In light of this piece from the Thurrock Independents group of councillors: Thurrock Independents Slam Thurrock Conservative Council For Putting Homeless People At Risk we thought it was worth reproducing the article below which was published in the Stirrer paper in early 2017. They state that: Thurrock Independents are not and will never be in the business of meeting the housing needs of other boroughs. The Thurrock Independents know that what happens in London has a direct impact on us out here, therefore their acknowledgement of, support for and solidarity with housing campaigns across the capital resisting social cleansing such as Focus E15 amongst many others would be greatly appreciated:)

Anyone who visits London will notice how rapidly the city has changed over the last decade or so. Sleek new apartment blocks seem to be shooting up everywhere. Neighbourhoods that were solidly working class a couple of decades ago have totally changed as their former inhabitants have been moved out to make way for a more affluent population.

This is the continuing project of making London a welcome home for the global super rich, upon which the only impact of Brexit has been a few changes in who’s buying in London. With the decline in the value of sterling, it’s bargain basement time for overseas property investors… Labour boroughs in the capital such as Haringey and Southwark are just as complicit in this brutal process of social cleansing as Tory ones such as the City of Westminster as they willingly suck up to the developers.

How we’re affected by this out along the estuary

All of this has an impact in towns along the estuary as the former inhabitants of inner London working class estates are re-located out here against their will. One example is Thurrock where the City of Westminster have been involved in a bidding war with the local council to secure properties from private landlords to place people on their housing waiting list. With the amount of money coming into the coffers of London boroughs as they flog off their estates to private developers, they can afford to outbid Thurrock Council pretty much every time.

The impacts of this are exacerbated by poor communications between the affluent London boroughs kicking out their poor and homeless and the local authorities out here where they’re effectively being dumped. A ‘policy’ that leads to tension and resentment as the perception that ‘outsiders’ are getting priority over locals isn’t challenged. Then again, a bit of divide and rule and blaming others is always useful in diverting the flak away from authorities out here who have no intention ever of providing decent quality, genuinely affordable housing.

Out of sight, out of mind

With councils like Thurrock losing the bidding wars with the London boroughs, they face the dilemma of where to house / dump people on the waiting list. This is leading to a situation where people are being moved out of Thurrock. One extreme (for the moment) case involved a family being offered accommodation as far away as County Durham! We’ve heard reports of people from Barking & Dagenham being re-housed in former mining towns up in Nottinghamshire. Places that are isolated and suffering from deprivation. Given the brutal logic of an economic system that views housing as a financial asset to be traded instead of a basic human right, even deprived former pit villages have a role to play as locations to warehouse people socially cleansed from more affluent areas of the country. The fact that they’ll be stranded hundreds of miles from friends, family and any support networks they might have seems to count for nothing to the authorities.

Focus your anger on the right target

If people are concerned about the ongoing housing crisis out here on the estuary and how social cleansing from London is exacerbating the situation, they need to be taking a broader overview of what’s going on. Ignore the crap from the divide and rule merchants cynically using the housing crisis for their own nefarious agenda. Focus your anger on the following…

An economic and social system that sees housing as an investment / cash cow as opposed to the basic human right it should be. All local authorities in inner London, Labour as well as Tory who suck up to developers in a bid to get in on the ‘regeneration’ game and dump on their poorest and most vulnerable residents in the process. The landlords willing to sell to the highest bidders which are the affluent London boroughs with deeper pockets that the local authorities along the estuary. Then again, whoever has heard of a landlord with a conscience?

This is why whenever possible, we offer our practical solidarity to the housing struggles in London standing up to the relentless onslaught of social cleansing. It’s not because we’re bleeding heart liberals – it’s because we recognise that their struggle is our struggle and we will only win by standing together and giving the finger to the divide and rule merchants who want us fighting each other…