I apologise for council giving away family silver—for £1
Dear Editor, I WOULD like to offer a public apology to the people of East London. I worked for a small housing association in Poplar and found a new site. It was owned by the council and they sold it to us for £1—even though it was worth £1m. I am very sorry for having taken part in such robbery of the East End’s family silver
I WOULD like to offer a public apology to the people of East London.
I worked from 1998 to 2001 for a small housing association in Poplar called Labo. We tried to help people who had suffered most from poor housing, overcrowding and homelessness.
To help do this, I found us a new office in 1999, at 595 Commercial Road in Limehouse. The site was owned by Tower Hamlets council and they agreed to sell it to Labo for £1-even though it was worth about £1 million.
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The council didn't make any conditions or covenants to the sale, like ensuring the profit of any future sale would be returned to the public purse.
Nine years on and Labo, like many small community housing associations, has been swallowed by by a bigger organisation and has lost its identity.
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The offices are now empty and up for sale. Even in a depressed market, the new organisation (Gateway) will make a small fortune because it didn't cost them a penny in the first place.
I would like to think that such negligent transfer of public assets to private companies had stopped. But it hasn't.
The New Labour local authority has disposed of millions of pounds of public land and assets for measly returns, land that could have been used to build council housing.
I am very sorry for having taken part in such robbery of the East End's family silver.
Moravian-street, Bethnal Green