Protesting mums take over Newham council homes next to Olympic stadium

Protesters occupying empty council housing at Stratford's Carpenters Estate

Protesters occupying empty council housing at Stratford's Carpenters Estate - Credit: Focus E15 campaign

Angry young mums stormed onto an empty council housing estate and took over boarded-up properties in their campaign launched when they had to quit their East London hostel after its mother-and-baby unit was closed down.

Stratford's empty Carpenters Housing estate

Stratford's empty Carpenters Housing estate - Credit: Focus E15 campaign

Members of the Focus E15 campaign used the occupation on Stratford’s Carpenter’s Estate next to the Olympic Park to try and shame Town Hall bosses over leaving “perfectly habitable” homes empty for years.

They accused Newham Council of shipping families from the estate out of London, leaving homes vacant in site of the Olympic Stadium.

“The estate has 2,000 empty council homes due to the decision to sell off the land to a private developer,” said Focus E15’s Jasmine Stone.

“The council continues to ship families out of London while they have thousands of beautiful vacant homes overlooking the Olympic Stadium. These homes need families—and people need homes!”

The estate has been earmarked for redevelopment since 2010, as refurbishment of the three main tower blocks would be too expensive, the Town Hall insisted.

The local authority wants to use the empty homes as temporary accommodation “to help alleviate housing pressure in Newham”.

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A council spokesman said: “We are already using several empty properties and want to add another 386 on the estate.”

The council blames a local tenant management organisation for blocking its plans last year.

“They sent a solicitor’s letter instructing us not to proceed,” the spokesman added. “Newham is facing an acute housing crisis with more than 15,000 households on the waiting list. Using these properties would have helped.”

Meanwhile, the Focus E15 campaigners who say they were forced out of their hostel in Stratford last year and “dumped” into private rents, have set up a community centre on the occupied estate.

It opened yesterday with a protest fair and children’s activities, aimed at shaming the Town Hall over the empty properties they said were “perfectly habitable”.