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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

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

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.

Campaigners call for all rent debt caused by Covid emergency to be cancelled and temporary eviction ban made permanent. Picture: London Renters UnionCampaigners call for all rent debt caused by Covid emergency to be cancelled and temporary eviction ban made permanent. Picture: 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.

'Hundreds of thousands face eviction' in August unless emergency ban is made permanent, say renters. 
Picture: London Renters Union'Hundreds of thousands face eviction' in August unless emergency ban is made permanent, say renters. Picture: 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.

“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.”

How developers see £1bn Westferry luxury housing scheme at Millwall Docks. Picture: Mace developersHow developers see £1bn Westferry luxury housing scheme at Millwall Docks. Picture: Mace developers

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.

How renters see £1bn Westferry luxury housing. Picture: London Renters UnionHow renters see £1bn Westferry luxury housing. Picture: 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.


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