Merton, South London
Housing – don’t trust Labour or Clarion
Clarion housing association boasts that it’s Britain’s largest landlord. It’s probably also the worst.
Viewers of the ITV News investigation might have been horrified by the condition of Clarion properties. Residents weren’t surprised.
Merton Council privatised its housing in 2010 with full support from Labour councillors. Rather than organising an efficient repairs service, they hoped someone else would take the blame and councillors could avoid responsibility — a shameful abdication of responsibility.
Within months of privatisation, Clarion reneged on its agreement with the council by raising rents from affordable social housing levels to near market heights. But Labour councillors failed to use their powers to stop this.
Clarion shares responsibility with the Labour council for some of the worst overcrowding in the country. Labour councillors will happily put a couple with a small child in a one-bedroom flat. There aren’t any social-rented properties at the flagship Plough Lane development. Labour’s idea of affordable housing is shared ownership with purchase prices of up to £645,000.
Labour councillors could use council land, reserves, and borrowing to build thousands of energy-efficient properties at low rents. This would start to tackle the 11,000 households on Merton’s waiting list, and the backlog of households who haven’t even made it onto the waiting list. The council is still dealing with applications from 2021!
Tenants, leaseholders and private tenants should have a democratic vote to decide whether they want to:
- Stay with Clarion (highly unlikely)
- Return to the council with a democratic housing committee elected by residents and housing workers
- Replace Clarion with another housing association
- Establish a democratically run local housing association
There is no place for managers on sky-high salaries, like Clarion chief exec Claire Miller who ‘earned’ £343,375, a bonus of £38,964 — for what? — and a car allowance of £10,000 in 2019-20.
Labour councillors could have used their powers to reverse this year’s rent increase. They could also help tackle the cost-of-living crisis with breakfast clubs and free school meals all year round.
Youth clubs, experienced youth workers and affordable leisure are also needed. But Labour councillors are the problem. Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) councillors would stand up to Clarion.
TUSC is standing April Ashley in Figge’s Marsh and Alex Forbes in Cricket Green
Southwark – The rich are buying up London
Charlie Kennedy, TUSC candidate in Borough & Bankside
As a final year student nurse, I see first-hand how the cuts hit the NHS hard. I see continuous staff shortages and burnout — understaffing and a lack of resources push overburdened health workers out.
I have witnessed the rush of staff to get enough done for their patients and the struggle to provide a high standard of family-centered care amid the lack of funding and support. For working people, this has meant surgery delays and a significantly lower quality of care than they deserve.
I see the impact that rising prices and stagnating wages have on working-class people, with many struggling to just afford basic essentials. In Southwark, there is a large council house waiting list and not enough homes, all while the wealthy buy up more and more property in London as ‘investment’.
This division has gone on long enough. The time is now for working people to stand up. We can make a real impact.
I may not be an experienced politician, but I am experienced in the struggle of ordinary people, and I have a passion to end austerity.
Camden centre closures hurt community
Nick Auvache, Camden and Haringey Socialist Party
Cuts are making life more difficult. The Caraf community centre has been open for 40 years, a lifeline, especially for local black children. It had also provided essential nursery care. It is now closing – workers will lose their jobs, and local people will lose this vital service.
The West Euston project was also forced to shut after 30 years, due to a £80,000 funding shortfall. This was another centre popular with young people seeking advice on finding work and training.
One Labour local councillor was honest enough to recognise that this was another example of “where the voluntary sector has been expected to do more in the face of local government cuts”. But what she and all of the other main austerity parties fail to mention is that these closures are not necessary.
The two TUSC candidates in Kentish Town — Farhana Manzoor and Hannah Power — stand out in condemning these closures, and have called on the council to reverse these appalling decisions by offering to continue to finance the centres.
They are the lifeblood of the local community. They are our jobs, they are our services, and as socialists we have no choice other than to defend them.
Epping Forest – there’s nothing left to cut
Ian Pattison and Bea Gardner, TUSC candidates Waltham Abbey Honey Lane and Waltham Abbey Paternoster
Rent, bills, fuel, food, council tax and National Insurance – everything is going up. We can’t afford the Tories’ 4.1% council tax hike. And we can’t trust the Tories to do anything for us.
In Essex, they want to cut £102 million from public services. There’s nothing left to cut!
Labour wouldn’t be any different. When Labour was in power locally, they just passed on Tory cuts and council tax rises. Waltham Abbey library could be next on the chopping block.
Local councils have the power to cap rents and build council homes to actually make it affordable to live somewhere decent.
Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre has put up its prices. The council is handing local services to private firm Qualis, supposedly to save money. But things are getting more expensive as Qualis make profit at our expense. It’s the same for homeowners having to fork out more to estate management companies.
Bus services in Waltham Abbey are too expensive, and the prices have just gone up! Sunday services are run by another company. Why do we have to fork out again for an unreliable service? Local councils should step in to stop this happening, or run the service themselves.
And if you drive, Rishi Sunak knocking 5p off petrol is a joke. Has he seen how much prices have increased by? And Epping Forest Tory Council has just cut £100,000 from the pothole budget.
Like many parents, we’re struggling to find enough nursery hours and baby clubs for our children. This will only get worse now Epping Forest Tories have cut the voluntary budget in half.
That’s why we’re standing as Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates. We’re the only party in this election standing against Tory and Labour cuts.
Ealing – Austerity has worsened crime
Mark Benjamin, TUSC candidate in Norwood Green
Residents deserve a councillor who will campaign for them. Austerity has contributed to an increase in burglaries, car theft and violence against women.
I am campaigning for the council to deliver 4,500 new and safe genuinely affordable homes, which would combat the rise in private rents. As heating bills rise, the council should use its powers to provide each and every household with grants to better insulate our homes. TUSC candidates are real people: your neighbours, trade union members, nurses, school teachers, bus and train drivers and civil servants.