Campaigners protest to demand action be taken over empty Carpenters Estate in Stratford
PUBLISHED: 17:09 01 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:09 01 July 2020
© Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk
A group of campaigners took to the streets to demand action be taken over the empty Carpenters Estate in Stratford.
The protest — organised by activist group Focus E15 — involved a solidarity Chain of Power, where protestors linked the one kilometre between temporary accommodation hostel Brimstone House and the Carpenters Estate, which lies next to the Olympic stadium.
Both start and end point were chosen strategically; the group are aggrieved that 400 council flats have been empty on the Carpenters Estate for over 13 years, while hostels such as Brimstone House remain overcrowded.
Focus E15 believe this is unacceptable, particularly with the latest figures showing that Newham has the country’s highest homelessness levels, at around one in 24 people.
Group campaigner Ayesha Taylor questioned why Newham Council has left homes empty during a pandemic, adding: “These homes should be opened immediately as 100 per cent council housing.”
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In sympathising with residents’ concerns, Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz admitted that “they have been ignored for too long”.
All options “remain on the table” with regards to the estate’s future; since being given approval in February, developers Populo Living have been evaluating the James Riley Point, Lund Point and Dennison Point tower blocks.
Ms Fiaz added: “All previous assessments that refurbishment wasn’t going to be an option are being looked at again. Final technical reports are being prepared and will be presented to Newham’s cabinet before the end of the year.
“I want to again reassure the residents on the estate and others that I remain on their side.”
Former Brimstone House resident Egwolo Ekregbesi protested to highlight “the clear injustice of having 28,000 people on a council housing waiting list, whilst leaving 400 plus homes empty”.
According to the council, only a minority of the empty properties are habitable; 67 of those are being used as temporary accommodation, with a further 11 being renovated.
Egwolo, who now lives in one of the few habitable properties, believes lockdown emphasised the importance of decent housing and added: “Families have been forced to isolate for months in one room. Refurbish these empty flats and open up the homes so people can have long term housing security.”
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