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Crown Estate denying tenant rights’ says campaign to stop sell-off

PUBLISHED: 19:36 09 March 2010 | UPDATED: 15:41 05 October 2010

A FURIOUS row has blown up tonight over a statement to Crown Estate tenants in London promising they won’t lose their homes if the controversial plans to sell off the freehold go ahead. Critics say it hides new tenants being denied their security and empty properties being kept vacant for the big sell off

By Mike Brooke

A FURIOUS row has blown up tonight over a statement to Crown Estate tenants in London promising they won't lose their homes if the controversial plans to sell off the freehold on the properties go ahead.

Critics say yesterday's statement hides new tenants being denied their security and empty properties being kept vacant for the big sell off.

A petition has gone to the Queen, just a week after the Crown Estate came in for a grilling by MPs at a Commons Select Committee. A public meeting is also planned in the East End next week.

The Crown Estate has been swamped with 600 letters and phone-calls over the past six weeks, they admit.

Condemnation came this evening from MP George Galloway, who raised the issue in the Commons in January, and from members of Tower Hamlets council, after families say they've been denied a ballot.

Mr Galloway, whose Bethnal Green & Bow constituency includes some of the properties, accused the Crown Estate of "refusing to ballot the residents who are being potentially sold off to who knows who."

He added: "There would be an overwhelming rejection of the sell-off. Properties for key workers are in short supply and should not be sold off to speculators licking their lips at the site of prime properties around Victoria Park."

The row has also brought out opposition from Tower Hamlets councillors.

Lib Dem group leader Stephanie Eaton told the East London Advertiser tonight: "Families should be balloted, like those on council estates a few years ago over 'housing choice.'

"But Crown Estates doesn't listen. It's a sham consultation."

The tenancy handbook of rights has not been given with new lettings, while some properties remain empty deliberately, according to Victoria Park residents' association.

Their co-ordinator Madeleine Davis, who briefed MPs at last week's Select committee, told the Advertiser: "There will be key workers recently moved in who will not have any protection. Any new landlord would have a right to repossess their flats with just two months' notice.

"Vacant homes are being kept empty pending a sale, leaving key-workers on the waiting list in limbo."

A public meeting is planned for Thursday week, March 18, at St James-the-Less church hall in St James's Avenue in Bethnal Green, by Victoria Park, at 7pm.


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