Tag Archives: council

“Hello Auntie”; the residents, the students, and the neo-liberal games


Later this week, the BBC is due to take occupation of its broadcasting headquarters for the Olympic, which will be in the upper five storeys of two tower blocks, Lund Point and Dennison Point, on the Carpenters Estate in Stratford. Where, you might ask, will all the residents go? The answer, as traced by “Richard B” in the current issue of Mute Magazine, is that the blocks concerned were condemned as unfit for human habitation in 2004, and have since been run down by Newham council, which has reached a deal with University College London (UCL) to site a new campus on their remains. The residents, in other words, are being displaced.

Dave Sewell, writing about this same story in Socialist Worker, notes that Newham has a council house waiting list of 28,000 people and just 600 unoccupied homes for the former Lund inhabitants (and anyone else in the borough) to move into, and quotes Warren a local resident, “it’s just social cleasing. There are empty properties on the estate – why can’t people live here instead of being sent to Stoke?”

While the Olympics speeds up the displacing of the residents by students; a second population transfer is simultaneously taking place. The BBC’s competitors among the global media businesses reporting the games are going to be housed in UCL’s own student quarter in Bloomsbury (i.e around Russell Square). In both these moves, the wealthier are displacing the poorer, and the geographically mobile displace those who would prefer to stay.

The Carpenters Estate comprises some low-rise properties and three large concrete (22-storey) blocks, finished in (of all years) 1968. The blocks were marked down for closure eight years ago, but are still occupied, thanks not least to the Carpenters Against Regeneration Plans (CARP) campaign.

Richard B describes Newham’s efforts to mobilise against the dissenters: holding sham public meetings with security guards to keep out the Carpenters residents; offering remaining tenants alternative accommodation in a housing association block (ie with diminished security of tenure), promising loans (not grants) to anyone quitting the Carpenters in order to buy their own home.

UCL students – disheartened by the activities of their own institution – have voted to back the residents; while UCL management is no doubt hoping the occupiers will simply leave with the minimum of fuss.

Yet again, the Olympics is being used as an excuse to remove London’s poor. You might almost think that this was a pattern.

The Security Games; Brent’s problem with leafleters


Campaigners in Brent are incensed by news that the local authority is planning to introduce a bye-law which would penalise those handing out free leaflets in the Borough. The report to the council which justified the measure stated that it was “being sought now to assist with the effective control of literature distributors anticipated during the Olympic period.”

Under the proposals, an organisation who wanted to hand out free literature would have to apply for a licence costing £175. There would be a minimum notice requirement of two weeks. A re-submission fee would cost a further £75. Each individual person who handed out leaflets would also have to pay a fee depending on how which days of the week they proposed to do this: £75 per person if during office hours on weekdays, rising to £165 per person on Sundays or Bank Holidays. The new restrictions would not materials promoting charities, religious organisations or “for political purposes”.

At a meeting of the Brent Trades Council on Wednesday, which voted to oppose the proposals, delegates gave examples of the sorts of activities which would be subject to this charge. BNP canvassers would not be punished by the rules; anti-fascist protesters would have to show that their purposes were “political”, otherwise they might be required to pay the fee.

Campaigners against library closures (a key group in Brent in the last year) would probably have to pay the charge, as presumably would trade unionists, and as (certainly) would trade unionists trying to leaflet quickly (i.e. without waiting for 2 weeks’ notice) in support of a dispute that arose suddenly.

Typical of the present period is Brent’s insistence that the new scheme, which will last indefinitely, has to be rushed through in order to be in place by the Olympics. Brent is an Olympic borough. It renegotiated its street cleaning contract last year, reducing the frequency of collections, and no doubt the council is wary of critics dubbing Brent the dirtiest Olympic borough.

But all over London there are other petty, authoritarian measures of this sort which are being introduced simply because they are convenient for various local authorities (councillors, the police, businesses etc). The Olympics is being used as an excuse to generalise the worst of London.