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Anger mounts over council's decision to sell-off Lambeth housing co-ops

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Anger mounts over council's decision to sell-off Lambeth housing co-ops

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Local Government

Anger mounts over council's decision to sell-off Lambeth housing co-ops Anger mounts over council's decision to sell-off Lambeth housing co-ops

Campaigners against Lambeth Council's decision to evict residents of housing co-operatives and auction off the properties are to stage a protest outside the town hall in Brixton this evening.

Lambeth United Housing Co-op and other groups claim the council is "destroying" 40 years of history by dismantaling the housing co-ops, which were set up in the late 1970s and early 1980s when abandoned and decrepit council homes were handed over to residents.

Tonight's protest will focus on the eviction of co-op resident Maritza Tschepp and her family who have lived in their home for 33 years. During that time she has carried out numerous improvements to the property, such as digging a trench for mains water, installing central heating and putting in a new bathroom. Her efforts have boosted the value of the small house in Stockwell from almost nothing in 1980 to around £700,000.

In a statement ahead of the protest, Lambeth United said: "Lambeth’s ‘recall’ of ‘shortlife’ housing means that members of these co-ops (including OAPs and other vulnerable people) are being taken to court so that the council can gain possession of their homes – homes that co-op residents have maintained across this 40-year period – and sell them on the open market, at auction.

"Against a background of threatened evictions, legal intimidation, hypocrisy and mismanagement, housing co-op residents, supported by their MP (Kate Hoey), are still hoping that Lambeth Council will seek a more constructive way of working with them and have promoted a ‘Super Co-op’ that would have borough-wide benefits and leave a legacy of social housing in Lambeth.

"But Lambeth are not listening, despite the involvement of co-op housing experts."

Defending the council's decision, councillor Pete Robbins, Lambeth's cabinet member for housing, told The Guardian newspaper: "Ultimately it's about priorities. I can't prioritise this small number of people over the 1,200 people in temporary accommodation, the 15,000 people on the waiting list, who also want the opportunity for an affordable home. I don't think a secure council tenancy for life is a terrible outcome.

"I don't think they see the wider picture of housing in Lambeth, and the huge challenges we're facing. Ultimately, and this may sound callous, it's about asset management. You try not to prioritise one set of people over another, but the number of people you can help into decent housing at affordable levels is important."

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