GMB slam Barking and Dagenham Council for approval of demolishing homes

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Barking and Dagenham
© I Wei Huang

GMB have slammed Barking and Dagenham Council’s approval of proposals put forward by their development company Be First (Regeneration) Ltd to demolish 24 homes in Eastbrook Ward

Barking and Dagenham Council should be spending its time looking to build new Council housing for local residents on the waiting list rather than demolishing perfectly good existing homes, says GMB London.

The 24 homes set to be demolished, at 482-528 Rainham Road South in Eastbrook Ward, are made up of three council-owned, four-storey buildings, are not part of Be First’s 2015-2021 Estates Renewal Programme.

The proposals, which are now subject to public consultation, intend to replace existing tenant and leasehold properties with 29 shared ownership units, 15 Affordable Rent units and 20 London Affordable Rent (LAR) units. These new homes will be managed within the Council’s Reside structure and will not, therefore, be Council houses.

Be First will also have to decant and rehouse 13 existing leaseholders and 11 tenants, possibly forcing the leaseholders out by compulsory purchasing their properties.

The estimated total project costs, including the cost of purchasing the leaseholder’s properties, are in the region of £20.5m and of this over £13m will have to be funded by borrowing.

GMB believe these plans are being pushed by the council to generate business after it was revealed that Be First made a £4m loss in its first year of trading.

GMB have previously called for Be First to up their social housing target from 16% to the National Labour Party target of 50%, after a GMB study found that 30% of Barking and Dagenham residents in employment were earning less than a living wage of £10.55 per hour in the year to end April 2018.

Vaughan West, GMB regional organiser, said: “This is yet another example of Barking and Dagenham Council’s social cleansing of the borough, by knocking down the homes of long-established residents and replacing them with new homes that they cannot afford.

“For many local people so-called affordable homes are out of their reach and even the London Affordable Rent is likely to be higher than current Council rent levels.

“Barking and Dagenham Council should be spending its time looking to build new Council housing for local residents on the waiting list rather than demolishing perfectly good existing homes.

“GMB London Region are aware of at least one leaseholder who purchased their flat less than a year ago and has since spent approximately £25,000 refurbishing it.

“We would encourage all the residents of this site and their neighbours to write to the Leader of the Council Cllr. Darren Rodwell, objecting to the demolition of their home.”

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