Cabinet backs motion condemning the actions of Westbrook Partners

Hackney Town Hall

Hackney Council's Cabinet last night backed a motion condemning the actions of Westbrook Partners, the owners of the New Era estate.

The Council has supported the estate’s 93 households and met with Westbrook Partners to urge them to sell to a housing association, following news that they planned to increase rents to market value – around three times the current rate.

The Committee rooms were packed to hear the emergency motion, proposed by Cllr Feryal Demirci, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Hoxton East and Shoreditch ward councillor, and seconded by Cllr Philip Glanville, Cabinet Member for Housing, on 15 December.

During the meeting, tenants told Cabinet members about their fears for their community. Danielle Molinari said that, if she was evicted, she and her young son would have to move out of London, away from her family and friends. “I’d be away from my support network; I wouldn’t be able to go back to work because I couldn’t afford childcare,” she said.

“We’re a tight knit community. We look out for each other and care about our neighbours.”

Tenants called on the Council to compulsorily purchase the estate. Mayor Jules Pipe explained that, due to government imposed spending caps on the Housing Revenue Account, Councils are unable to borrow that amount of money, which is why the Council is pressing Westbrook Partners to sell to a social landlord.

He went on to say that he did not want to prejudice their discussions, but assured residents that talks are ongoing.

The motion proposed the following.

This Council:

  • Believes it is entirely unacceptable that this community, with many long-standing tenants including many key workers, elderly and disabled can be subjected to such practices, with many facing extreme rent hikes that will make it impossible for them to remain in their homes.
  •  Urges the owners, Westbrook Partners, to either continue renting homes at affordable rents or sell the estate to a reputable and willing housing association, which the Council is happy to facilitate and help broker a deal.
  • Urges Westbrook Partners to engage with the tenants and Tenants Association as soon as possible
  • Believes that all tenants in the private sector should have longer tenancies, index-linked rent rises, and not have to pay up front fees to letting agents.

This Council resolves to continue supporting the residents in their campaign to stay in their homes and to continue working with the GLA, the Local MP and stakeholders to find a way forward for the New Era Estate that preserves its long- standing tradition of providing homes for local people on low incomes and a future for its community and to that end for the Council to write to Westbrook reiterating the above concerns.