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Squatters take over Tower Hamlets council caretakers’ property

PUBLISHED: 14:39 23 September 2013 | UPDATED: 11:50 24 September 2013

Cllr Josh Peck

Cllr Josh Peck

Archant

Squatters have occupied a council building which could be used for social housing in London’s deprived East End.

Now a furious councillor is calling for town hall action to get the squatters out of Tower Hamlets’ former caretakers’ premises.

Joshua Peck blames the authority for letting the building at Newport House in Arbery Road, near Mile End Park, “sit empty for two years and becoming an eyesore” while a local housing association has been stopped from converting it to housing.

“Residents on the Lanfranc Estate have been living next door to an eyesore for months,” said Cllr Peck.

“They now find themselves living next door to a squat.

“The Mayor claims that housing is his top priority—but he vetoed nine family homes on this site and has left it to rot and now be squatted.”

The building has been empty since council estate caretakers moved out. But it has become “an eyesore with rubbish piled up around it and weeds grow through the fence”.

Old Ford Housing which runs the Lafranc Estate either side of the building had plans for nine family-size homes to help reduce the East End’s long housing waiting list which has more than 20,000 families on it.

Cllr Peck asked at a council meeting in April why the transfer to Old Ford Housing to allow the scheme to go ahead hadn’t taken place. The cabinet was still considering options for the site, he was told.

So it remained empty. Now, five months on, squatters have moved in.

The building is being considered for Adult Services, according to the council.

Meanwhile the Town Hall is “taking the necessary legal action to remove the squatters and secure the premises,” according to a spokesman.

But it could take months to get repossession, councillors fear, because the building is not residential property.


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