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We must build for the future

September 17, 2009

This letter from Cllr Abjol Miah appears in today’s East London Advertiser.

Cllr Miah has called for an urgent programme of social home building

Cllr Miah has called for an urgent programme of social home building

The disastrous housing crisis in Tower Hamlets has nothing to do with the number of mosques here, any more than it has to do with the number of churches, synagogues or Hindu temples. Once again John Rush (letters 10th Sept) has let his prejudices distort the truth.

The scale of the crisis is well brought out in the Overcrowding Strategy document that the council is inviting the public to comment on until the end of this month. There are some 15,500 families estimated to be in overcrowded accommodation in Tower Hamlets with about half of these families in private accommodation, half in “social”.

The reason for this massive amount of overcrowding is very simple. The council has not built a single council home for more than a quarter of a century. In the meantime the housing stock has been run down through right to buy. This is the combined effects of deliberate government policy first from the Conservatives and then from New Labour.

Whilst the council seems to recognise the scale of the crisis, its response can only be described as pitiful.

Councilllor Francis, the self-promoting lead member for Housing, has even proposed that Section 106 money, that could be used to build new council housing, should be diverted to the great white elephant of Crossrail. And his much trumpeted overcrowding strategy to help 500 families over three years lies in tatters as recent figures from the Strategic Housing team clearly demonstrate.

The government has finally made available £127 million to build new council homes after a long campaign by Defend Council Housing and George Galloway and a small number of decent MPs of all parties in parliament. Tower Hamlets bid for some of this money but it was one of just a handful of councils whose bid was rejected on grounds it wasn’t “value for money”. Incredible.

Nothing demonstrates more clearly the need to change this council regime at the earliest opportunity and replace it with a council that will be fully committed to eradicating the blight of overcrowding.

Councillor Abjol Miah, Respect Group Leader

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