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Monday, 15 June 2015

DCH and DPAC Tenants and Housing Summit, Report 2

Personal report by Joan Grant

The following report by Joan Grant looks at the event previously prospectively outlined on the Defend Council Housing (DCH) website, of which there is another report from Benefits Justice published in the previous blog post on Kilburn Unemployed blog.(1) (2)

Tenant and Housing Summit
Saturday 13th June 2015

In the morning there were a number of speakers. There was an inspiring talk by a woman from Greater Manchester Against the bedroom Tax, there was a woman from Unite and Paula from DPAC also did a speech. I arrived at the event at about 12 noon, so I missed a couple of speakers. I videod all the speakers that I heard. 
At 12.30 we broke into workshops. I attended the workshop on fighting estate demolitions. There were speakers from a number of campaigns: Sweets Way, West Hendon, Haringey, Walthamstow and possibly a couple of others. Again, I videod the speakers. 
We then had quite a lively discussion. Diane Abbott was at the workshop. 
All the campaigns are doing the same things. They are bringing residents of all tenures together to fight demolition and so called regeneration. They are having to fight mostly Labour Councils etc, though some Tory councils also have schemes. We need a body who can do that work on a pan London basis. Clearly Defend Council Housing does a lot of good work. 
There was a certain amount of wrangling in the workshop about whether the Labour Party are deliberately striking bad deals with developers or whether they are just incompetent.

The wrangles about the Labour Party got even more extreme in the plenary session. There will be actions taken to fight demolitions, the cuts and austerity more generally. We could easily spend the next 5 years marching. 
However, we know from past experience that marching alone does not work. I think we should set up a new single issue party. There are all sorts of single issues parties: parties to get us out of the EU, to promote Christian values, to defend internet security, to protect the environment and the health service etc. 
We need to take power at a local level. We need tenants on local councils. We need tenants in the room as members of the Council when negotiations are taking place with developers. You can win seats on a local council with just a few hundred votes. I think we need to be thinking more strategically. 
The Labour Party has taken its core vote for granted for far too long. It needs to get its act together on housing. It has just been wiped out in Scotland. It needs to know that it faces a similar fate in England if it continues to let us down on this issue.


(1) Tenants and Housing Summit e-leaflet accessed Monday 15 June: http://www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk/dch/resources/summit13june2015.pdf
(2) http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/defend-council-housings-tenants-and-housing-summit-report-1.html

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