Haringey council tenants protest against ‘social cleansing’

A group of tenants are protesting against council plans to demolish over three and a half thousand homes on council estates, a move which they describe as ‘social cleansing.’

The source of much of the tension is due to council plans to build private housing around the borough.

Broadwater Farm is a particular flashpoint, with the 1,000 home estate set to be bulldozed and turned into high density, mainly private housing.

The total number of homes that are planned to be demolished under the current agenda is 3,644 in thirteen different locations around Tottenham.

The protesters say that this will have no help for people on the council waiting list or for families who are currently in temporary accommodation.

They consider the rising rents, house prices and the production of more private housing to be gentrification.

Haringey Defend Council Housing group believe that the council are looking to create a joint venture company, comprising of 51% owned by the private sector. They fear this would lead to unaffordable near-market rents and five year tenancies.

Appearing on ITV Tonight a couple of weeks ago, Cllr Alan Strickland, executive member for housing and regeneration at Haringey Council, completely rejected the assertions.

“Social cleansing is a very serious and quite offensive term and certainly given what we are doing in Tottenham, it has got no basis or fact what so ever.

“At the moment there is no firm plan but what we have been honest about is that we think there is potential to improve those homes through regeneration and that is what we are talking to residents about at the moment.”

Both Sadiq Khan and Jeremy Corbyn have spoken out against this apparent ‘social cleansing’ with the Tottenham Labour Party passing motions opposing the planned demolition of Broadwater Farm.

Paul Burnham, Secretary of Haringey Defend Council Housing, said: “This is social cleansing pure and simple. Black and white people will be uniting to stop the developers trashing Tottenham’s mixed and diverse community”.

The council has responded by saying that there are no plans in place yet and that the homes that are due to be demolished will be replaced.

However, protesters believe this is just a ploy with similar promises being broken in Heygate estate. Out of the 1,000 that were given the ‘right to return’ only 45 ever did.

The protesters have credited themselves with campaigning against the demolition of Helston Court, Russell Road and Summersby Road, all of which have been dropped. 

A Haringey Council spokesperson said: “It is unacceptable and offensive to use the term ‘social cleansing’. Local people are at the heart of our regeneration plans.

“Our draft Local Plan sets out more than 100 sites across Haringey where we’re exploring long-term options for the future, which in some areas means considering building new affordable housing that our borough desperately needs.

“Our innovative Development Vehicle will act as a safeguard against local people’s priorities being overlooked. Instead of simply selling off land to private developers, we will retain control of the quality of development and ensure that that new jobs, improved public facilities and affordability are at the heart of future plans on council land.

“It is simply wrong to claim that a single family will be forced out of Haringey. In fact, in our High Road West proposals – backed by more than two-thirds of residents – where redevelopment takes place all secure council tenants would be offered a new, modern home at the same social housing rent.”