Saturday, 30 April 2016

Where, this week, to find Stella Creasy MP for Walthamstow

  • Sunday 1 May - leading the Cooperative Party Campaign Day For Sadiq Khan and then holding a public meeting on unaccompanied child refugees with Lord Alf Dubs. Details of both and how to join below.
  • Monday 2nd May- attending the Lloyd Park Dog Show. 
  • Thursday 5th May - campaigning in the London Mayoral elections in Walthamstow 
  • Lord Dubs (Alf Dubs)
  • Friday 6th May - holding a residents advice surgery by appointment. Please call 020 8521 1223 to attend.

If you wish to join the meeting with Lord Dubs you can sign up on line via facebook to RSVP or by email to help us plan for logistics - please note the Kitchen team would also welcome fresh donations of bread, biscuits, cakes and vegetables (garlic ginger fresh green herbs and lemons onions especially) on the 4th or 5th May to be driven out there the night of the 5th. Residents can also make donations to the kitchen of money - £5 will buy one kilo of spice.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

"A charity selling off its housing is a new low for gentrification" Stella Creasy MP in The Guardian

Writing in the Guardian online today Stella Creasy MP asks: "Who should pay the human cost of somewhere being labelled an up-and-coming place to live? It’s a question the residents of the Butterfields estate have been asking since eviction notices arrived in early February. This was the first they knew that their homes in highly desirable Walthamstow Village had been sold by their previous owners, the charity Glasspool, to a private developer.

That developer, Butterfields E17 Ltd, borrowed millions of pounds from NatWest to finance this deal. The plan was simple enough: exploit London’s property boom by selling on the properties as quickly and at as high a price as possible. The only thing standing in the way? Sixty-three tenants and their families living there.

This case tells you everything about the impact of gentrification now engulfing London and beyond, with speculative developers, callous banks and even a charity that should know better. Since it bought the estate, Butterfields E17 Ltd has sent bullying letters to the residents. Those interested in buying the estate as a going concern have received short shrift. That long-standing locals face homelessness and poverty means little to developers convinced they can make a quick buck at auction.

Glasspool, NatWest and Butterfields E17 Ltd all blame each other – and all wish the tenants would just go quietly

None of this could go ahead without its backers, NatWest. The bank has defended its lack of action on the basis that it only has a responsibility to its customer, not those being evicted. This is in stark contrast to its ethics policy which claims that NatWest tries not to make loans “which could damage the bank’s reputation”. Butterfields E17 Ltd would have had to declare its intentions to borrow the money, as well as to put the properties up for auction. Either NatWest didn’t bother to ask, or approved a loan knowing full well it required the eviction of these families to be repaid.

Just as NatWest seems to have sacrificed its integrity for a fast profit to be made, so too the charity which sold the estate needs to account for its conduct too. When I met Keith Nunn, chair of the trustees of Glasspool, I asked what obligations he thought he had to those who are going to be homeless – his response was that “it happens”.

These families aren’t being evicted because “it happens”. They’re being evicted because a charity that says it wants to help those affected by homelessness saw an easy financial windfall and so sold off its estate to a grasping development company. Glasspool say it sought assurances that this wouldn’t happen, but the money it was offered seems to have salved any consciences when these failed to materialise. That these properties are being resold at a higher value so soon after the charity sold them also raises questions about the management of such valuable assets by its trustees – we still await confirmation from the Charity Commission that it is investigating this.

It’s not too late for NatWest to do the right thing. The bank could use its status as a lender to Butterfields E17 Ltd to require the charity to negotiate with those who wish to buy the estate – including Dolphin Living, who rescued the New Era estate in similar circumstances – and keep the residents in their homes. The Charity Commission can challenge Glasspool’s refusal to take responsibility. As it has made approximately £16m, it seems only fair Glasspool compensates those who now face destitution as a direct result of their behaviour.

Under pressure, Glasspool, NatWest and Butterfields E17 Ltd all blame each other – and all wish the tenants would just go quietly. But the importance of this case goes well beyond the fate of an existing community in a property hotspot.

The lack of affordable housing for working people, as rents and prices are puffed up by such speculation, is hollowing out London. The taxpayer still owns 73% of this bank, so we will end up paying both to bail them out and to support the families made homeless by its customers. So too, bestowing benefits on organisations that act with such hypocrisy denigrates all who share its charitable status. If banks, businesses and even charities continue to pursue profit alone in our overheated property market, then it falls to the government to put people first before we are all gazumped.

Fighting for the Future of Butterfields: Parliamentary Debate 20th April

In her weekly 'working for Walthamstow' newsletter this week Stella Creasy mp writes:

"On Wednesday 20th April at approximately 7.20 pm I have secured a parliamentary debate on the future of the Butterfields estate in Walthamstow in the main parliamentary chamber. This is an opportunity for us to request the Government assist our community in challenging the conduct of the charity Glasspools, the bank Natwest and the development company Butterfields E17 Ltd in how they have treated the 63 families who live on this estate at present.

"I have been working with the residents of this estate for several months now, following the decision of Glasspools - a charity with a charitable purpose to prevent destitution- to sell all the properties to a private developer in an attempt to make money out of London's overheated housing market. This deal was financed by the Natwest Bank and overseen by the Charity Commission, so it raises a number of questions about their conduct. I will be asking the Government to help us address these, as we seek to try to help those residents currently facing eviction from their family homes by the developer who wishes to sell on their homes. You can view this debate on the parliamentary TV which will follow the main business of the house. 

"You can read more about some of the work going on to challenge the conduct of these organisations here - at present the key priority is that all residents have legal representation, as it is clear that the company who have bought the estate are seeking to undermine their rights as tenants as they try to empty the estate for a quick sale. To help fund their legal costs and the protection proper representation will offer these families there is a fundraising evening at the Rose and Crown for the Butterfields Won't Budge campaign onThursday 21st April with Geoff Boyz, Susan Murray, Pam Ford, Maureen Younger and MC David Alfie Ward. To purchase tickets for the comedy night please click here."

Where, this week, to find Stella Creasy MP for Walthamstow

  • Monday 18th April- holding a reception for Walthamstow residents to support patient involvement in the NHS in parliament.
  • Tuesday 19th April - leading a campaigning session for Sadiq Khan in central London.
  • Wednesday 20th April- speaking up for the residents of the Butterfields Estate in parliament. 
  • Thursday 21st April - running a women's leadership workshop in Brighton. To book a place visit here. 
  • Saturday 23rd April - speaking at Marie Claire live about women and leadership and then running a campaign training session in Watford. To sign up visit here
  • Sunday 24th April - leading a campaigning session in Walthamstow for Sadiq Khan. Join us at 3pm. 

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Where, this week, to find Stella Creasy MP for Walthamstow

  • Saturday 9th April - participating in the Waltham Forest Labour Women's Campaign day. Details in Diary column
  • Sunday 10th April - running a free Cooperative Action Network training event for activists in central London. To sign up follow this link
  • Monday 11th April- returning to parliament following the Easter recess.
  • Tuesday 12th April - taking part in Foreign Office Question Time
  • Wednesday 13th April - hosting the Cooperative Party London Mayoral Fundraising Event in Walthamstow. See below for how to book a ticket. 
  • Friday 15th April - running a free Cooperative Action Network training event for activists in Plymouth. To sign up follow this link. 
  • Sunday 17th April - taking part in Joe Well's Political Think Tank discussion at the Hen and Chickens Theatre in Islington.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Join Stella Creasy MP this Sunday

the co-operative party
politics for people

From environmental and consumer protections to taking on the payday lenders and securing a credit union for the armed forces - history shows that when we're bold and ambitious, the Co-operative Party and co-operative movement can achieve great things that change our world.

Through the new Co-operative Action Network, we're working with Stella Creasy MP and members and supporters across the country in a series of workshops and events designed to help develop our campaigning as a Party. 
We've already had hundreds of people come along over the last few months and it would be great to have you join our growing team of activists. Our next event takes place in London on Sunday 10 April at 2-4pm - I hope to see you there.
Best wishes,

Shane Brogan
Membership Officer
Co-operative Party

Where to find Stella Creasy MP for Walthamstow, this week

  • Monday 4th April - Friday 8th April - holding residents advice surgery sessions each day in Walthamstow - for an appointment please call 020 8521 1223. Please note due to a problem with our office internet, at present there is a substantial delay in responding to correspondence from my office. It is our top priority for the week ahead to address this, and so I would ask residents to be patient as we seek to deal with the backlog in responses this has created. 
  • Sunday 10th April- running a Cooperative Action Network training event to help activists develop their campaigns. Click here to book your free place.