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Housing association withdraws private sale of keyworker home in Bethnal Green following protest

PUBLISHED: 10:00 01 March 2019

Protestors got inside the former keyworker home and staged a 'people's viewing'. Picture: Glyn Robbins.

Protestors got inside the former keyworker home and staged a 'people's viewing'. Picture: Glyn Robbins.

Glyn Robbins

Protesters have continued their campaign against the sale of keyworker homes in east London with a ‘people’s viewing’.

Campaigners and councillors outside the house. They want to see it let out by the housing association, Peabody, not sold.Campaigners and councillors outside the house. They want to see it let out by the housing association, Peabody, not sold.

They met at Richardson Road to halt the sale of number 17 and took a look inside the property, which was up for sale by the housing association Peabody.

But shortly before it went under the hammer on Tuesday, it was withdrawn.

The house is in a fine state and is ready to let, according to Glyn Robbins, who has been a housing campaigner in east London for over 30 years.

“This is only one example of this kind of thing, it’s still going on elsewhere , so we’re certainly not sitting back and resting on our laurels,” he said.

The house was withdrawn from auction shortly before it was due to come under the hammer. Picture: BidX1.The house was withdrawn from auction shortly before it was due to come under the hammer. Picture: BidX1.

“But it’s a good thing and I’m very pleased, I’m pleased people’s commitment to the issue—at least initially—has paid off.”

“Little victories like this do make a difference, because it convinces people that if we don’t just sit back and let it happen that we can change it.”

A Peabody spokesman confirmed the home had been withdrawn from sale and said the association was reviewing its next steps.

He added that only one empty property had been sold in Tower Hamlets since July 2017. In the same period the housing association built 131 social homes.

The kitchen of 17 Robinson Road. Picture: Glyn Robbins.The kitchen of 17 Robinson Road. Picture: Glyn Robbins.

Mr Robbins, who manages a council estate in Islington for a living, declined to say how they gained entry to the home, but said they left it as they found it.

His career was catalysed when the British National Party (BNP) won its first ever council seat in the Isle of Dogs in 1993. At the time he worked in the area.

The now-defunct party blamed the housing crisis on the island on the Bangladeshi community.

Mr Robbins saw the housing crisis and the success of the BNP in 1993 as directly linked. It’s why he wants housing associations to accept a broader responsibility to society, not just to provide homes.

The living room inside 17 Robinson Road in Bethnal Green. Protestors who have seen the house say it is ready to live in. Picture: Glyn Robbins.The living room inside 17 Robinson Road in Bethnal Green. Protestors who have seen the house say it is ready to live in. Picture: Glyn Robbins.

“Not providing adequate housing has much wider social consequences—racism is one of them.”

On the possible trespassing, Mr Robbins said: “Any minor infringement is nothing compared to what I would consider the criminal act of leaving a place like that empty.”

The ‘people’s viewing’ follows a protest last week on February 18, when a ‘people’s order’ was posted to prevent the sale.

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