The Lambeth United Housing Cooperative recently issued this press release
The latest development in Lambeth Council’s purge of long-term housing co-op communities comes this week with the trial of Maritza Tschepp on Thursday.
Maritza Tschepp has lived in her home for 33 years, turning it from a derelict site – that was originally CPO’d in the mid 1970s for demolition by Lambeth Council – into a home of a standard well above many council properties, and one more than suitable to bring up three children in.
An active co-op member for more than 3 decades, Maritza also has 20 years experience of leading a local co-operative youth group, the Clapham Woodcraft Folk, including taking young people from Lambeth on many residentials such as Global Village, CoCamp and Snow-Camp. In a bizarre twist, the children of some Lambeth councillors and officers have benefitted from Maritza’s volunteer youth work. Lib Peck, the current leader of Lambeth Council, was until very recently a member of Clapham Woodcraft Folk.
Meanwhile, Maritza’s housing co-op, High Priority, took all nominations from the council waiting list even though the council had nothing to do with the upkeep of the co-op houses. High Priority Housing Co-op spent thousands of pounds on repairs to their houses, monies raised by their own members.
Now the council want to evict residents like Maritza and sell their houses off on the open market, at auction.
The sell-off has been roundly criticised as “savage” by councillors, local residents, local MP Kate Hoey, and even some of Lambeth Council’s own commissioners responsible for the council’s so-called ‘co-operative’ status have raised urgent concerns.
On the eve of Maritza’s trial Kate Hoey MP said:
“Lambeth Council’s eviction policy towards long-term residents of the borough is nothing short of a scandal. They have ‘criminalised’ active members of the community such as Maritza with this short-sighted and unforgivable policy.”
“I have consistently asked the council to think again, but still they continue to bulldoze through with this unfair action. Maritza herself has been part of a resident’s group, backed by the Co-operative Enterprise Hub amongst others, to reach a fair solution, but the council has not given this a fair hearing.”
“Maritza’s beautiful home will, if she is evicted, most likely be immediately ripped apart (at yet more cost to the council along with payments to lawyers and vacant property managers) as has happened elsewhere before being sold on the open market to a developer. With the shortage of housing in the borough this makes the council’s actions even more appalling.”
Meanwhile, Christian Hansen of Hansen Palomares, solicitors for Maritza, added:
“Lambeth’s behaviour has been terrible. As well as trying to take Ms Tschepp’s home, they’ve tried to bully her into giving up by making an additional claim, which they know is grossly unrealistic, for tens of thousands of pounds. They are bullying many other ‘short-life’ residents in the same way.”
“The impact of Lambeth’s actions on my family has caused extreme stress. My children grew up in this house, it is our family home. I have invested decades of my own time and money into turning a neglected wreck into a comfortable home. It is upsetting that Lambeth seem to place no value on this, nor on my contribution to my local community. Instead this so-called ‘co-operative council’ intend to profit from my distress.”