Facts & Figures on Housing in Barnet – obtained via the Freedom of Information Act

RIGHT TO BUY SALES OF COUNCIL HOUSES:

We asked how many council houses had been sold in each of the previous 5 years, and what monies had been received & what discounts had been given.

This was the raw data that was provided:

Year  Total capital receipts  Total discount Properties
sold
2010-11  £               669,500.00  £                   64,000.00 4
2011-12  £            1,446,000.00  £                  112,000.00 7
2012-13  £            4,643,550.00  £               2,517,450.00 34
2013-14  £          12,503,865.00  £             9,996,685.00 103
2014-15  £          16,661,842.80  £             12,178,907.20 123
Totals  £ 35,924,757.80  £ 24,869,042.20 271

So, as you can see, a total of 271 council properties were sold off in the last 5 years, with a total of £36m capital receipts and £25m worth of discounts given.

The right to buy scheme has been heavily promoted in recent years, and this is borne out by a ramping up of the numbers sold, from 4 in 2010/11 to 123 in 2014/15.

When you take a look at the average figures underlying the totals, the discounts given in 2010/11 averaged £16k per house, or 9% of the total value, rising to £99k per house or 44% of the total value in later years.

For all the damage that Thatcher’s legacy of the infamous Right to Buy has caused, on it goes, relentlessly. 40% of ex-council houses ending up in the hands of private landlords. Many of these now sprouting extra bedrooms via unusual conversions where once were well balanced, spacious, solid, sound family homes. A number of Sweets Way residents are now residing in such properties with rent in the region of £1,500 pcm. One (former 2 bed) maisonette has had the living room partitioned in two directly across the centre of the window creating two inadequately sized bedrooms and unbalancing the house such that it does not function for the family of four (with 2 teenage children) who now occupy it. In another, the kitchen had been divided to create a shower room, and the bathroom turned into a third bedroom. This landlord told us, “Oh, the fridge, yes, that’s down the hall [in the airing cupboard]”….as the new kitchen was unable to fit all the usual appliances you might expect in a kitchen – but think of all that extra income he’ll be earning from his extra bedroom. Never mind those who have to suffer the cramped & unsuitable living conditions. Another, a 2 bed maisonette, former council property, now owned by Notting Hill Housing Association is being rented out at £345/week….THREE HUNDRED AND FORTY FIVE POUNDS PER WEEK, and that’s supposed to be “affordable”.

Some clever little charts for your interest: Analysis of Right to Buy sales (be even more clever if I could manage to insert decent pictures of them!)

Average value, discount,and discounted sales price per council house sold in Barnet under the Right to Buy scheme in the last 5 years:

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Notice how the discounts goes up and up and the capital receipts go down and down. It’s a bargain! – yeh, but who for….

Discounts as a % of the gross value of council houses sold under the Right to buy scheme in Barnet in the last 5 years:

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Less than 10% discount offered in 2010-2012, ramping up to 44% discount in 2013-14

Capital receipts from the sales of Council Houses under the right to buy scheme in Barnet, and discounts given:

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Sell, sell, sell

Number of council houses sold…..sell sell sell!

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Now to ask them what they spent the £36m on, because it certainly isn’t 271 new replacement council houses!

Bringing Homelessness Home, Round Two: Tom Davey, Head of Social Cleansing

sweets way resists

We paid a surprise visit to the home of Tom Davey this morning, Barnet’s ‘Head of Social Cleansing,’ coinciding with the Independent’s new report that 50,000 families have been socially cleansed from London in the last three years.

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The other day we pitched up a series of tents and umbrellas in the front garden of Richard Cornelius’ house, the leader of Barnet Council and ward councillor for Sweets Way. We wanted to bring homelessness home to one of the individuals most responsible for the decision to demolish 150 good family homes on our estate.

This morning, as the Independent leaked figures from London Councils that over the last three years, 50,000 homeless families had been forced-out of London by local authorities, we showed up at the home of Barnet councillor and Chair of Barnet’s Housing Committee, Tom Davey, to send a message about what his housing policy is doing…

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They forgot that we were seeds…

sweets way resists

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On Friday we paid another visit to Annington Properties at their 1 James Street address in Central London (feel free to pop by and let them know what you think of their plans, by the way). Given the events of the last couple of weeks, it felt important to let them know we hadn’t disappeared and were just as committed to challenging their ‘regeneration’ plans as we ever have been.

Accordingly, we rolled up with a coffin covered in flowers, and a giant banner emblazoned with the slogan we have adopted from Mexico: ‘They tried to bury us; they didn’t know we were seeds.’

We know that everything about our fight is a David and Goliath-uphill battle, since Annington (and parent company Terra Firma) have the backing of Barnet Council, a Tory Cabinet Minister, and billions of pounds in the bank. However, that is not enough to stop us. Annington…

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Bringing homelessness home… Round One

sweets way resists

Photo by Jen Wilton (@GuerillaGrrl) Photo by Jen Wilton (@GuerillaGrrl)

A week under threat of brutal eviction by high court bailiffs is bound to put most people into a pretty bad state… but it will take more than high court bailiffs to silence the Sweets Way community!

It was a week ago on Friday that Annington Properties had everyone left on the estate’s possession orders moved from County Court to High Court bailiffs. This meant that as of Monday morning, families were facing the prospect of goons kicking in their front doors, unannounced, at 6am, leaving them with ten or so minutes to empty all of their belongings into the street. Luckily, this didn’t transpire, though it did set-off a real panic amongst the remaining families at Sweets Way. In the panic, we all headed to Barnet Homes and demanded immediate rehousing. What families got varied considerably, and continued the pattern of people being…

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Sweets Way campaigners plan weekend of fun and resistance in new occupation

Sweets Way Resists Press release – Thursday 2 April

Residents fighting for their homes have occupied an empty house backing onto the Sweets Way estate in Barnet in ongoing protest at tenant evictions. Campaigners are planning a weekend of community fun and resistance in the property which is part of the ‘Sweets Park’ redevelopment.

On Monday a county court ruled against residents following a three-week political occupation of empty homes including 60 Sweets Way, which had been turned into a thriving social centre and campaign hub. A judge granted full possession of the site to developer Annington Homes, who also requested an injunction preventing people from protesting on the estate.

In a further assault on human rights and an indictment of the court system, campaigners have not been given the details of any potential injunction, even though it potentially criminalises protesters, residents and the public at large.

Immediately following Monday’s ruling, residents and supporters occupied an empty five bedroom house, part of Annington’s ‘Sweets Park’ development area – but just beyond the possession and potential injunction zones.A weekend of fun and resistance is planned in the new occupation, including an ‘Easter Fun Day’, debate and action-planning.

Sweets Way estate is home to over 150 families. Residents were forced to leave their homes in February and moved to temporary accommodation out of the borough. Since then, they have been fighting for the right to go back to the estate and in an effort to stop the development, occupied an empty house, supported by housing campaigns Focus E15 and Barnet Housing Action Group.

Since the occupation began in early March, a handful of residents have been offered temporary accommodation in borough by Barnet Council. But campaigners, known as ‘Sweets Way Resists’, won’t stop until all of the residents are offered suitable alternative housing.

The occupations are a political statement about the criminality of destroying perfectly good houses and replacing them with investment properties. Sweets Way Resists are also staging lunchtime protests at the central London offices of Annington, to shame the company.

Annington (part owned by tax exile Guy Hands worth an estimated £250 million) looks set to make a killing on the London property market. Only 11% (33 units) of the new properties in the planned redevelopment are being leased as ‘affordable rent’ (80% of market rates).

A spokesperson said: “We’re not going to stop: we’re planning to keep the question of social cleansing on the agenda, and support one another as we fight to protect the estate from demolition and secure decent homes for all residents who have been forced out of Sweets Way.

“Our new occupation has all the makings of a fantastic place for community celebration over the Easter weekend. It’s an outrage that this five-bedroom property lies empty while right next door, people are losing their homes.

“Monday’s court ruling was a predictably unfair legal decision in which private property rights are deemed more important than human rights. As well as granting Annington possession over the whole of the estate, they have proposed an injunction on the site! This is worrying for anyone involved in housing justice work and political protest. In addition, the court has so little respect for us that they have neglected to clarify what the injunction means.

“There’s a Mexican proverb that feels appropriate for us: ‘They tried to bury us, but they forgot that we were seeds.’”

Sweets Way Resists – the fight continues!

Sunday 5 April Easter Fun Day, 12-4pm

Easter Egg Hunt, BBQ, Children’s Fun and Games, Bouncy Castle, Arts and Crafts, Egg Decorating, Rabbits, Music

Tuesday 7 April Public Meeting at the new occupation, 7.30pm

The new occupation is at 76 Oakleigh Road North, N20. (Nearest Tube: Totteridge & Whetstone, Northern Line)

Twitter @SweetsWay20

Facebook.com/SweetsWayResists

Sweetswayresists.wordpress.com

Sign the petition on Change.org – 62,000 have signed already!

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PRESS RELEASE – Barnet Housing Action Group

Sunday, March 8, 2015, ongoing, Sweets Way Estate, N20

Sweets Way Estate housing occupation kicks off with community fun day

Tenants and activists have occupied a prominent empty house on the Sweets Way estate in Barnet to highlight the community being destroyed by Annington Homes’ ‘redevelopment’ plans, as eviction of 150 family homes is underway.

This morning, metal covers were removed from the doors and windows of a recently emptied Sweets Way flat, opening the space to the public as part of a short-term political occupation by activists and tenants. The action was inspired by Focus E15, the East London campaign launched by 29 young mothers facing evictions, who fought to be rehoused locally, occupying four flats on the Carpenters Estate in Stratford in September 2014.

Like the Focus E15 Open House, the Sweets Way social centre aims to highlight social cleansing of a community, and provide space for residents to organise together for decent homes.

Property developer Annington Homes is committed to just 11% ‘affordable’ homes in the planned re-development of Sweets Way estate.

Most of the families of Sweets Way have already faced eviction from the estate – and are currently residing in temporary accommodation across London – and the occupation kicks off with current and former residents coming together at a fun day to celebrate the community they have built in the past five years.

Children have been at the centre of the Sweets Way campaign, with a viral video featuring young people evicted from the estate describing the impact of evictions on their families’ health, their education and community, recently featured in the Guardian.

Rejane Barbosa, one of the remaining Sweets Way residents said: “How can they do this without having any other local housing available for these families, how can they do this to do the community? How does Barnet Homes justify demolishing 150 perfectly good family homes, while leaving the community who have been living there for more than five years with nowhere to go?

“They’re uprooting people and rehousing them many miles away, far from Barnet! Our community has come together and supported one another through this awful period, while Barnet Homes has utterly neglected to find decent affordable homes in the area.”

Jasmin Stone, one of the original Focus E15 mums from Newham, who is taking part in the occupation at Sweets Way said: “I support the Sweets Way campaign because it’s important we all have decent secure homes. It’s time we take back what is being taken from us and demand council housing for all.”

Those involved are committed to leaving the space in better condition than they found it in, and to leave peacefully after a period decided with the wider community.

The social centre is supported by residents, as well as campaigns Barnet Housing Action Group, Our West Hendon and Focus E15.

For more information contact: sweetswayresists@gmail.com / barnet.hag@gmail.com

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/720272474760037

Twitter: @SweetsWayN20

Facebook: Sweets Way resists

VIDEO – The children of Sweets Way speak: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyeD-x-uDCA