Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/26628

Posted on 14 December 2017 at 20:55 GMT

Waltham Forest redevelopment meeting, 13.12.17

Waltham Forest redevelopment meeting, 13.12.17   (Click to enlarge)

Waltham Forest: Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, Waltham Forest Socialist Party

What was the point? That's what the hundreds of people who attended Waltham Forest council's planning committee on 13 December will have been thinking when they left - after 10.30pm! What was the point of the three hours in a hot room? What was the point of the well-researched, well-formulated, well-argued objections from ten speakers from the borough? What was the point of electing councillors? The officers basically said that councillors must dance to the developers' tune because Tory legislation and Sadiq Khan's plan for London demand it.

The Socialist Party rejects this 100%. We want councillors who stand up for us - not for the spivs and speculators gathering like vultures over our borough.

Sadiq Khan's London plan means the city has the smell of fresh prey for them. We say that instead we need our elected representatives to end the social cleansing of London's poor and working class. We now have to fight for homes for people, not profit.

The planning committee meeting was farcical but it showed that there is enormous anger in the borough over this plan.

It will reduce the open space at the top of the street market by a third. 81 trees will be cut down from the town square.

Some buildings around the proposed 29-storey monster blocks will get two hours of daylight (deemed good). One report that was cited said that the wind created by these buildings will mean that some seating areas will not be suitable for prolonged sitting! It will be uncomfortable for leisurely strolling.

The children's play area will be reduced (described as an advancement by the officers!).

And in a borough with approximately 2,000 people in housing need, in this development of new homes the councillors voted that only 20% will be affordable. Except it's not even that good! 20% will be available for shared ownership - available to single people or couples with a combined income of up to 90,000! We need homes - council homes.

When Nancy Taaffe of the Socialist Party said this, it got a big cheer in the hall. A number of objectors who spoke called for a rethink, for homes for those in need, not this "land grab of public space to expand the profit of a private company" as campaigner David Gardner so eloquently put it.

And what was particularly galling was to see Tory councillors, whose leaders launched the sell-off of council homes, whose party has pushed through the rotten to the core Housing and Planning Act, able to appear more radical and more on the side of working class and hard-pressed middle class people than the Blairite Labour councillors who voted 100% for this scandalous plan.

Labour councillors stand condemned by this. Two of the Labour councillors on the planning committee - Marie Pye and Steve Terry - did not even show up to this important meeting, with no explanation offered.

Linda Taaffe, Waltham Forest TC and Socialist Party, speaking to campaigners and residents

Linda Taaffe, Waltham Forest TC and Socialist Party, speaking to campaigners and residents   (Click to enlarge)

Campaigners and residents came to present their objections in good faith. They and the 948 people who had taken the time to respond to the council's consultation and the 2,015 people who have signed the petition, represent the majority in the borough who oppose this scheme.

As campaigner Jean Duggleby said: "The people who have been to consultations had been gagged". She had spoken to around 5,000 people in the course of her impressive campaign against the monster block plan and had only found around ten in favour.

Labour councillor Jenny Grey, in the chair, defended developer Capital & Regional getting five minutes to speak while objectors received a strict three minutes.

But Nancy told them that the community will not treat them with such deference: "To Capital and Regional here in the hall - this is just the start. We intend to be your worst nightmare."

She also said: "Sadiq Khan is a disgrace for putting forward the London plan and for saying that outer London areas can have up to 45 tall buildings.

"We support Corbyn and we want council housing and we want the money out of the taxes from the rich."

A Socialist Party member shouted out at one point to ask why the council didn't disregard regulations that prevented it building what was needed and listening to the public demands.

A councillor sought advice from the officers on this - big trouble was the answer. That makes things clear - for the campaign to be successful we have to pile the pressure on to the councillors and if they don't recall the vote then they need to be replaced by public representatives who see representing the public as their role.

Nancy talked about the housing rebellions all across the country. She said it's good to have good neighbours and "we have Haringey where Labour councillors have been deselected for pushing through a similar development.

"The May elections are coming upon us. We have the power to vote you in and we have the power to vote you out."

She gave the example of Liverpool socialist-led Labour council in the 1980s that showed how an alternative is possible - it built 5,000 council homes in defiance of Thatcher.

Anger expressed

By the end of the meeting the audience was in full rebellion mode. Angry laughter, heckling and rebuttals of every claim rang out around the room.

Waltham Forest's women were especially vocal. When one of the councillors standing in for Pye and Terry tried to argue that we didn't need to worry about increased pressure on the tube as the development would provide local jobs (only 15% guaranteed for the borough's residents!) people shouted that they would be low-paid retail jobs.

We had had enough of their fudges and lies. At 10.11pm Councillor Keith Rayner asked if the vote even included the tower blocks (planning in outline rather than in detail). The answer was yes - but the developers can work out the detail afterwards!

Committee chair Jenny Grey threatened to take the vote into the back room if people didn't quieten down. "Go then, go into the shadows", was the shout that came back.

A Socialist Party member had earlier made the call for a 'people's vote', which was taken after the councillors voted 4:1 in favour of the rotten pro-profiteer, anti-housing provision plan. Our vote was unanimous in opposition.

People were angry, but also shocked, even in tears at the sense of helplessness that people we elected, in Jeremy Corbyn's party, could ignore so many people with so many good arguments.

As Linda Taaffe, Socialist Party member and chair of Waltham Forest trades council said about the victory of Butterfields tenants a year ago: you only win in the court/town hall what you've already won on the streets. Now the campaign must organise and take the challenge to this pointless council.

Two nights before, local campaigners from the Housing Action Network, set up by the trades council (HAN), and the Stop the Monster Block and others who organised the lobby, also discussed what they would do if the meeting went against us.

We decided to launch an appeal; investigate a judicial review; and build the campaign. The HAN distributed a leaflet inviting everyone who wants to fight on to reconvene on 11 January at 7.30pm in the William Morris Community centre. It ain't over!


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 14 December 2017 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.






Related links:

Waltham Forest:

triangleWe must fight all council cuts!

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: The national question

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: The rise of Militant

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: Report from Socialist Party congress

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: 100 years of voting for women of property

Councillors:

triangleCorbyn's Labour needs 100% anti-cuts strategy and fight for democracy

trianglePacked Newham meeting against academies

triangleNewham academy strikes spread to Cumberland school

triangleBradford protest against children's service cuts

Council:

triangleCarlisle debate: The way forward - Socialism or Social Democracy?

triangleOpinion: foster care is work - carers deserve workers' rights

triangleLobby pushes Liverpool council to oppose privatisation

Homes:

triangleNo to the Woolwich monster block

triangleDebate: should tower blocks form part of socialist housing policy?

Socialist Party:

triangleSouth-East London Socialist Party: USA - Resisting Trump and fighting for socialism

Housing:

triangleHeating scandal on east London estate

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

22/1/18

Sudan

Sudan: Free Mohamed Satti

22/1/18

London

Women rally defiantly

22/1/18

Obituary

Red Mary - a Force of Nature

17/1/18

Women

Socialist Party women's meeting brings together members to share experiences

17/1/18

Newham

Packed Newham meeting against academies

17/1/18

Liverpool

Lobby pushes Liverpool council to oppose privatisation

17/1/18

Barking

Heating scandal on east London estate

17/1/18

Policing

Undercover policing legal challenge

17/1/18

Woolwich

No to the Woolwich monster block

17/1/18

Union

Workplace news in brief

17/1/18

Union

PCS union 2018 elections - nominate the left slate for a continued fighting leadership

17/1/18

Hackney

Hackney school cleaners strike

17/1/18

RMT

RMT strikes against driver-only operation continue

17/1/18

Yorkshire

Ferrybridge: Workers down tools over unpaid wages

17/1/18

Cuts

We must fight all council cuts!

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle22 Jan Women rally defiantly

triangle22 Jan Red Mary - a Force of Nature

triangle17 Jan Corbyn's Labour needs 100% anti-cuts strategy and fight for democracy

triangle17 Jan NHS crisis: under pressure from all angles - end cuts and sell-offs!

triangle17 Jan We must fight all council cuts!

triangle16 Jan Home care workers to strike

triangle15 Jan Carillion crisis: Demand action to save jobs and services

More ...

triangle23 Jan Bristol North Socialist Party: 'You can't have capitalism without racism' - was Malcolm X correct?

triangle23 Jan Cardiff West Socialist Party: How the Poll Tax was beaten

triangle24 Jan Caerphilly Socialist Party: The Carillion scandal

triangle24 Jan Cardiff Central Socialist Party: Carillion collapse - Watershed moment for public services

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2