Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Reverse Reform? home. The lovely place I retreat to at the end of a hard day, where I can curl up in front of the telly watching some lame box set or other, with a cup of herbal tea, snuggled up under a blanket, and hibernate. It's something that pretty much everybody takes for granted. That that warm, safe haven will be there at the end of the day. 

As somebody who has, at different times in my life, known the shame of eviction, the fear of potential homelessness, the pain of hunger, and also the dread of going home every day to a place that is far from warm, comfortable, or welcoming, I was shocked and disturbed to read the recent news about an American company, Westbrook Partners, buying up Hoxton's New Era estate (all right, I'm a little slow to catch up, but there you go.)

The people living on that estate are just that; people. They have a basic human right to air, food, water, and a warm home where they feel safe. I was under the impression that we live in a country where human life is valued and those things are an accepted norm? Seems not. 

Of course those services shouldn't be entirely free, so the people who work in those sectors can stay fed and clothed themselves. But to allow a foreign investor to come in a take over such a historically rooted area of London and turn the basic human right having a warm, safe home into chargeable commodity that prices that vast majority of the population out of the market, is just morally wrong. 

Where are these people going to go? Outside of London? Leaving them to commute to their jobs and schools every day. thereby tipping the already delicate balance of the financial situation in the average household, stressing the already overworked TfL systems, and adding carbon footprint to the environment? 

Let's face it; we live in a society still reeling from recession. Unlike previous generations, very few of us who didn't manage to get on the property ladder before the recession hit in 2007, are now finding it next to impossible. That leaves renting as the only option, and companies like Westbrook are capitalising on the basic human right to a home. It's sick. Especially when you look at the size of the £4m mansion owned by Mark Donner, the company's London manager......

Not that people shouldn't have big houses, if they have been lucky enough to get to a state in life where they can afford one. Why not? But to my mind, there is no need to take away from people who have less, just because Westbrook are greedy for more than they already have, far more than they can possibly need. 

In a Tory government, are we even surprised? After all, can you imagine Westbrook buying up some fashionable patch in Chelsea and turning out all the residents to run around the street with their Jimmy Choos in their hands? I think not. And David Cameron has been suspiciously silent on the whole thing.....

I am a renter myself, and the scion of a line of East Enders. The East End has been the beating heart of London for centuries. If things carry on the way they are, there won't be any flavour, any grit left in the capital at all. Just affluent suburbia from West to East. And how boring would that be?

Whatever your feeling or opinions may be on the state of the government, rising house prices, benefit claimants, immigration, or a swathe of other topics besides, you still get to come home to your cave, your nest, your castle, every day. Imagine how you would feel if that were about to be taken away from you, and just before Christmas to boot? It's happening. Right here. What makes you think it can't happen to you?

Please show your support by signing the petition to keep the New Era Estate rents down to an affordable level HERE.. They may have delivered the petition to Downing Street already, but the more signatures they get, the more clout they'll have down the line.

No one should ever have to know the terrifying, limbo-like state of not knowing where your children will end up your Mum's? On a friend's sofa? Or on the street? Things like this should have gone out the window back when Dickens was writing A Christmas Carol, and banging on about charity beginning at home and keeping Christmas all year round. Because if nothing has changed, then what have nearly 200 years of social reform all been for, when the very bricks that shelter you can be snatched away through no fault of your own? Is this a return to the Dickensian London of old?

I hope not. I'm not sure corsets and cholera would agree with me...