Renters ‘call out’ housing secretary Jenryck over Isle of Dogs ‘dodgy’ £1bn Westferry deal
PUBLISHED: 17:20 28 June 2020 | UPDATED: 22:08 01 July 2020
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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