Mike Cleverly, Waltham Forest Socialist Party
It was the day Nadia had been dreading. On 29 June, the bailiffs were coming to put her, her three children and her belongings out on the street.
She has lived in Walthamstow, east London, for 38 years, and her children attend a local school. Every avenue to protect her home and children has been explored. Originally, the best Waltham Forest Labour council offered was a temporary home in Stoke-on-Trent, where this single mum of three has no family, friends or support.
On 29 June, we were outside Nadia’s home to resist the bailiffs. Our 80 ‘eviction resisters’ were pensioners, disabled people, young renters and Socialist Party members. The protest was called by the Socialist Party and supported by Waltham Forest Trades Council, the body that coordinates the unions in the borough.
The landlord’s agent came to inform us that the eviction would not happen that day, because of the number of people outside. Nadia will get a new eviction date, but we said we will be back with similar numbers whatever day they choose.
We will not be moved. We will not let the bailiffs pass.
A Labour councillor said the best the council’s housing department can now offer Nadia is one bedroom in a shared house in another London borough, Redbridge. Nadia rejected this as it’s unsuitable for her and her three children.
Many people are shocked that this can happen in one of the world’s richest cities. But Nadia’s case is not unusual.
Thousands of families, with their roots in London, are being transported miles away. This is the result of decades of austerity by Labour and Tory governments.
The sale of council homes, and the stock transfer of council housing to housing associations, has decimated housing that families like Nadia can afford. It is horrifying to realise that this Labour council treats such families no different to how they’re treated by Tory councils.
In the streets around where Nadia lives there are plenty of empty homes. On 27 June, Waltham Forest Socialist Party publicised the scandal of empty homes with a ‘pavement walk’ to blocks of flats standing empty in mockery of families living in cramped, damp accommodation.
In some cases, they have been on the 9,000-long waiting list for many years. We heard about families pushed around temporary accommodation for years, with children not knowing which school they will attend from one term to another.
We held an ‘open mic’, then walked the short distance to the nearest group of tower blocks. Our demands – ‘house the homeless’ and ‘take over empty homes’ – were echoed by the people we met.
Nadia will not be moved
At the eviction protest, Nadia spoke to particularly thank Socialist Party member Nancy Taaffe. Nadia met Nancy on one of our Socialist Party campaign stalls a year ago.
She remembered Nancy as someone with a fighting record locally. Nadia turned to her after getting nowhere with the councillors and Walthamstow Labour MP Stella Creasy.
This struggle is for Nadia and her children, but we know that there are thousands of cases pending, many in Waltham Forest and across every city in the country as the eviction amnesty is brought to an end. These families must not be left to fight on alone.