Willow Lane Industrial Estate is home to a plethora of successful businesses in my constituency. From timber windows to motor works, scaffolders to joiners, it is one of the busiest industrial estates in South London. But almost 2 years ago now there was a peculiar change in the estate. The businesses began to notice prams walking before their front doors. They began to notice children playing whilst their lorries and vans raced through. They began to notice hundreds of residents using their working industrial estate as a home.
Local authorities can no longer cope. They are doing all they can to keep families off the street. The video below shows the plight of 84 families and over 200 children living in a south London warehouse. This crisis is every bit as bad as ‘Cathy come home’ in the 60s.
Connect House is at the heart
of Willow Lane Industrial Estate and houses 84 families who have been placed
here by four different local authorities: Bromley, Sutton, Croydon and Merton. To reach the
nearest amenities, the residents have to walk through the industrial estate
itself. Cars line the pavement forcing those families with prams or wheelchairs
into the lorry-filled road. It is fair to say that the local workers are simply
not expecting 84 families to live within their working industrial estate. A
busy car park is no place for the hundreds of children living in this building.
The Guardian visited Connect House to hear what daily life is like. You can see their powerful video here:
It was also discussed live on air by LBC Radio and you can see their accompanying piece here:
150 children are living in this modern-day slum in south London - and it's affecting their health. pic.twitter.com/P4XMKJDxtw
Due to the national government’s policy of getting out of public housing (social housing has halved since 2010) we now have a housing crisis with 120,170 children in temporary emergency housing or on the move every 6 or 12 months due to insecure tenancies. The impact on their education and well-being has not yet been calculated.
Over 28% of 78,180 households
in temporary accommodation are housed outside their local authority’s area, a
simply remarkable increase of 248% between March 2011 and March 2017. As of
June this year, 6,660 households are being temporarily housed in B&Bs –
twice as many as in 2011 and almost 3 times as many as when the Conservatives
came to power in 2010.
This housing situation is
terrible for families and unbelievably expensive for the tax payer. Since 2010
Government has spent an additional £10 billion to house families in temporary or
private rented accommodation.
Siobhain's campaign has been covered widely by national media. Below is one of several BBC reports on the issue.
Please be aware that the suggestion at the end of this report that all 4 councils are moving residents out of this building is not correct.
We must call on the
Government to ensure temporary housing meets suitable standards; that local
authorities have a designated officer made aware of a family’s arrival; and
that the law is enforced so that no family is housed in abhorrent B&Bs for
longer than 6 weeks.
You can watch and read further reports from Siobhain's campaign here: