4,000 join ‘March for Housing’ protest at City Hall—but mayor wasn’t there

PUBLISHED: 13:27 04 February 2015 | UPDATED: 14:09 04 February 2015

March for Housing arrives at Tower Bridge, heading for City Hall

March for Housing arrives at Tower Bridge, heading for City Hall

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Thousands of protesters marched on City Hall calling for security for all tenants and for a reversal of the cuts to social housing—but Boris Johnson wasn’t around to hear their grievences.

Veteran East End housing campaigner Eileen Short on march from ShoreditchVeteran East End housing campaigner Eileen Short on march from Shoreditch

Campaign groups from all over east London who set off from Shoreditch on Saturday were joined by marchers from south London, with an estimated 4,000 supporters taking part in the demonstration.

They included Parliamentary candidates from the Trade Unions’ Socialist Coalition challenging both East End MPs in the General Election.

Housing protesters at City Hall... but Mayor is absentHousing protesters at City Hall... but Mayor is absent

“This protest shows the level of anger at the failure of the nation’s housing policy,” said Glyn Robbins, running for Bethnal Green and Bow in May’s election.

“We’re reaping the whirlwind of a policy over the past 30 years where tenants have lost all protection against unfair evictions, where social housing has been cut and where families are being forced out of Inner London by rocketing rents.

'Rooftop' protester on March for Homes'Rooftop' protester on March for Homes

“We have to change that policy. But our politicians only talk about home-buying, not housing needs—so we’re challenging them at the General Election.”

Cuts in social housing has led to “a chronic under supply of homes”, campainers maintain. A third of all London families were once council tenants in the 1970s, now down to just eight per cent, they point out. This included 80pc in Tower Hamlets alone—now down to 20pc.

They accuse housing associations, which took over much of council housing, of working only for profit by building homes for private rent or sale, rather than “providing the housing that’s needed”.

The protest also demanded an end to private landlords’ powers to evict tenants without having to give a reason.

Among protesters were members of Tower Hamlets Private Renters’ Group fighting to prevent 52-year-old whistle-blower Michael James being evicted from the Docklands home he has lived in for 24 years in Shadwell. He was served notice last summer after complaining about a dangerous roof structure which collapsed onto his neighbour’s home.

But Saturday’s demo ended without a deputation to the Mayor—Boris wasn’t in the building, so protesters disbursed after their “show of anger”.

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