Residents of a housing estate in East London travelled to the HQ of a US investment firm that plans to evict more than 90 families from their homes. Some 400 campaigners subsequently marched to No. 10 to hand a petition with 294,000 signatures to PM David Cameron.
Young and old from Hoxton’s New Era estate travelled across London on Monday in a fleet of buses to the offices of Westbrook Partners’ based in Mayfair. Shortly after hundreds more gathered in Berkley Square before making their way to Downing Street .
RT reports: The east London residents’ plight has made headlines as soaring rents imposed by private landlords, particularly in London and southeast England, are pushing millions of non-homeowners into poverty – and forcing many ordinary citizens out of London. Residents’ anger has also attracted high-profile support from campaigners such as Russell Brand, the radical comedian who has called for a “socialist revolution.”
The campaigners’ demonstration was sparked by escalating fears they may face eviction in the wake of Westbrook Partners’ development plans for the east London estate. Residents are concerned dramatically increased rental prices, following the firm’s redevelopment program, will render them priced out of their own homes.
As protesters marched from Berkley Square to Number 10 on Monday, they chanted and called for affordable social housing.
Outside Downing Street, New Era resident Lindsey Garrett warned that the Westbrook debacle was eroding UK citizens’ faith in the coalition government.
“David Cameron talks a lot about family and community and people getting back into work, but this is destroying all that,” she said.
Westbrook Partners purchased the Hoxton estate in March 2014, and subsequently transferred ownership of the site to an offshore firm located in UK tax haven Jersey.
It is thought to be developing covert plans to evict New Era residents from their apartments, modernise and revamp the estate and rent the flats at full market prices. In the case of some flats, revised rental costs could treble current rents.
As political and public protest against the company’s project mounts, support for the residents’ campaign is growing.
Russell Brand and Labour MP Diane Abbott accompanied leading members of the campaign group on Monday’s march.
Speaking to campaigners at the protest, Brand said that Westbrook Partners had failed to directly address the New Era campaign’s concerns. He also denounced the firm as unreasonable and profit-driven, emphasising their refusal to negotiate with local residents.
“What business has an American development firm got coming to this country, purchasing social housing and raising the rents,” he asked.
“There’s a whole strata of British society that isn’t represented by the political class,” he said.
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