Lambeth Council Cabinet Lobby Report

Posted: November 21, 2013 by lambethsaveourservices in Demonstrate, Rally & Occupy!, Housing, Lambeth College
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Crowds outside town hall
Large crowds gathered outside Lambeth Town Hall last night (Nov 20th) to lobby the full council meeting happening inside. Despite torrential rain and bitter cold, residents, teachers, students, campaigners and trade unionists converged on the steps of the town hall in protest at a number of decisions being made that have may have dramatic effects on the local area.
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The event started in the early evening when a large crowd of students, lectures and supporters gathered at Brixton College to protest the proposed sell off to property developers. Despite the miserable weather they took to the streets and marched around central Brixton, flyering and picking up momentum as they went.
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They joined others on the steps to the town hall from a number of local campaigns. Local housing activists were lobbying the council to commit to a policy of non evictions for bedroom tax victims as austerity starts to bite against some of the poorest in the borough.
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As the crowds gathered several local people gave speeches calling on the council to stop the selling of land being used to provide decent education and housing in the borough and instead for it to be put to use serving the community.
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Local trade unions were out in full support with members from local National Union Of Teachers, University and Colleges Union and UNISON.
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2013-11-20 18.38.57Lambeth United Housing Coop and residents of Cressingham Gardens want the council to stop the sale of council properties and so turned up in force with some excellent home-made banners. Some of the residents have lived in these homes for over 30 years.
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After the lobby several deputations went into the council meeting to call on the council to act on the demands from the various campaigns. After a little “vocal persuasion” the council agreed that they should all be heard but the security guards still kept many keen local people outside as the meeting was over capacity.
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Well done all round, it was a fantastic turnout, remarkable given the miserable weather, and was a great show from all the campaigns involved.

To get involved in more stuff like this come to the next SOS planning meeting: Thursday 5th December 6:30pm, Vida Walsh Centre, Saltoun Road (off Windrush Square in Brixton).

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Comments
  1. Ian Townson says:

    Here is the text of the presentation read out to the full meeting of Lambeth Council as part of the lobby on 20/11/13. It was greeted with cheers from the public gallery and muted murmurs of approval from some councillors. It remains to be seen whether any action will be taken on the proposals made by the deputation.

    My name is Pilgrim Tucker. I am the co-ordinator of Unite the Union Community membership in London. I am presenting this deputation with members of Unite Community in Lambeth and other housing activists on behalf of many local groups and individuals who are urging Lambeth Council to do more for their residents on the issue of social housing in the borough.
    For some time now we have been working alongside tenants, residents and members of the community on the issue of decent, affordable homes for all. What we have found and continue to fight against is the anxiety, uncertainty and insecurity caused by the wretched bedroom tax and benefit caps brought in by this government.

    These measures will hit thousands in our community. Across the borough tenants are living with the fear of homelessness because of rent arrears and the possibility of being uprooted from neighbourhoods where they may have lived all their lives.The council should act to prevent this insecurity, by reassuring the tenants that they will not be evicted due to the bedroom tax, and set an example to housing associations that are already starting legal proceedings against tenants.

    To add to this council property and land is being sold to private developers leading to a reduction in social housing in the borough. Where new tenancies for social housing for tenants are proposed they include unaffordably high rents and shorter, more insecure tenancies.

    The policy of ‘short life’ recall threatens people who have been in their homes since the 1970s. Pensioners are among these people who have maintained social housing that the council abandoned. These people were given categorical promises by their Labour councillors that their right to stay in their homes would be defended!

    The council says it is using the proceeds from the sale of council owned land and void properties to refurbish existing council properties, but this is a short sighted approach. We need to stop the sale of existing council housing and go further – to start to build new social housing which is available at rents that ordinary local people can actually afford to pay.
    Without such action we will see soaring rents and the destruction of secure tenancies for our communities, and risk the loss of the vibrant diverse population and culture for which Lambeth is rightly celebrated.

    To have a decent home is a basic human need without which well-being and progress is not possible. With the increase in soup kitchens and homelessness in Lambeth we call upon this council to:

    Make a public commitment that no legal action will be taken against tenants who are in arrears due to the the bedroom tax and benefit cuts.

    Take no disciplinary action against staff that refuse to be involved with legal action and evictions against tenants.

    Give tenancies to those currently occupying short life co-op housing in Lambeth.

    Stop the transfer of council land and property to private developers.

    Build 100% council homes at low rents with secure tenancies.

    Pressure the government to abolish the bedroom tax, restore benefit cuts and undergo a massive, publicly owned house building programme to end this crisis.

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