Renters ‘call out’ housing secretary Jenryck over Isle of Dogs ‘dodgy’ £1bn Westferry deal

Banner protest at Isle of Dogs Westferry luxury housing scheme. Picture: London Renters Union

Banner protest at Isle of Dogs Westferry luxury housing scheme. Picture: London Renters Union - Credit: London Renters Union

Campaigners struggling to rent affordable homes have splashed a banner on the controversial £1billion Westferry luxury housing site on the Isle of Dogs to protest at government minister Robert Jenrick pushing through the development.

Banner protest at Isle of Dogs Westferry luxury housing scheme. Picture: London Renters Union

Banner protest at Isle of Dogs Westferry luxury housing scheme. Picture: London Renters Union - Credit: London Renters Union

Members of the London Renters Union’s Tower Hamlets branch “called out” the Secretary in a protest at the Millwall Docks former printworks over his move to let billionaire developer Richard Desmond dodge a £45m community levy, with a banner pointing up the 20,000 families on Tower Hamlets council’s waiting list.

It was part of a protest across London yesterday when renters demanded an end to all rent arrears caused by the pandemic and a permanent ban on evictions.

A Saturday rally was staged by renters in central London, two days after Jenrick came under fire in parliament over documents showing his decision deliberately pushed through the Westferry scheme just 24 hours before a new community levy for essential services was being brought in, saving the millionaire developer £40-50m.

Banner protest at Isle of Dogs Westferry luxury housing scheme. Picture: London Renters Union

Banner protest at Isle of Dogs Westferry luxury housing scheme. Picture: London Renters Union - Credit: London Renters Union

Protesters in face masks keeping social distancing demanded action to tackle the growing crisis of rent debt and evictions caused by coronavirus, claiming the government was failing to protect renters.


You may also want to watch:


“London’s housing was already broken before the pandemic,” Renters’ Union’s Michael Deas said. “But we’re now heading towards a previously unimaginable crisis of spiralling rent debt and mass evictions.

“The minister doesn’t care about protecting renters in debt and at risk of eviction because of coronavirus.”

Banner protest at Isle of Dogs Westferry luxury housing scheme. Picture: London Renters Union

Banner protest at Isle of Dogs Westferry luxury housing scheme. Picture: London Renters Union - Credit: London Renters Union

Most Read

The campaigners want all rent debt caused by the Covid emergency to be cancelled and the temporary eviction ban made permanent, otherwise they say “hundreds of thousands face eviction” when restrictions end in August.

Jenrick came under fire in the Commons on Thursday for rushing through the Westferry scheme to beat the community levy.

He denied being influenced by sitting at the same table as Desmond at a Tory fundraising dinner a few weeks before his decision or being in contact with him later.

Banner protest at Isle of Dogs Westferry luxury housing scheme. Picture: London Renters Union

Banner protest at Isle of Dogs Westferry luxury housing scheme. Picture: London Renters Union - Credit: London Renters Union

But text messages and emails showed a different account to what he told the Commons. Bethnal Green & Bow MP Rushanara Ali demanded he “sort out the rottenness at the heart” of his housing department.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter