Clapham Park privateers running scared


Tenants opposed to privatisation on the Clapham Park Estate in south London are putting across the case against selling off the estate but experiencing a real ‘democratic deficit’. Tactics by the predatory landlord show they are running scared of losing the ballot that ends next week.


The ballot has one more week to run but whilst the Clapham Park Project has put out another 20 page full colour brochure it is also ripping down any anti-transfer posters as soon as tenants put them up. Clapham Park Defend Council Housing has repeatedly tried to get CPP to debate the issues in a public meeting but they refuse. Worse still they have used their financial support for local community organisations to prevent DCH even being able to hire local halls. DCH will be having a public meeting tonight (Wednesday 7pm) in a pub back room – far from an ideal venue for this kind of meeting (Bank of Swans Pub (Back Bar) – corner Clarence Avenue and Poynders Road. So much for a ‘fair and balanced debate’!


CPP’s latest colour brochure also included an edited version of Polly Toynbee’s Guardian column. But they used the article without permission and edited out three paragraphs where Toynbee was in fact critical of the government’s privatisation policy.


Tenants on the estate have also recently received a newsletter from a so-called ‘Clapham Park Independent Stock Transfer Campaign’. The newsletter includes a column


“So who are these people encouraging you to vote no?

“Some are people from plush well-managed estates in Camden and Southwark…”

“Some are pagans and racists…”

“Some are squatters and illegal occupiers…”


No contact details are given and its independence is suspect. An employee of CPP was seen distributing the newsletter. The back page also sports a nice photo montage of the estate that is clearly the same photos used on the back page of the CPP’s latest brochure. Clearly there was at best an ‘overlap’ between the production processes of the two publications.


Alan Walter of DCH said:


“Clapham Park Project is funded by public money from New Deal for Communities. It is scandalous that they are being allowed to circumvent a proper democratic debate over whether tenants should agree to sell off their estate. There should be an independent investigation into the link between these two publications. If it is proven CPP should be closed down and action taken against their senior management.


We heard evidence from Clapham Park tenants at the Council Housing group’s inquiry at the House of Commons last week. This included reports of tenants meetings being taken over, longstanding tenants and residents associations being ignored and their views falsely reported and financial irregularities.


This ballot is being held in Housing Minister, Keith Hill’s own constituency. He’s said publicly that tenants should hear “equal information about the pros and cons of the various options“. He should be embarrassed at the undemocratic way that ballots under his jurisdiction are being conducted.


One of the major issues on Clapham Park is demolition of half the estate. The experience in Sunderland where SHG have failed to build the new homes they promised shows how commitments made by these new landlords in order to win tenant support don’t always materialise once the asset has been transferred. (see Sunderland Echo 15 march 2005)