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Oppose Social Cleansing On West Hendon Estate

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

GMB Welcome Barnet Labour Group Opposition To Tory Compulsory “Social Cleansing” On West Hendon Estate To Make Way For Better Off Residents

Residents on council and other estates need to be warned they face a land grab as the property sector seeks land to develop and turn into expensive homes that neither tenants nor leaseholders can afford to rent or buy says GMB.

GMB welcome the new statement issued by the Labour Group on Barnet Council to ensure the West Hendon Estate residents in North London benefit from a promised regeneration and the threat to them being forced out of their homes is lifted.  See notes to editors for copy of Labour Group statement and for pdfs with statements by local councillors to a public inquiry on compulsory purchase of homes on the estate starting on 20th January as part of the regeneration.

Gary Doolan, GMB London region political officer, said “The manner in which residents, both social housing tenants and leaseholders facing compulsory purchase of their homes on the West Hendon Estate, have been treated is akin to treatment by a diabolical dictatorship. It is no wonder local people in Barnet have had enough.

It is now clear that the Tory council embarked with an agenda not to improve the existing housing stock or develop new affordable social housing units. Instead they are using the new Tory/ Liberal government legislation that allows the hiking of rents up to 80% of market rates which will result in private homes only being built for the well off.

These “smaller state” Tories plan to use the full powers of the state to kick out resident replacing them with an electorate that votes Tory.

This appalling hypocrisy smells of the kind of social cleansing of decent working class people and traditional labour voters from the London Borough of Barnet that resulted in prosecution of Dame Shirley Porter of Westminster many years ago in the “homes for votes” scandal.

GMB backs the Barnet Labour Councillors call for the Public Enquiry to investigate the proposed 80% rent increase for social housing tenants and the treatment of leaseholder’s  on the West Hendon Estate.

An 80% rent increase will only drive those in social housing out of the borough which seems to be the Tory councils aim. Those in Barnet's social housing will no longer be able to afford a rent increase of such magnitude being proposed by Tory Barnet Council, and the Tory's know it. These hikes in rent with the trivial compensation to leaseholders can only be seen as an attack on communities that are occupied by those who are low paid.

What is happening in West Hendon is not a “one off” it is what the Tories want to do with all council owned estates in London and the South East."

Eric Pickles, Tory Secretary of State for Local Government, said last year “Re-building and regenerating London’s housing estates will not be easy. But it must be done. London needs more and better homes and this Government believes there is an opportunity to look at a mass regeneration of our existing brownfield estates into new and attractive areas that house more people.”

So tenants and leaseholders living on council and other estates face a land grab as the property sector seeks land to develop and turn into expensive homes that neither tenants nor leaseholders can afford to rent or buy. This is the reality of what is underway at West Hendon Estate.

This means the unbelievable but dramatic threat that homes people now live in will be demolished to make way for this new expensive housing. This is a form of clearance.

GMB will actively take a hand to warn the 14,000 tenants and leaseholders in Barnet estates what the Tories plans are for their homes.”

End

Contact: Gary Doolan on: 020 7391 6748 or 07590 262504 or gary.doolan@gmb.org.uk or GMB press office 07921 289880

Notes to editors

News from Labour
London Borough of Barnet Labour Group
We’re on your side
For immediate release
6 January 2015

Labour supports residents’ case at West Hendon Public Enquiry

A two-week Public Enquiry into the regeneration of the West Hendon Estate has been granted to give residents the opportunity to bring their fight for fairness and justice against Barnet Council and developer Barratts before an independent Inspector. West Hendon Labour councillors Adam Langleben and Devra Kay will be there supporting residents and speaking on their behalf.  

Labour’s West Hendon councillors have submitted statements to the Public Enquiry into the West Hendon estate regeneration calling for Barnet council to treat residents living on the estate fairly. Residents had originally been balloted on a completely different scheme to the current plans, a scheme that included promises to provide every resident with a brand new home in the new development, provide a choice of where to move, provide residents with a real say in the regeneration and to buy homeowners properties at current housing prices. None of these promises are being kept.

Cllr Adam Langleben’s and Cllr Devra Kay’s submissions to the Public Enquiry which begins on 20 January detail that:

·         Only 250 of the new homes will be for social or ‘affordable’ rent – the original estate had 680 homes at social rent, and there are currently 449 social rented homes on the estate.  This means the new plans reduce the number of            social rented homes by 430 or 63% of what was there originally, and by 199 or 44% from what is currently on the estate.

·         Not all residents will be provided with a brand new home on the development.

·         Only secure tenants are being given a choice of landlord – a third of residents on the estate are non-secure tenants who have been living there for up to 12 years, but will not be re-housed in the new development, and may not                be re-housed in Barnet at all.

·         Residents are not being given a choice about where they move.

·         ‘Derisory’ purchase offers - Homeowners are not being offered current housing prices to compensate them for the loss of their homes – leaseholders are being offered approximately £170,000 for a two bedroom property when            the average house price for NW9 is around £388,000 (Zoopla index).

·         Major works are being undertaken while regeneration construction is underway contrary to what was promised – leaseholders are each facing bills for major works of tens of thousands of pounds in some cases even though                 their properties will shortly be demolished.

The West Hendon councillors are calling for Barnet council and the developer partner – Barratt Metropolitan – to ensure the West Hendon estate residents benefit from the regeneration and do not lose out. The submissions ask the Inspector to consider ways Barnet could remedy the problem including:

·         That the number of social homes provided by the regeneration are increased to re-house all current tenants.

·         That non-secure tenants are upgraded so they are not moved several times and are made up to 3 offers of rehousing.

·         That leaseholders are compensated with fair market house prices for the loss of their homes.

·         That leaseholders are given a fair repayment scheme on major works bills / LB Barnet meet the cost of electrical works that should have taken place ten years ago.

Cllr Adam Langleben said: “West Hendon’s residents have been betrayed by the council and the developer – none of the promises are being kept and Barnet are relying on a ballot of residents undertaken years ago on a totally different scheme as consent for a new scheme that does not meet local need. I really hope the Inspector will see this and instruct them to honour their original pledges.”

Cllr Devra Kay said: “This is not regeneration, it is re-development. The Conservative Council and developer Barratts put profit before people. Tenants and leaseholders are being treated disgracefully as they face an uncertain future.  The Enquiry will allow their case to be heard by an independent Inspector and we support them wholeheartedly."

Ends.
Notes:
1. Copies of both submissions by Cllrs Langleben & Kay are attached.

2. Details of the West Hendon estate enquiry can be found:

http://www.west-hendon.co.uk/how-will-it-affect-me_cp01-public-inquiry/

3. Details of Labour’s call to ensure a fair repayment scheme for leaseholders:

http://betterbarnet.nationbuilder.com/tories_spitefully_punish_leaseholders_in_vote_against
 

 

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Additional Resources

Submission by Cllr Langleben

download pdf200Kb (pdf) - 07 January 2015

Statement to the Inspector: The London Borough of Barnet

Submission By Cllr Kay

download docx33Kb (docx) - 07 January 2015

Statement To The Inspector: The London Borough of Barnet