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New flats in Stepney completed as fitting memory to ‘Battle of Cable Street’ veteran Max Levitas

PUBLISHED: 12:35 03 August 2020 | UPDATED: 16:09 03 August 2020

Max Levitas by the Battle of Cable Street mural in 2011. Picture: Glyn Robbins

Max Levitas by the Battle of Cable Street mural in 2011. Picture: Glyn Robbins

Glyn Robbins

A car-park magnet for yobs has been turned into a new housing scheme in memory of veteran anti-fascist campaigner Max Levitas from the 1936 Battle of Cable Street who helped beat off Mosley’s Blackshirts.

Max Levitas in Whitechapel aged 96 joining protest outside East London Mosque in 2011 against planned march by EDL extremists. Picture: Mike BrookeMax Levitas in Whitechapel aged 96 joining protest outside East London Mosque in 2011 against planned march by EDL extremists. Picture: Mike Brooke

The new Levitas House in Stepney has been built on an old car-park in Jubilee Street that Tower Hamlets Council says used to attract anti-social activity.

It is named after the former the veteran Tower Hamlets councillor from the 1950s, 60s and 70s who died in 2018 aged 103 after a lifelong political career as a Community Party member fighting for housing for the poor and social justice.

“These new properties are a fitting tribute to the memory of Max Levitas,” Mayor John Biggs acknowledged this week.

Mayor John Biggs (left) and deputy mayor Suraj Islam at Stepney's new Levitas House in Jubilee Street. Picture: LBTHMayor John Biggs (left) and deputy mayor Suraj Islam at Stepney's new Levitas House in Jubilee Street. Picture: LBTH

“Levitas House will provide much needed housing in Stepney to people on our waiting list, part of our programme for 2,000 new council homes to help those bearing the brunt of the housing crisis.”

Levitas was an active 18-year-old member of the Young Communists growing up in Whitechapel when Oswald Mosley tried marching through a largely Jewish East End in 1936 with his blackshirts.

He relived his memories of that fateful October during an address he gave at a 70th anniversary commemoration held at Toynbee Hall in 2006 when he estimated 200,000 East Enders had prevented the blackshirts getting through.

1936... scene at Gardner's Corner in Whitechapel, opening the Battle of Cable Street that Max Levitas took part in to stop Moseley's blaclkshirts marching through the East End. Picture: TH Archive1936... scene at Gardner's Corner in Whitechapel, opening the Battle of Cable Street that Max Levitas took part in to stop Moseley's blaclkshirts marching through the East End. Picture: TH Archive

The development in Jubilee Street in his memory is the first of three sites due to be completed this summer with 77 new council homes altogether, managed by Tower Hamlets Homes.

Deputy Mayor Sirajul Islam said: “We’ve had to be inventive by finding spaces such as this car park where we can provide much-needed homes.

“It’s important to make sure the new Levitas House development enhances the area when we build in the middle of existing estates.”

Max Levitas, 1915-2018, at Toynbee Hall in 2006 when he was 91, addressing 70th anniversary of Battle of Cable Street reunion. Picture: Mike WellsMax Levitas, 1915-2018, at Toynbee Hall in 2006 when he was 91, addressing 70th anniversary of Battle of Cable Street reunion. Picture: Mike Wells

Max Levitas House has a large playground with a climbing frame, swings and trampolines for both its tenants and the other families on the Cliche Estate. A quarter of the new homes are being given to families from the estate who are on the local authority’s register in need of more suitable housing.

The larger flats are for bigger families, each with its own outdoor space. Two of the flats are designed for families with disabilities with wider hallways with space for wheelchairs and showers with safety equipment.


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