Council housing neglect – I’m standing for TUSC to fight back

by Aaron Smith, Enfield and Lea Valley Socialist Party

My mum and I live in a council flat in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire – owned by Enfield Council. With a hole in the roof and awful damp, mould is out of control. The flat above ours, and lots of others on the estate have been sold as part of the right-to-buy scheme.

I keep looking at the building from the garden and thinking about how absurd it is that some of the building is publicly owned and some is private, you really can’t tell from the outside at all. They should never have sold any flats off at all; it has been a major barrier in fixing the leaks and basically stretched out this whole ordeal. The delays this has caused mean much more maintenance is now required to bring it back to the standards required for it to be a healthy and safe place to live in. We are lucky the building hasn’t partially collapsed!

Mould on a house ceiling

It really adds to the problem that housing is so unaffordable and inaccessible for people on modest incomes or benefits. If the flats became structurally unsafe they would have nowhere to put us temporarily!

My Mum’s flat is a symptom of far bigger problems, and of Enfield Labour council’s failure to fight back against Tory austerity since 2010. Every time someone from the council comes here, they say how stretched the council is with money and staff, and that they struggle to even keep their staff. It is not sustainable for it to go on like this. They said the same at a recent meeting held for tenants, attended by around 50 people.

I think the call for councils to set needs-based budgets is spot on. Only then can the housing crisis begin to be fixed with maintenance of existing stock brought back to a decent condition, and a mass programme of new council homes to reduce waiting lists.

The country generally is in a knackered state; roads are broken, public services don’t work effectively and health is generally poor, poverty and homelessness are rife.

I think everything we see around us is connected back to the Tories’ austerity and downright robbery of our country’s wealth.

A lot of the problems we see can’t be fixed unless councils are funded properly. That means having councillors prepared to fight for what’s needed. That’s why I’m standing as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition on 2 May, standing in the Flamsted End ward of Broxbourne Borough Council.