Dear Mr Miliband,
On Channel 4’s ‘Battle for Number 10’, an audience member asked you about Cressingham Gardens Estate. He was asking you whether Lambeth Labour’s plan to demolish and redevelop the estate is an example of the Labour Party’s betrayal of its core values. He was warning you that undecided voters and even supporters could be turning away from the party because of unpopular policies such as the Estate Regeneration Programme.
Understandably, you weren’t familiar with this particular regeneration project. Conversely, the audience member who challenged you, Jeffrey Louis-Reed, is a Brixton resident who has been following the plight of Cressingham residents in the news.
Now, Mr Miliband, this is your chance to review the case and win back public trust. On behalf of the residents of Cressingham Gardens, Tulse Hill, SW2, we urge you to step in and halt this impending political and a human catastrophe.
Let us fill you in a little: Lambeth council had given residents the option of full refurbishment as part of the consultation which began in September 2012. The council tortured residents with a shambolic TWO-AND-A-HALF year ‘co-production’ and then in a surprise blow, just this month, it pulled the plug on the option – the one that 80 per cent of people wanted. However, Lambeth’s decision to only look at demolition options is based on a flawed financial analysis (labeled as ‘bad maths’ by MP Chuka Umunna) and no consideration as to impact on the community and affordability.
- Over 200 council tenants are being asked by council to give up their secure tenancies under the 1985 Housing Act if they want to stay
- New build will result in a rise in both council rents and council tax for the tenants, many of which are elderly and vulnerable
- Homeowners will be required to move further out of London or agree to have the council takeover up to 40% of the ownership in their home
- Break up of community support networks that the elderly, vulnerable and young families rely upon to survive.
Residents are beside themselves with worry about the demolition of their homes. These homes are well-designed, spacious and bright. The role-model estate is set around well-used green spaces that promote friendly interaction and there is low crime. The community – just like as envisaged in Lord Adonis’ “City Villages” report – is mixed and representative of the local area.
Above all, the 300 properties are GENUINELY AFFORDABLE. There are elderly and vulnerable residents who report sobbing nightly as they fear for their futures. There are key workers with children at local schools, who risk being pushed out by the proposed new development, that would drive up local property prices and rents yet further. There are hundreds of ordinary people who have made a life here over decades who are set to be displaced.
This is about more than Tory cuts: Lambeth Labour has starved the estate of money after mismanaging its finances and housing stock. Residents feel severely let down by the local politicians who, while colluding in the gentrification of Lambeth, think they can win kudos by demolishing council estates and rebuilding at double the density.
Instead of listening to the 80 per cent who want repairs, instead of taking seriously their alternative, sustainable and affordable green refit plan, Lambeth Labour has chosen to betray them.
Mr Miliband, please intervene and show Lambeth residents that the Labour Party has not lost its soul and abandoned people like us, living on Labour controlled estates across London. It’s your chance to demonstrate that you do listen and that the Labour Party is not merely paying lip-service to the socialist principles you claim it still has.
Mr Miliband, please save Cressingham!
The audience member asked you: “You’ve made it quite difficult for your supporters and for people that are undecided… You don’t really seem to be fighting for the values that your party stands for…meaning places like Cressingham Gardens which is the Labour council in Lambeth, or museum closures because of the decimation of arts budgets, and, austerity in general.”
You replied: “Tory austerity is happening and the cuts you’re talking about at the councils are happening because of the Conservative government’s decisions.”
Architecture and design:
Municpal Dreams Blog – “Cressingham Gardens, Lambeth: ‘warm and informal…one of the nicest small schemes in England’”
Single Aspect Blog – “Cressingham Gardens – a village within a city”
Recent Coverage & Residents’ Vision
Save Cressingham Campaign