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Custom House campaigners victorious as Newham Council brings homes back under its control

PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 August 2020

PEACH members with Newham Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz in September this year. Picture: Andrew Brookes.

PEACH members with Newham Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz in September this year. Picture: Andrew Brookes.

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Newham Council has ended its relationship with one of its main property management companies and brought hundreds of homes back under local authority control.

PEACH and the Mears Cats group held several demonstrations during their campaign. Picture: Tony Aldis, Openeye FilmPEACH and the Mears Cats group held several demonstrations during their campaign. Picture: Tony Aldis, Openeye Film

Some 250 council properties in Custom House and Canning Town, which are managed by Mears, will be transferred back to the council with tenants due to see significant rent reductions.

Mears took over the homes in 2011 in what was supposed to have been a temporary measure.

The council and neighbour-led People’s Empowerment Alliance for Custom House (Peach) have been trying to wrest back control from the company after complaints about living conditions and the length repair works were taking.

A Peach spokesperson said: “Our feet haven’t touched the ground. We still can’t believe what we have achieved.

Rokhsana Fiaz told PEACH she would Rokhsana Fiaz told PEACH she would "look at ending the contract" at an anniversary celebration. Picture: Chester Yang, CY Film Productions

“We organised and campaigned and won.

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“Our fight isn’t over. Some of us are still living in dangerous and under repair conditions. We will continue to work with Newham Council until every last home is taken back from Mears and Mayor Fiaz has kept all her promises.

“We hope our extraordinary victory will lend strength to thousands of tenants across the UK who are being ignored by their councils and mistreated by profiteering slumlords.”

Last year Mears handed back 37 homes to the council and Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz pledged residents living in the Custom House regeneration area for five years or more would have the right to return after works were completed.

A Mears spokesperson said issues were caused by the “poor fabric of the building” and the local authority had responsibility for some repairs.

Alan Long, from Mears, said: “I am deeply saddened the residents have been the victims of political indecision and electoral promises which could not have been delivered.

“I hope Newham will now be able to start the much needed regeneration of the area to develop the homes needed in their borough.”

Ms Fiaz said: “This marks a real victory for the residents who have had historical issues with the management of the property by Mears. Officers have worked tremendously hard with residents to address these issues and now we’ve come up with an acceptable solution.”


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