21 December 2016
Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, has written an open letter  to Jeremy Corbyn asking him to reconsider his endorsement of Lambeth Council’s plans for estate regeneration, which would force residents out and destroy communities.
Bartley, who lives in Lambeth and supports residents fighting the demolition of their homes, made the call after the Labour leader visited a hostel in Camberwell  run by homeless charity Centrepoint.
On the visit Corbyn was pictured with Lambeth Councillor Matthew Bennett, cabinet member for housing and driving force behind the regeneration plans . The photo, tweeted by Bennett, shows the pair holding a sign for the ‘1000 extra homes at council rent’ .
Bartley has invited Corbyn to visit two of the estates under threat of demolition by the plans.
Jonathan Bartley, co leader of the Green Party, said:
“I’m pleased that Jeremy Corbyn is prepared to speak out against social cleansing, but he must realise that many of the worst examples of the practice are being committed by his own Labour councils.
“Lambeth council has been thumbing its nose at residents for years, acting against their wishes to stay in their homes, while ignoring the entirely workable, alternative proposals they have put forward which would create more truly affordable housing.
“If Jeremy were to come to Cressingham Gardens and Central Hill, he would quickly realise how important these estates are and what a crime it would be to demolish them. The wholesale destruction of communities is unnecessary and opposed by local people who live in them.”
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On your visit to Camberwell last week you spoke out against the practice of “social cleansing” which is having a destructive impact on communities across Lambeth. We were therefore disappointed to see your apparent endorsement of Lambeth Labour’s plan to bulldoze council estates - posing for a picture [a] backing the ‘1000 homes at council rent’ [b] scheme last Thursday (December 15). This plan is against the wishes of residents who live there and will destroy communities, forcing residents out of the area.
One of these communities is the Cressingham Gardens Estate, in Tulse Hill. Cressingham Gardens, you may remember, was brought up in a question put to Ed Miliband during the 2015 General Election leaders’ debates. The residents-led ‘Save Cressingham’ campaign has been fighting for years against council plans to demolish their homes. They have so far taken Lambeth Council to court twice, with one win already under their belt, and the second decision due in the next few weeks.
The residents have done more than push back against the council. They have come up with an alternative ‘People’s Plan’ which I urge you to support. Not only will the People’s Plan provide more additional homes at council rent than the Council's, but it will require just £10.9 million of investment - almost £100m less than the council’s - and, crucially, allow existing residents to stay where they are. It is a viable proposal but one that Lambeth councillors (including Matthew Bennett) rejected with barely a glance.
I have been in contact with residents and I’d like to extend an invitation for you to visit Cressingham Gardens estate, to meet members of the local community who have shown the most admirable strength under extreme pressure, and to hear about their vision of a future that works for people by working with them and giving them control. You could also come and see Central Hill Estate, just up the road and similarly threatened with completely unnecessary destruction. Doing so would, I’m sure, allow you to see the reality of the damage being done and the ‘social cleansing’ that threatens the communities.
Co-leader, The Green Party of England and Wales