Britain’s biggest trade union, Unite, will be raising the plight of residents facing eviction from the New Era housing estate in Hoxton at London Labour’s biennial conference this Sunday (30 November).
Unite will be urging London Labour to back the campaign which is calling on Westbrook, the new owners of the New Era Estate, to honour tenancy agreements and lift threats of rent hikes and evictions.
The union will also be encouraging Labour members, councillors, MPs and Greater London Assembly members to join New Era residents on their march on Monday 1 December. Starting at 12:30 outside Westbrook’s headquarters on Berkeley Square the march will make its way to Downing Street to hand in a petition of over 300,000 signatures.
Peter Kavanagh, Unite regional secretary for London and Eastern, said: “A safe affordable home is a basic human right. These families living on the New Era estate face being kicked out of their homes and onto the streets by Christmas.
“Super-rich landlords are buying up public properties and charging sky high rents, which is forcing London’s workers from their homes and out of their city.
“That is why we are urging London Labour to join with us in supporting the New Era residents and help put an end to London’s housing crisis.
The New Era estate in Hoxton was recently sold to Tory MP Richard Benyon and Westbrook estates, an American pensions company. Richard Benyon sold his 10 per cent stake following public outcry and a petition signed by over 250,000 people.
Westbrook is ploughing ahead with plans to refurbish the two bedroom flats on the estate and increase the rent from £600 per month to the ‘market value’ of £2,400 per month, making it unaffordable for residents who now face losing their homes.
Lindsay Garret, a single mother and campaigner from the New Era estate, said: “We are being told that no evictions will happen before 2015. However that is not a guarantee that our homes are safe and we will still spend this Christmas fearful for our futures.
“My work, my family and my support network are here. As a single mother the thought of being forced from my home and all of this is simply terrifying. All I want is somewhere safe to raise my son.
“Boris and the Tories aren’t interested in helping us but affordable housing is part of what the Labour party stands for so we are really hoping they will step up and help us.”
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.