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Form "International Tribunal on Evictions”

Sunday 29 September 2013 11:34:19 pm

General Information

United Kingdom
London
Clapham Town, Stockwell, Gypsy Hill
Members of so-called 'shortlife' housing co-operatives established in London Borough of Lambeth for 40 years.

Description of case of forced evictions

1 (already taken place)
Anyone who does not leave their home under threat of legal action is threatened with eviction. There is a rehousing facility but if no suitable houses are offered then this runs out and people are evicted. So far, one person could not face the bailiffs coming round and stayed with a friend, so you could say that is an eviction that has already taken place. Two others had evictions that were only postponed due to direct action by supporters and the activities of Lambeth United Housing Co-operative, the umbrella group for these 'shortlife' housing co-operatives. Lambeth Council will not actually state how many evictions have taken place but they say that 110 possession notices have been issued. So many others could find themselves on the point of eviction and it is only local activism that is saving them from forced eviction, ultimately, of course, everyone is having to leave their home in this process, with legal defences so far unsuccessful Many of the houses being offered us are in a worse condition that the ones that we are being forced to leave. In terms of our current houses, we are talking about houses that were Compulsory Purchase Ordered in the 1970s for a few thousand pounds by the council and then left to rot. The houses were then squatted which was tolerated by the council because they knew the people moving in would maintain the houses and they could not afford to. Housing co-operatives were formed and essentially repaired and maintained this housing stock with little or no involvement from the council. Now, 40 years later they want to sell the houses off on the open market, at auction, forcing people out, some of who have lived in their homes since the 1970s and are in their 70s.
When the latest process of 'shortlife recall' was started in 2011 there were 170 homes effected (over 400 people) and we are now down to under 50 (so around 100 people). Likely male - female split is 60-40 originally, probably about 50-50 now. Children are effected but have no percentage available.
Officially the council say it is to plug a shortfall in the grant from central government for council housing repairs. Unofficially we believe that social cleaning is taking place and the demographic of our communities is changing with people being priced out of the area and now literally shipped out of the area. The Neighbourhood Enhancement Programmes that the council is currently effecting add more weight to the idea that they are socially landscaping the borough.
Feb 2013, eviction of female co-op resident who decides to move in with a friend. April 4 2013, Andy Carstairs was assured by Lambeth's Cabinet member for housing Cllr Pete Robbins and one of his local councillors, Nigel Haselden, that he would not be evicted from his home, however, the bailiffs were not told this and he was evicted. Due to subsequent media pressure a suitable offer of rehousing was made to him a few weeks later. July 7th 2013, threatened eviction of 74-year-old basketball coach and community leader Jimmy Rogers. Eviction only postponed because of large group of protestors who were going to mobilise. Council backed down, situation still pending. 19 September 2013, threatened eviction of vulnerable resident Charmain Lodge is cancelled because of a delegation to the town hall of local supporters and fellow shortlifers. Charmain now has until November 1 to find suitable alternative accommodation. The situation is ongoing and more people will face the threat of eviction.
The damages are many. There is extreme psychological, and consequentially physical, pressure and one man collapsed four days before his trial in April with a heart attack. He is now recovering in a hospital but is still barely able to speak or move. A number of women who moved from their houses reported suffering from depression after the enforced move. Meanwhile, physical damage has actually been caused to the houses by the council's contractors who come in to 'secure' houses before they are used by vacant property managers and then sold off to developers who have made further damage by ruining original features of listed buildings.
Psychological as above. Children and young adults have been alarmed at the stress suffered by their parents and many who have grown up in these homes have found it hard to understand why they are having to move away. One woman was moved into a house where there was asbestos and this has caused her great anxiety about her health and that of her children.
The London Borough of Lambeth

Support, measures taken and follow up

sì (yes: which?)
Kate Hoey MP, Lambeth Save Our Services, The Green Party, local Liberal Democrat and Conservative councillors, Labour Party councillors who are happy to defy their party line, many in the co-operative movement including the Co-operative Enterprise Hub. Many residents also have solicitors, some one legal aid some not. Local people are supportive and among them Vivienne Westwood and John Pilger have voclaised their opposition to these evictions.
Direct action such as sending delegations to the town hall for an audience with the council leader, Lib Peck. Use of the local press. Demonstrations at auction viewings, lobbying all levels of politicans, local, regional, national.
We are a close community and offer evictees as much help and support as we can. We have lobbied councillors and officers by email, by phone and ace-to-face. We utilise lawyers and politicians where possible and other advocates where available.
Compensation claims would need to be made through the courts and many claimants would not have the finances for this.
extra (yes: which?)
Our organisation, Lambeth United Housing Co-op has been proposing a co-operative solution since last year which has been backed by a number of social housing experts and co-operative bodies such as the Co-operative Enterprise Hub.
Lambeth Council has not proposed any viable solutions to this distress and have actively avoided facilitating a social housing solution as proposed by Lambeth United Housing Co-operative, so much so that they have hijacked agendas of meetings between us, denied minutes of meetings to be properly made and reused to answer direct questions on the legal nature of their actions and suppositions. They say that they offered us the right to buy our houses but this option was well beyond the means of the majority of our members.
There is an ongoing series of demonstrations and lobbying activities that change depending on the state of the threat to members.
Everyone subjected to this process is going on a slightly different timetable so they could run into rehousing problems at any time, many of us have trials that are either going to happen later this year (one this week) or next year.

Details of the person registering information

Julian Hall
'Shortlife' resident under threat of eviction and campaigner against evictions
Member of Rectory Gardens Housing Community and also of Lambeth United Housing Co-operative
29 Rectory Gardens, London SW4 0EE
United Kingdom
07810 486658
juleshall@hotmail.com
www.lambethunitedhousingco-op.org.uk
English

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