It was a privilege to march on the Town Hall with residents from Cressingham Gardens in Tulse Hill two weeks ago, as part of the campaign to save their homes from demolition.
Armed with drums, banners and whistles, many had never protested before. Grandparents, carers, children, key workers and many others created a peaceful carnival feel. But all were united behind a very serious issue - the threat to their 300 homes and beautiful community.
The issue is so important that national news outlets such as The Guardian and ITV news covered it. One journalist told me he just couldn’t believe what Lambeth Council is proposing. Labour want to bulldoze the estate rather than invest in it, so they can bring in rich developers and build expensive housing next to Brockwell Park.
Labour councillors in Tulse Hill won’t help the residents. Nor has their MP Chuka Umunna, whose role is now to develop Labour’s relationships with big business. So local people have turned to the Green Party for help. They have collected thousands of signatures on a local petition to save their homes - many more people than voted Labour in Tulse Hill.
Many are saying they will never vote Labour again. Who can blame them? Before May’s council elections, Lambeth Council’s Labour leader Lib Peck issued a press release saying: “I want to reassure people that we are not interested in doing anything to the estate that doesn’t command the confidence and support of its residents.” Now she won’t even support resident’s requests to have a vote on the future of their homes.
In the same week that we marched on the Town Hall, Lib Peck was at a £300 a ticket property fair in central London. Whilst Labour has an eye for the pound signs, dining with rich property speculators, Cressingham residents are acutely aware of the true value of housing and are taking all the steps they can to keep their homes.
This article was first published in the Lambeth Weekender