Barking housing Westminster demo

THE PEOPLE power of Barking & Dagenham was demonstrated last week as the biggest community rally the borough has ever seen took to the streets of central London. From the tiniest tots with their mums and dads to elderly folk with their carers, families ca

THE PEOPLE power of Barking & Dagenham was demonstrated last week as the biggest community rally the borough has ever seen took to the streets of central London.

From the tiniest tots with their mums and dads to elderly folk with their carers, families came to Westminster to Stand Up for Local Housing.

The campaign hopes to tackle the borough's most widespread problem - poor standards of housing and a lack of council homes.

Residents made their voices heard over this burning issue as they met Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas and Minister for Housing John Healey at Central Hall in Parliament Square.


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Spearheaded by Cllr Phil Waker, executive member for housing, and council leader, Cllr Liam Smith, the mass petition aims to change the Government's housing debt policies.

At the moment the borough is the largest contributor in the country to the Historical Housing Debt, paying in about �20million a year - next year this will rise to �24million.

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This is �30 per week out of each council tenant's pocket that is taken out of the borough and cannot be spent on minor and major repairs to homes.

The housing debt system pays out to other areas of the country which have a housing debt - even though they may be financially better off than Barking & Dagenham.

Residents from two of the borough's most decaying estates, The Leys and Goresbrook Village, went on the rally and march to Downing Street last week.

Those worst affected by appalling housing conditions such as mould, damp and asbestos were able to speak with Mr Healey.

Chairman of the Leys TRA, Mike Pennock, said: "He was extremely positive about a possible pilot scheme which would see Barking & Dagenham allowed out of paying into the national housing debt.

Drums

"I was very pleased by his attitude because we have some of the worst housing in the country, where children's health is being put at risk."

After the meeting there was a march to 10 Downing Street where Cllrs Phil Waker and Mayor Charles Fairbrass handed in a petition signed by thousands alongside MP Jon Cruddas and residents.

Hundreds of people waited outside the gates with teenagers and children banging their drums. There were shouts of: "What do we want? Housing! When do we want it? Now!

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