Duke of Westminster dishes out latest round of central London social cleansing eviction notices

Billionaire Duke to kick families out of council homes to build luxury flats

EXCLUSIVE: Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor, has been accused of ‘social cleansing’

By Alan Selby 24 AUG 2019

A billionaire Duke has been accused of “social cleansing” for planning to boot 40 families out of council homes to make way for luxury flats.

Hugh Grosvenor, 28, the Duke of Westminster, is the world’s wealthiest person aged under 30 after inheriting his title three years ago.

His property group Grosvenor aims to demolish Walden House, which it leases to Westminster Council, by 2023 and replace it with shops and homes, including social housing.

A total of 141 people, eight disabled, have been told to leave the homes they have lived in for up to 40 years.

Hugh Grosvenor is the 7th Duke of Westminster

They can apply for new homes up to 12 miles away but some fear a life on the streets after being told of decades-long waits on housing lists.

NHS PA Liza Begum, 34, who has been at Walden House all her life, said: “It’s social cleansing.”

Families now paying £600 a month for a two-bed council flat fear they won’t get a chance to live in the new development alongside luxury properties.

Liza said the residents were told only in March, seven years after private tenants in neighbouring flats.

She said: “What do Grosvenor expect us to do?

“Move from a place we’ve been for 30-plus years and start again? It’s ridiculous.”

A petition against the Duke’s plans has more than 100,000 signatures.

Grosvenor said it wanted more affordable housing in the area and had delayed demolition from 2021 to 2023 to give residents more time.

“We have been providing tailored support over and above what is required to help residents,” it said.

The council said: “We negotiated a two-year extension to the lease, to 2023, to allow more time to find residents accommodation.

All will be offered suitable alternative council accommodation within Westminster.”

Sign the petition at change.org.

UK on verge of second traveller revolution? Asking experts from the 1970s and 80s

Do benefit cuts mean UK is on verge of second traveller ‘revolution’? With two experts from the 1970s/80s Series: Bristol Broadband Co-operative Program Type: Weekly Program

Featured Speakers/Commentators: Contributor: Bristol Broadband Co-operative http://www.radio4all.net/index.php/program/98859

Summary: Author of The Battle of the Beanfield, which describes the police attack on hundreds of travellers in convoy toward Stonehenge festival, Andy Worthington and traveller Sean join us to discuss the social and political reasons why the UK’s 1970s and 1980s ‘New Age’ travellers appeared when they did. Sean trained as an HGV mechanic so was helping maintain many vehicles, he describes life on the road, the practicalities of moving night after night and relations with neighbours and the police. Sean was at important festivals such as ‘Nostell Priory’. Ultimately the traveller convoy was part of a wider ‘movement’ against the changes being brought in by the Thatcher government, forced repeated evictions by landowners and, since they had been forced out of permanent ‘bricks and mortar’ homes to live out of vehicles, was about land rights and property.

Nostell Priory festival 1984 http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/theakstons-nostell-priory.html

On June 1st 1985, a convoy of new travellers, peace protesters, green activists and festival-goers set off from Savernake Forest in Wiltshire to establish the 12th annual free festival at Stonehenge. There were around 450 people in total, and they included a number of women and children. They never reached their destination. Eight miles from the Stones they were ambushed, assaulted and arrested with unprecedented brutality by a quasi-military police force of over 1,300 officers drawn from six counties and the MoD. That event has gone down in history as ‘The Battle of the Beanfield’. This book is the combined effort of a large number of people who feel passionately that only through reaching an understanding of what actually occurred before, during and after ‘The Battle of the Beanfield’ can a proper ‘closure’ take place for those involved and the many people who have been in some way touched by it.

The Battle of the Beanfield

UN climate report: Change land use to arable to avoid a hungry future?

UN climate report: Change land use to avoid a hungry future

[NOTE: Arable is a more efficient use of land, food health, protein and calorie wise, than livestock farming except on marginal land like hills. So for that reason alone the UN are heading in the right direction.

But hunger has little to do with land use or climate, its much more about land ownership and the financial system, incentives and subsidies. ed. TG]

GENEVA (AP) — Human-caused climate change is dramatically degrading the Earth’s land and the way people use the land is making global warming worse, a new United Nations scientific report says. That creates a vicious cycle which is already making food more expensive, scarcer and less nutritious.
“The cycle is accelerating,” said NASA climate scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig, a co-author of the report. “The threat of climate change affecting people’s food on their dinner table is increasing.”
But if people change the way they eat, grow food and manage forests, it could help save the planet from a far warmer future, scientists said.
Earth’s land masses, which are only 30% of the globe, are warming twice as fast as the planet as a whole. While heat-trapping gases are causing problems in the atmosphere, the land has been less talked about as part of climate change. A special report, written by more than 100 scientists and unanimously approved by diplomats from nations around the world Thursday at a meeting in Geneva, proposed possible fixes and made more dire warnings.

“The way we use land is both part of the problem and also part of the solution,” said Valerie Masson-Delmotte, a French climate scientist who co-chairs one of the panel’s working groups. “Sustainable land management can help secure a future that is comfortable.”

Scientists at Thursday’s press conference emphasized both the seriousness of the problem and the need to make societal changes soon.

“We don’t want a message of despair,” said science panel official Jim Skea, a professor at Imperial College London. “We want to get across the message that every action makes a difference.”

Still the stark message hit home hard for some of the authors.

“I’ve lost a lot of sleep about what the science is saying. As a person, it’s pretty scary,” Koko Warner, a manager in the U.N. Climate Change secretariat who helped write a report chapter on risk management and decision-making, told The Associated Press after the report was presented at the World Meteorological Organization headquartersin Geneva. “We need to act urgently.”

The report said climate change already has worsened land degradation, caused deserts to grow, permafrost to thaw and made forests more vulnerable to drought, fire, pests and disease. That’s happened even as much of the globe has gotten greener because of extra carbon dioxide in the air. Climate change has also added to the forces that have reduced the number of species on Earth.

“Climate change is really slamming the land,” said World Resources Institute researcher Kelly Levin, who wasn’t part of the study.

And the future could be worse.

“The stability of food supply is projected to decrease as the magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events that disrupt food chains increases,” the report said.

In the worst-case scenario, food security problems change from moderate to high risk with just a few more tenths of a degree of warming from now. They go from high to “very high” risk with just another 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) of warming from now.

“The potential risk of multi-breadbasket failure is increasing,” NASA’s Rosenzweigsaid. “Just to give examples, the crop yields were effected in Europe just in the last two weeks.”

Scientists had long thought one of the few benefits of higher levels of carbon dioxide, the major heat-trapping gas, was that it made plants grow more and the world greener, Rosenzweig said. But numerous studies show that the high levels of carbon dioxide reduce protein and nutrients in many crops.

For example, high levels of carbon in the air in experiments show wheat has 6% to 13% less protein, 4% to 7% less zinc and 5% to 8% less iron, she said.

But better farming practices — such as no-till agricultural and better targeted fertilizer applications — have the potential to fight global warming too, reducing carbon pollution up to 18% of current emissions levels by 2050, the report said.

If people change their diets, reducing red meat and increasing plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and seeds, the world can save as much as another 15% of current emissions by mid-century. It would also make people more healthy, Rosenzweig said.

The science panel said they aren’t telling people what to eat because that’s a personal choice.

Still, Hans-Otto Pörtner, a panel leader from Germany who said he lost weight and felt better after reducing his meat consumption, told a reporter that if she ate less ribs and more vegetables “that’s a good decision and you will help the planet reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Reducing food waste can fight climate change even more. The report said that between 2010 and 2016, global food waste accounted for 8% to 10% of heat-trapping emissions.

“Currently 25%-30% of total food produced is lost or wasted,” the report said. Fixing that would free up millions of square miles of land.

With just another 0.9 degrees F of warming (0.5 degrees C), which could happen in the next 10 to 30 years, the risk of unstable food supplies, wildfire damage, thawing permafrost and water shortages in dry areas “are projected to be high,” the report said.

At another 1.8 degrees F of warming (1 degree C) from now, which could happen in about 50 years, it said those risks “are projected to be very high.”

Most scenarios predict the world’s tropical regions will have “unprecedented climatic conditions by the mid-to-late 21st century,” the report noted.

Agriculture and forestry together account for about 23% of the heat-trapping gases that are warming the Earth, slightly less than from cars, trucks, boats and planes. Add in transporting food, energy costs, packaging and that grows to 37%, the report said.

But the land is also a great carbon “sink,” which sucks heat-trapping gases out of the air.

From about 2007 to 2016, agriculture and forestry every year put 5.7 billion tons (5.2 billion metric tons) of carbon dioxide into the air, but pulled 12.3 billion tons (11.2 billion metric tons) of it out.

“This additional gift from nature is limited. It’s not going to continue forever,” said study co-author Luis Verchot, a scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia. “If we continue to degrade ecosystems, if we continue to convert natural ecosystems, we continue to deforest and we continue to destroy our soils, we’re going to lose this natural subsidy.”

Overall land emissions are increasing, especially because of cutting down forests in the Amazon in places such as Brazil, Colombia and Peru, Verchot said.

Recent forest management changes in Brazil “contradicts all the messages that are coming out of the report,” Pörtner said.

Saying “our current way of living and our economic system risks our future and the future of our children,” Germany’s environment minister, Svenja Schulze, questioned whether it makes sense for a country like Germany to import large amounts of soy from Latin America, where forests are being destroyed to plant the crop, to feed unsustainable numbers of livestock in Germany.

“We ought to recognize that we have profound limits on the amount of land available and we have to be careful about how we utilize it,” said Stanford University environmental sciences chief Chris Field, who wasn’t part of the report.


AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein reported from Washington. Frank Jordans contributed from Berlin.

Social Housing under siege – on centenary of 1919 Addison Act which began huge UK council housing programme

‘Its time for the war to end, and for housing to be reinstated as one of three pillars of the welfare state, along with health and education.’

[]The unnecessary destruction of Robin Hood Gardens Estate in Poplar, in east London, March 2018, to make way for a new private development, Blackwall Reach (Photo: Andy Worthington).

Please support Andy Worthington’s work as a reader-funded investigative journalist, commentator and activist. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.

Today, July 31, is the centenary of the first Housing and Town Planning Act (widely known as the Addison Act), which was introduced by the Liberal politician Christopher Addison, as part of David Lloyd Georges coalition government following the First World War, to provide Britains first major council housing programme, as John Boughton, the author of Municipal Dreams: The Rise and Fall of Council Housing, explained in an article published yesterday in the Guardian.

Boughton explained how, when Addison introduced his flagship housing bill to the House of Commons in April 1919, he spoke of its utmost importance, from the point of view not only of the physical wellbeing of our people, but of our social stability and industrial content.

‘Between 1920 and 1980 the British government built around six million council houses’ says Tony Gosling

As we celebrate the centenary of council housing, Boughton noted, this sentiment is not lost in the context of the current housing crisis. From the rise in expensive, precarious and often poor-quality private renting to the dwindling dream of home-ownership, it is fuelling discontent. This escalating crisis means that increasing numbers of people are now forced to deal with the painful consequences of the country’s inability to provide such a basic human need a stable, affordable home.

Philanthropists had been creating social housing since the 1840s, beginning with Model Dwellings Companies (privately run companies that sought a return for investors while providing affordable housing for the working class), and the Peabody Donation Fund (now Peabody), founded by the London-based US banker George Peabody, whose aim was to ameliorate the condition of the poor and needy of this great metropolis, and to promote their comfort and happiness, and whose first project, on Commercial Street in Spitalfields, opened in 1864.

The first council-built housing was created in Liverpool in 1869, and in 1890, as Boughton put it, a Housing Act established the legislative powers and machinery of state for the expansion of council housing. He added, however, that only around 24,000 council homes were built nationally before 1914.

In contrast, as he described it, the 1919 Addison Act was a housing revolution – and while Addison’s motives were commendable, it must be noted that it took the horrors of the First World War and the housing plight of those who survived it for the British establishment as a whole to embrace the need for a major programme of genuinely affordable housing.

As he proceeded to explain, It required not only that all local authorities conduct a survey of housing needs within just three months but that they actively prepare plans to meet them. Beyond what could be raised locally by a penny on the rates, the cost of building these new homes was to be met entirely by the Treasury. The act also insisted on high-quality housing, taking its cue from the wartime Tudor Walters Report, which had recommended cottage homes with front and back gardens, bathrooms and pantries at no more than 12 to the acre.

Unfortunately, as Boughton proceeded to explain, in a post-war era of materials and labour shortages, construction costs were unprecedentedly high at around 1,000 per house, up to three times the cost of pre-war production and his programme fell victim to public spending cuts. Just 176,000 homes had been built in England and Wales of the 500,000 Lloyd George had promised, and Addison resigned from both the government and the Liberal party in protest, later joining the Labour Party, where he served under Ramsay MacDonald, and became Leader of the House of Lords during Clement Attlee’s extraordinary post-WWII government.

Following Addison’s resignation, there was a revival of council-built housing via other housing acts in the 1920s, although, as Boughton noted, the houses were typically smaller and plainer than those envisaged in 1919. In the 1930s, when the Labour politician Herbert Morrison undertook a visionary expansion of council housing in London as the leader of the London County Council (LCC), further housing bills, which particularly took aim at slum clearances and introduced rent rebates also addressed what Boughton described as one serious deficiency in Addison’s reforms that their relatively high rents excluded the slum population most in need of rehousing.

The horror of another war the Second World War and, again, the plight of returning soldiers paved the way for the British establishment to once more accept the need for another major programme of genuinely affordable housing, as part of the astonishing post-war government led by Clement Attlee, which also established the NHS and consolidated the welfare state.

From then until 1979, when Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister and set about destroying council housing through her Right to Buy policy, cutting funding for maintenance, and introducing an absolute prohibition on councils spending money from the sale of homes to build new council housing council housing was promoted by both Labour and Conservative governments, ensuring that, for most of the preceding 60 years, after the 1919 Addison Act, there was, as Boughton put it, a broad cross-party consensus that accepted the necessity of state intervention to build the homes the country needed.

As Boughton also explained, One common factor underlay both eras of reform under Addison and Nye Bevan and it provides the single constant in the long history of what is now referred to as social housing: that is the inability of the free market and the unwillingness of the private sector to provide decent, affordable housing to those in greatest need.

40 years on from the start of Margaret Thatchers assault on social housing, Britains housing crisis has become nothing short of a disaster. Thatcher presided over a housing bubble, but also a subsequent crash, when numerous homeowners were caught in a negative equity trap. The market remained cool throughout John Majors premiership, but when Tony Blair became Prime Minister in 1997, ending 18 years of Tory rule, it didnt take long for another colossal housing bubble to develop one that continues to plague us today, with house prices at an all-time high, private rents unfettered and out of control, and social housing still chronically undermined. Blair failed to roll back Thatchers Right to Buy project, and also failed to establish the need for a major social homebuilding programme, and, throughout London, and across the country, Labour councils persistently failed to defend council housing, instead launching estate demolition programmeswith private developers that have drastically reduced the numbers of social homes available.

Since 2010, the Tories have only added fuel to this blazing fire of inequality, slashing subsidies for social homebuilding and encouraging housing associations like Peabody to lose touch with their founders aims by becoming, essentially, private developers with a sideline in social housing. Moreover, when Boris Johnson was Londons Mayor, he set affordable rents at 80% of market rents (as opposed to social rents at around 30% of market rents), and this injustice has, typically, not been adequately addressed by the Labour Party, or by the major housing associations. Since replacing Johnson in 2016, Sadiq Khan has set up a sliding scale of allegedly affordable rents, all of which are considerably more expensive than social rents London Affordable Rent (over 60% higher for a two-bedroom flat), and London Living Rent (over 130% higher).

For more information, see Andy Worthington’s articles, The Eviction of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden and the Mainstream Medias Inadequacy in Reporting Stories About Social Homes and Affordable Rents, Video: I Discuss the Tidemill Eviction, the Broken Regeneration Industry and Sadiq Khans Stealthy Elimination of Social Rents, as well as Shame on Peabody: Calling on the Former Philanthropic Social Housing Provider to Abandon Its Plans to Destroy the Old Tidemill Garden and Social Housing in Deptford and A Radical Proposal to Save the Old Tidemill Garden and Reginald House in Deptford: Use Besson Street, an Empty Site in New Cross.

The result of the last 40 years of politicians eroding social housing and doing nothing to rein in greed in the housing market is akin to another war, but this time a cannibalistic war waged by British citizens on their less well-off fellow citizens, as those with mortgages taken out before the bubble have seen insane returns on their original investments, and, at the same time, absolutely no legislation exists to prevent those who take out buy to let mortgages from exploiting their tenants as much as they wish, while those fortunate enough to live in properties at social rent myself included are part of an ever-diminishing minority, and, since 2010, have lived in fear that the Tories will pass legislation intended to fully exterminate social housing, or, if they live on a council estate, that Labour councillors will vote to demolish their homes.

Its time for the war to end, and for housing to be reinstated as one of three pillars of the welfare state, along with health and education.

Note: If youre interested in doing something to mark 100 years since the Addison Act, please sign Shelters petition calling for the government to build more social housing, and watch George Clarkes excellent Channel 4 documentary, George Clarkes Council House Scandal, which was broadcast this evening, and in which George called on the government to build 100,000 council homes a year, and to suspend Right to Buy. An article by George, entitled, We dont just need more council houses we need the very best in space and ecological standards, is here.