Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/324/9612
Lewisham by-election 4 December
Fight The Cuts
MANY PEOPLE in Telegraph Hill ward are really fed up with the penny-pinching way that New Labour runs Lewisham council. They are pleased to have the chance to elect health worker Chris Flood as the ward's second Socialist Party councillor.
You can see this clearly on the local council estates. Socialist Party councillor Ian Page led the Save Lewisham Housing Campaign in 1999. This stopped the Labour council selling off 7,500 flats and houses but the battle to maintain decent public sector housing continues.
Since then Socialist Party councillors and members have campaigned alongside Honor Oak estate residents to win £14 million-worth of refurbishment.
Some properties on Honor Oak have since been found to have asbestos. Lewisham council knew about this - but they have the insolence to try to charge leaseholders (people who have bought their own council home) up to £11,000 to remove the asbestos.
The council want ordinary residents to foot the bill for their stupidity. Socialist Party candidate Chris Flood says: "The council should fund the costs of removing asbestos - they built the houses and sold them to former tenants without telling them of the dangers. The money should not come from the leaseholders or from the tenants' refurbishment programme."
On Kender estate many tenants have been transferred to housing association (HA) property. As the Socialist Party warned, the HAs have put all their rents up sharply, given many tenants smaller flats and lumbered them with water meters and ultra-expensive heating systems.
Meanwhile those who stayed with the council find their homes are only being maintained up to the legal minimum standard. Ian Page told the socialist: "Tenants suffer from the council's penny-pinching contracts. Contractors are leaving places undecorated and with holes in the wall because repairs like this are not in their contract with the tight-fisted council.
"Even workers on the contracts say they should be allowed to finish the decorations but that's not happening - the budgets are so tight because the council are accepting the government-imposed cuts."
Together with tenants' and pensioners' activist Bob Gardiner, local tenants have fought back, occupying the Housing Association office to get their concerns discussed at a meeting. Bob and other local people are helping the Socialist Party get Chris Flood elected as our second councillor in Telegraph Hill ward.
As Ian says: "Everywhere there are people coming together to fight the council cuts and organising to defend services. They need the political alternative that the Socialist Party can provide."
If you want to help Chris Flood and the Socialist Party win this vital by-election, please ring the Socialist Party at 020 8988 8777.
In The Socialist 22 November 2003: