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Bring the landlords and building companies to account!
Barking Riverside estate is a private estate. The site was a disused power station with little intrinsic market value. Now it is worth over £5 billion, according to some estimates. But what was once publicly owned land is now in the hands of private landlords like Adriatic, a Guernsey tax haven-based company with no reason for its existence than to leech off the residents on Barking Riverside and elsewhere.
Even worse, Bellway Homes built many of the houses and flats. Its operating profits have soared (making almost £300m in a half year) even while making provision for all the fire hazards that have been discovered in its properties.
In June 2019, fire ripped through the wooden balconies of Bellway-built Samuel Garside House. The fire brigade said it was an accident waiting to happen. Yet Bellway had told concerned residents that the balconies conformed to building regulations.
As chair of the residents association, the day after the fire I proposed a meeting to take place in four days, and the council and the landlords knew that they had to come up with a solution by then. 200 residents turned up, and the builder, Bellway, the landlords and even someone from the government Ministry of Housing. Bellway agreed to remove the wood from all the buildings and houses on the estate free of charge, with resident agreement on the replacement. We also demanded resident control over the estate and the removal of the landlord Adriatic. But now residents of six more blocks of flats with flammable balconies are being asked for £2,600 each to replace them, despite Bellway’s promise in June 2019!
Bellway should replace the balconies and fix the defective cavity barriers at no cost to residents. We will be organising protests in the next few weeks.
Housing System Broken — Councils must build homes!
The housing system in the country is completely broken – it is in the greatest crisis since the Second World War. The top six building companies have all failed and should be nationalised so that a single, democratically controlled, public entity in London can build houses while putting safety and quality first instead of profit.
If Barking Council and the GLA had, in this way, built safe and robust council properties with front and back gardens, at genuinely affordable rents, they would point the way to solve the housing crisis and be earning income from rent on top.
The only electoral coalition that supports all this is the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), which my party, the Socialist Party, is part of. That’s why I’m standing for the TUSC GLA list too.
Promoted by Shabana Qazi, 34 Lawes Way, Barking, IG11 0PD, on behalf of
Pete Mason, 29 Riverdale Close, Barking IG11 0GQ.