A London council is being accused of planning a programme of ‘social cleansing’ by demolishing council estates
The London Evening Standard, claims to have uncovered secret Hammersmith and Fulham council plans to demolish more than 3,500 flats and houses in the borough, a move that would break up areas that have traditionally voted Labour, to build new homes to attract residents with higher incomes.
The report says council estates ‘deliver a risible return on assets.’ It calls for council rents to be increased to market levels, a move that it estimates would raise £5 billion a year nationwide that could be spent on building new homes.
One document shows that if rents in Hammersmith increased to private levels, a two-bed council flat currently costing £85 a week would go up to £360 a week. It is claimed that, to placate tenants, extra housing benefit would be paid but the aim would be to end the divide between public and private housing.
One memo describes a council estate as ‘barracks for the poor’, while another says social housing is ‘not about giving somebody a £1million home for life’.
Andrew Slaughter, the Labour MP for Ealing, Acton and Shepherd’s Bush, said: ‘Using the language of social cleansing, and with no respect for age, vulnerability or human rights, the Tories propose to destroy communities. This is social engineering on a grand scale and it is being recommended to David Cameron as the way forward in housing.’
Council leader Stephen Greenhalgh, who also heads David Cameron’s Conservative Councils Innovation Unit, said: ‘It’s ludicrous to talk about “social cleansing”. That’s rubbish from neanderthals in the Labour Party. Every time someone comes up with an idea on housing, they are branded as having an ulterior, nasty motive. I make no apology for having a bold vision. We are not stepping back and as and when we have specific plans, we will talk to people about it.’
Hammersmith and Fulham’s newly published Local Development Framework includes options to demolish large council estates such as those in White City, West Kensington, Hammersmith and Fulham.