Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/353/5835
Socialist Councillors Fight Housing Crisis
LEWISHAM'S SOCIALIST Party councillors Chris Flood and Ian Page have opposed all attempts to sell off their council's housing stock. You cannot rely on the 'market' to meet ordinary people's housing needs.
They are now demanding urgent action from local councils to tackle the capital's housing crisis. London has gone from being the world's seventh most expensive city to the second in just a year, largely because of high accommodation costs and housing shortages.
Ian and Chris have a resolution at Lewisham council's July meeting saying they should consider using compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) on private properties left empty for long periods to turn them into social housing.
Lewisham is one of the few London boroughs that doesn't carry out CPOs, despite having the sixth highest number of empty homes in the London area (about 2.72% of the total housing stock).
Chris wrote a letter to the local press pointing out that:
"CPOs are only one aspect of a much needed overall policy required to tackle the housing crisis... Lewisham Labour Council group had an opportunity to at least vote in principle to support CPO's at the last full council meeting, but failed to do so, saying it could not be afforded.
The cost of buying a house is becoming increasingly out of reach for many people, at a time when social housing is becoming more difficult to access. This is why the two Socialist Party Councillors on Lewisham Council are also opposing any attempts to reduce the affordable housing stock further.
Cynically the Labour majority are promoting the options of Private Finance Initiative, Arms Length Management Organisations and Stock Transfer, all privatisation options under another guise.
What they are failing to tell the public is that there is a fourth option, that of publicly owned, democratically run and properly funded housing.
Funny how Lewisham council could afford to award £75,000 in recent weeks to a private company to 'search' for homes for people.
Or maybe Lewisham Council want to go down the road of their March 'Affordable Homes Symposium', in which 'a solution was offered as to how to go about increasing the density of Lewisham's housing stock by developing on some of the large parks that are not in use because of the fear of crime.'
Yes it sounds ridiculous but so is leaving buildings empty when people need homes."
In The Socialist 26 June 2004:
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