expats until recently shared ownership are well represented on the committee. Action from social tenants themselves has to be part of the solution.

  14. Trevor Allman

    Shivanee: Thank you for your kind invitation to get involved in the GMV Resident’s Association. I would take up your offer, as being a former Borough Councillor, I’m sure I’d have a lot to offer. But I live in the more upmarket SE3 postcode area, not in the Greenwich Millenium Village. Sincerely hope things are never so desperate that I have to downgrade to a SE10 postcode.

    Omar: As a social housing tenant, I feel ever so humble that you should wish to know my opinion.
    We have to have a complete volte-face with regards to the housing policy on this island, and put community need above that of developers greed. Only that way will we get decent housing built, rather than “rabbit hutches” currently being erected, that obviously make loadsamoney for the developers due to density.

    And may I apologise on behalf of my late parents (Mum was a Nurse. Dad was a Police Officer) for not being able to afford to buy a home and deciding to have two children whilst living in social housing amongst home owners.
    And may I apologise on behalf of my brother, who grew up in social housing, for only serving the nation for 24 years in the Royal Navy (ending his career as Queen’s Harbour Master – Devonport).
    We have clearly all been feckless, as a result of living in social housing, and thus made no contribution whatsoever to this nation, which clearly all home owners have, thus have no right to live among you.

  15. Thudd

    How the Hell have we found ourselves in this situation? It seems all the supposed gains made over the past 50 years of socially liberal morally relative ‘advance’ have just plonked us back in the 1930s; we’ve got laws forcing equality of outcome coming out of our ears yet we’re more divided than ever I’ve known. When homeowners view adjoining tenants not as neighbours but as negative economic externalities that may impact detrimentally on their investment you don’t need to be a genius to know we’ve lost it. And when my house earns more each month than I do (yes, really) you know it isn’t going to correct itself.

    No, I don’t know what the answer is and neither do any of the political parties (though they all pretend that they do) but I do wish we were less greedy and more dependent on each-other, that we abandon political ideology and empty, posturing rhetoric, leave moral relativism behind in exchange for morality and work together for some sort of future of mutual benefit. Perhaps it takes a war of national survival or an economic crash of unimagined ferocity to bring us back to where we once were – I don’t know.

  16. Shivanee

    Trevor – How lucky for you that you live in the ‘more upmarket SE3’ and had a social tenancy passed onto you? Do you have a nice view looking down on the mortgagees, private renters and indeed social tenants that didn’t win a golden ticket, in the pebble-dash semis and ‘rabbit hutches’ of SE7, SE9, SE18, SE28? You see the Peninsula is as flat as a pancake so here, we can only look up.

    Though agree, we are bit ‘nouveau riche’ on the Peninsula. Many of us work in the new Capitalist industries like IT, finance marketing or are business owners in the catering or trades sectors. I admit my first buy was in a far flung West London postcode, near a flight path and I spent an hour standing on the tube to get to work (like most Londoners do). So admittedly, the Peninsula is a step up for me. As for family backgrounds, my parents were immigrants who worked 6 days a week and regular ‘long day’ 12hr shifts in nursing to buy their modest home – in the provinces. Which is worth nothing near the £300k+ social units on the Peninsula which are sometimes trashed by tenants or used as cannabis farms. Indeed, many of the people living here including the shared ownership first time buyers on modest incomes, readily speak of growing up locally on the council estates of Woolwich, in Plumstead, Lewisham or Kent – the areas you look down on. Often comments are pre-fixed with, ‘I grew up on a council estate, I don’t want to live in one.’ Sample response to the higher affordable housing allocation on the Southern end.

    Perhaps us younger generations lack that socialist spirit. Or perhaps settling down for a home and family is now not that easy, even for the supposedly well paid. You see that nice socialist man Tony Blair, introduced tuition fees and cut maintenance grants – so many private renters and ‘aspiring’ homeowners now have big education debts to clear before they can even think of having any kids.

    On the issue of ‘feckless,’ it may surprise you that residents actually have real concerns for small children playing unsupervised next to busy bus lanes. Anyone familiar with the area will know an awful incident is waiting to happen. Our estate manager and the social landlord repeatedly tell the parents to take the kids to the big integrated parkland (where other families go), but some parents just don’t even give a crap about their kids’ safety let alone respecting their neighbours. Or should we not say anything?

    My humble take, living here. Last time I checked, freedom of speech is still permitted and Omar is at least entitled to give his honest account of living in a mixed tenure block.

    But given Trevor is well connected with the council, at least you can make sure they get the Diocese of Southwark not to sell the Dover Rd BlueCoats site to a ‘greedy developer’ but instead build a nice big social housing block in Blackheath to defend against inequality as more of those city bankers move into ‘upmarket SE3.’

  17. Shivanee

    Okay double post, but if we are going to talk about ‘affordable housing,’ lets have an honest debate:

    I had no idea/interest in housing and didn’t know what ‘mixed tenure’ meant before moving here. I assumed with the large flats (European designed), access and lifts, wide pavements etc there would be more older residents and wheelchair users who could benefit from mid-rise flats. Apparently not, these groups aren’t ‘in need’ enough.

    Housing Policy is ‘needs based.’ So it is much less likely that a nurse, retail assistant or security guard will be prioritised for social housing, even with 3+ kids. Very different from the council housing system.

    Service charges are very high. Over time, it can work out cheaper than house renovations but the model assumes high levels of disposable income to pay upfront non-negotiable quarterly maintenance costs (rather than save for occasional projects). Basically ‘spend to save’ which is difficult for many people. So a zone 4/5 travelcard and bigger housing will may still be cheaper than even subsidised rent in zone 2, notwithstanding comparative space/bedrooms afforded.

    The sustainability of mid/high rise developments depends on service charge. Blog accounts of original council tenants suggest many felt ‘in need priority tenants’ who didn’t pay service charges (and had behaviour issues) led to the demise of the infamous Ferrier Estate, the part of ‘upmarket SE3’ that everyone would like to forget.

    Millions wasn’t spent decontaminating the Peninsula for a big housing estate. Its location meant Tory and Labour governments always had bigger plans for here and Royal Docks. Remember, Tony Blair wanted to put a super casino here (which I reckon will happen one day). The Peninsula was always earmarked as an entertainment hub facing financial districts. The JRF documented that ‘private’ families moving into GMV was a surprise as they weren’t even the target market. Why the GLA told me the playground is only now going to being delivered with phase 3 homes – a ‘recent’ Section 106 add-on from 2008(!).

    The viability issue can be interpreted two ways. Lots of people will pay a premium to cut their work commute. Demand to live in the Peninsula is high (I rented my flat out in 2hrs during fears of ‘triple dip’ recession). Though private renters also tell me they can’t afford to buy here, especially with restrained mortgage lending.

    As for ‘greedy developers’ well, the ‘social landlord’ turns profits too with tax breaks and CEO paid more then PM. Their practice and commitment to landlord obligations has in the past been questioned, by key community stakeholders as well as residents and others. As ex-councillor, Mary knows more on this but now 15yrs on, issues are finally better dealt with.

    On ‘greedy developers,’ are we homeowners, landlords and renters greedy too as we buy these properties at market price? Housing is a market and buyers/renters choose where they live against affordability. No one likes to be socially engineered, not least social tenants. Realistically, it is hard to force ‘consumers’ buying/renting at market rates to live next to those who don’t (and those who don’t even pay rent or tax). How successful for housebuilding was Ken Livingstone’s 50% affordable housing diktat?

    You see the liberal ‘thinking’ Guardian journalists and housing campaigners talk a lot of ‘affordable housing’ but not of the detail. I can only assume it’s because they have no knowledge of mixed tenure in practice, perhaps likely as they don’t – or even won’t live in it themselves?

    Finally on the Peninsula. This Summer we will have had new bars and restaurants, Urban Village Fete, cycling fixtures, outdoor cinema, art gallery, Jetty art performances, art exhibits on the Thames Path, golf driving ranges opening and maybe more. So the Peninsula is finally slowly coming of age – and events are public for everyone across Greenwich and beyond. Perhaps making sure these amenities, and outstanding inclusive schools which offer all local kids routes into future tech industries, are open for everyone to enjoy – rather focusing on a lucky handful who get housed here, actually means more for ‘community?’

  18. EssKay

    Thudd – you ask how we found ourselves in this situation. It’s pretty simple really – the current (and growing) levels of inequality are basically a reversion to the historical norm.

    The levelling of the playing field experienced in the 20th century was essentially a historical aberration – fuelled to a large degree by the decimation of the workforce (and hence increase in bargaining power) after each of the two world wars. This, coupled with cheap energy from fossil fuels and various technological advances led to an unprecedented (and perhaps unrepeatable) period of growth and increasing living standards for everyone – including relatively cheap, affordable housing.

    Unfortunately, this growth started to falter in the 1970s and as far as equality is concerned, it’s been pretty much downhill ever since (with a few blips due to early inflows from globalisation and the growth of the internet)

    All of this has left us with a situation where wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of an ever decreasing number of people who due to a lack of “yield” in productive investments (stocks/shares) are increasingly bidding up the prices of unproductive assets (land/houses), making these increasingly unaffordable for the rest of us who are left fighting over the scraps.

    The frictions seen in mixed tenure developments are just a symptom of the wider problem. Forcing private owner/occupiers to share buildings and subsidise social tenants will inevitably lead to resentment and mistrust on both sides.

    Of course, what we should all be asking is why are all of us increasingly worse off and why can’t the politicians offer us any hope of a brighter future?

  19. Trevor Allman

    Shivanee: I’ll pass my “luck” onto you at any time. Instead of feeding on your prejudices, might be an idea to know about a person’s circumstances before making such an inane comment.

    Also, you have reached the totally wrong assumption that I well connected with Greenwich Council.
    As I am a Socialist, and rocked the boat when I was a Councillor (1986-1990), I was/am certainly not viewed as a friend of Greenwich Council or its administration, then or now.
    I stand up for the underdog, those whom some appear to despise, yet without whom they would have to get their dainty fingers sullied if they didn’t have them to do their dirty work for them.

    What this blog and the comments have exposed is that the rhetoric that we are “one nation” is a complete fallacy, and that some of those with a few extra crumbs feel themselves as somehow superior to those who the capitalist system has crapped on the most.
    Our masters must be congratulated on the successful propagation of that ideology.

    But remember, you’re not that superior. We’re all dead in the end.

  20. Trevor Allman

    As this comment thread has had plenty of prejudice and scapegoating (for that is what it is) for housing problems thrown at the door of social housing tenants (those who are least able to defend ourselves, the usual targets of scapegoating and bullying), we could play “Devil’s Advocate” and advance another popular theory that is burgeoning in our society (but which I don’t adhere to) and blame immigrants for housing problems (and other social ills).

    There are those who would adhere to that belief (and they’re certainly not all social housing tenants) who would actually point at the likes of Shivanee as being the “lucky” one, for this country allowing his parents into the country, allowing them to live amongst the “indigenous” population and enabling them to create a better life.

    There are those who would propose the theory that the likes of Shivanee and his family should not live amongst “us”, and have a decent home (a bit like some proposing social housing tenants shouldn’t live among home owners) because of “cultural” differences.

    So perhaps we could turn the focus away from the poorest in this society as being the equivalent to Lepers, and scapegoat immigrants (though equally not to blame for the ruinous housing policies of successive governments) instead?

    But then again, perhaps that won’t have much of a take up, as certain groups aren’t criticised in “polite society” (and rightly so) but it is seemingly open season and acceptable to attack the poorest, the sick and disabled.

    Hypocrisy ?

  21. EssKay

    Trevor- for someone railing against injustice and prejudice, your last post came across as pretty prejudiced.

    As I pointed out in my last post, we’re all increasingly worse off as a result of the increasing concentration of wealth/power in the hands of the 1% – we should be asking why that is and what can be done about it to give us ALL a better standard of living

    Whilst I disagree with some of Shivanee’s points, she provides a lot examples of why there can be friction between owner/occupiers and social tenants in mixed tenure blocks. How about addressing some of the points she raised?

  22. Darryl Chamberlain

    Sadly, it takes two seconds for this debate to descend into desperate arse-covering as people defend their own personal circumstances, which aren’t really central to the discussion at all.

    Yet I do believe that if another minority group were talked about in the terms social housing tenants have been in this thread, there’d have been an outcry. “When will the reasonable social housing tenants condemn the bad ones?”

  23. Trevor Allman

    Esskay: If you read carefully what I said, I put forward those points as a “Devil’s Advocate” and think I made it perfectly clear they are not my beliefs.

    As for Darryl’s point about “social housing tenants condemning the bad ones”, as I have social housing tenants living above me and on both sides, I have confronted them as well as gone through the official channels when they act in an anti-social manner.
    And I have also been at the forefront of groups consisting of social tenants and home owners in dealing with anti-social elements that have lived in this road in the 41 years I have lived here.
    Nobody should accept anti-social behaviour from anyone, regardless of their home ownership status, race, religion, sex, sexuality or social class.

    And I apologise for my part in making this about personal circumstances, but I do feel rather offended at being seen as some sort of sub-human underclass. Some will want me wearing a yellow star in public next.

  24. Shivanee

    Trevor, my parents were invited to work in this country in the NHS, and brought us here with job offer so can assure you we didn’t ‘take’ anyone’s council house, since they never asked. Though I do recall the nasty tabloid headlines from the 1980s on areas a stone throw from the Peninsula, and have heard such comments, as did my parents from those who wore their prejudices with pride rather than kept them in the closet.

    The issue of who gets social housing always has and still does create division. As I repeatedly stated, it is not council housing. The current ‘affordable housing’ policy is based on ideology rather than sound economics and pragmatic policy. There are other more sustainable and cohesive models such as the much ignored Lib Dem’s ‘Rent to Own’ which I think may be introduced on the Peninsula (saw a billboard here) . Critically, this and shared ownership will give tenants the opportunity to own a stake in their home, and arguably, have a stake in the community.

    EssKay is exactly right. The postwar period was a historical anomaly as a respected sociologist explained to me when I worked on the Milburn Social Mobility review. The ‘golden age’ of jobs and housing for everyone was created with post-war optimism and Marshall Aid for mass public works and is unlikely to be repeated. Though no politician or media outlet – left or right wing will ever admit that. I would add, as global educational advancement and technological change intensifies, change is inevitable and will come faster.

    Darryl has posed the critical question that residents in mixed tenure developments so often wearily ask. How are we, as a collective living together, supposed to resolve issues and hold the Social Landlord to account, when some of those also affected stay silent and don’t engage? It’s easy to be offended but the problem is much harder to solve.

  25. Trevor Allman

    From what I have read, the term “Shared Ownership” is a misnomer. The property always remains the property of the landlord unless you buy it outright. Have read numerous articles in which tenants (for that is what they remain under “shared ownership”) can be evicted if they get behind on rent payments, and have no recourse to claim back the down payment they had made.

    The lack of accountability of social landlords (housing associations) is something that has always aggrieved me, being an HA tenant. Whilst nobody would claim councils are perfect, you do, at least in theory, have the ability to hold them to account via elected councillors. With HA’s you have nobody. I had gone to Mr Nick Raynsford MP numerous times about issues that I could not get resolved. It took the Council’s Environmental Health Department to threaten my landlord with legal action to get matters resolved.

    I don’t know about now, but in my time as a Councillor, there were some very active Resident’s Associations, with some first class activists, who did a great job of holding councillors to account, and got things done.

    The death of the Secure Tenancy could well be the reason some social housing tenants may not have the feeling they have a stake in the community in which they live. Assured Tenancies do not give them the same protection and it is much easier for them to lose their homes.
    Also being looked upon by some as “Social Lepers” another. Treat people like scum and they’ll oblige.

    Any left winger worth the name will recognise that the social progress after World War 2 was an anomaly with what had been before. The Proletariat had just been through a war, made massive sacrifices and were not about to allow the Ruling Class to betray the promise of “A land fit for heroes” as they had done after World War 1. Hence the Labour victory of 1945.
    And given there were a large section of the Proletariat skilled in the art of warfare, and there was a great deal of sympathy for the Soviet Union among the masses on this island after the war, our masters were in no position to renege a second time.
    Whilst our masters are now reaping their revenge by slowly destroying those gains, they would be foolish to believe they have won a final ideological victory.
    To quote Marx – “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”.
    That fact remains so.