Housing demo, London, 13.3.16, photo James Ivens

Housing demo, London, 13.3.16, photo James Ivens   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Matt Harrison

In June, hundreds of residents living in the Washdyke estate flats in Immingham were shocked to find out that Shoreline, the housing association that North-East Lincolnshire Labour council has outsourced social housing to, had drawn up plans to empty and later demolish their town centre homes in a two-phase project.

Because the ‘consultation’ period ends later this month, local Socialist Party members have now leafleted for two Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) public meetings each attended by over 30 Washdyke residents.

Chairing the first meeting, Dave Mitchell stressed that TUSC wanted to ensure that residents, no matter what their personal preference for or against demolition, should receive personal assurances from Shoreline that the financial package would be without strings and residents would not be re-housed outside of their preferred area.

TUSC guest speaker Val O’Flynn relayed her own personal experience of Shoreline Housing and explained that their demolition and dispersal policy was driven by Tory government policies and the Labour council’s outsourcing and cuts.

Questions from residents ranged from a young couple who were naturally concerned about their future accommodation, to tenants who had lived in the flats for years and didn’t want to move, to an elderly couple in their nineties who were happy to take Shoreline’s offer of £5,000 and live with family.

At the second meeting, residents were furious that apart from local Labour town councillor Dave Barton, no other Labour town or district councillors attended. People were also calling for Shoreline to be replaced as the social housing provider and the council to take it back in-house, for the council to build more council houses, and the mood was very much up for a fight. Towards this end, Washdyke residents are setting up a steering committee with at least one representative from each block.

At our next meeting, Shoreline are coming to explain themselves. Should be interesting!

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 19 August 2016 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.