The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition stands for rent control and building council housing, credit: Waltham Forest TUSC (uploaded 26/11/2014)
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition stands for rent control and building council housing, credit: Waltham Forest TUSC (uploaded 26/11/2014)

Ellen Kenyon Peers, Waltham Forest Socialist Party

There are 63,000 Londoners in temporary accommodation. Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s housing strategy has started building 20,000 homes by 2024, far less than the 100,000 needed to keep up with demand. Council housing stock has been depleted by right to buy, poor maintenance, chronic underfunding by central government and councils pushing the redevelopment of council homes into a mixture of private and ‘social rent’ properties – neither of which are affordable for the majority of residents.


Nancy Taaffe, selected by Waltham Forest Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) to stand in Walthamstow in the upcoming general election, and chair of the Save Our Square E17 campaign, wrote to local Labour MP Stella Creasy. Nancy asked for support in stopping the unsafe, unaffordable ‘monster blocks’ being built in Walthamstow town centre. Creasy, who previously campaigned against Jeremy Corbyn while he was Labour leader, absolved herself of any responsibility by claiming she had no jurisdiction over planning regulations, despite the blocks being approved by a Labour council.

The blocks, 34 and 26 storeys high respectively, dwarf the surrounding architecture and do not comply with post-Grenfell safety regulations to have two staircases in buildings over 30 metres high. To add insult to injury, despite being built on public land, the 495 new flats will be for private rent, leading to more money in greedy developers’ pockets instead of the public purse where it could be reinvested in local infrastructure.

The shady deals don’t stop there; despite promises of a new entrance to Walthamstow Central tube station to ease congestion at peak times, it seems developer Long Harbour will no longer be footing the estimated £5 million bill, instead passing this cost onto us, the taxpayers.

Although Creasy wasn’t prepared to stick up for local residents when it concerned their safety, she has recently had a change of heart on housing campaigns – perhaps in light of the approaching general election – and is now advocating for a leasehold ban. No one should have to pay unfair, escalating fees on leasehold homes. With an estimated 10,000 people on the waiting list for council housing in Waltham Forest alone, we need political representatives that will fight for affordable homes for all. That should include rent caps and compulsory purchase orders of the flats and houses lying empty in our densely populated borough. 

But it’s not just building new homes that a socialist in City Hall would fight for. Nancy Taaffe is standing for the Greater London Authority in the North East constituency on 2 May. She has a long history of campaigning for local residents and their housing needs. During the ‘Butterfields Won’t Budge!’ campaign she, alongside the Socialist Party branch, supported 63 residents resisting eviction which ultimately resulted in 49 homes being purchased by a housing association.

Poor housing = poor health

We also need better maintenance of existing housing stock. In January, the Royal College of Physicians called on Michael Gove, Tory housing minister, to crackdown on landlords who fail to fix Britain’s mouldy homes. We know that Tory and Labour MPs and councillors are in the pockets of landlords – a lot of them are landlords themselves! Gove has since caved in to lobbying and the Renters Reform Bill has been massively watered down.

So, in May, instead of voting for candidates who might make concessions for ordinary working-class people, why not vote ordinary, working-class candidates into power who will fight for us? 

Southampton housing situation is a disgrace

Karen Rogers, Southampton Socialist Party

The housing situation in Southampton is terrible. I am aware of council housing in the city that is empty, hence these properties fall into disrepair. With the housing shortage so pressing, this is disgraceful.

People also live in council and private rental properties that are damp and mouldy, and have other issues. Private tenants fear reporting these issues, because of Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions.

The Tory government had pledged to abolish ‘no-fault’ evictions in their manifesto. But many MPs are themselves landlords, who serve their own interests. Yet another manifesto pledge broken, and it is the working class who suffer.

It is time to build more social housing, that must stay as social housing, and build more affordable homes.

What sort of society lets children go hungry, and closes care homes? People cannot get a doctor’s appointment, mental health and wellbeing is in short supply from an overstretched and poorly managed NHS.

Time to stop the fat cats getting fatter, and empower ourselves for a positive impact.

Karen Rogers is the TUSC candidate in Banister & Polygon. TUSC is standing 17 candidates, across every single ward in Southampton.