Controversial Sale Of Police-Owned Homes Is Called Off

Residents can remain in their homes

Controversial evictions of residents living in police-owned homes in Raynes Park have been called off after a concerted campaign.

The Mayor's Office for Police and Crime (MOPAC) has been selling off residential properties across London as part of their 2013-16 Estate Strategy.

They were due to evict residents of Raynesfield in October, including many key workers such as nurses and teaching assistants.

But more than 1,800 people signed a petition opposing the scheme as the residents and local councillors rallied against their eviction.

Earlier this month, MOPAC said it was suspending the evictions while the plans were reviewed.

And after Deputy Mayor of London Stephen Greenhalgh came on a fact-finding mission to speak to the residents, he signed a formal decision to halt the sale process. He has also introduced new guidelines for how such issues are handled in future.

He said: "I wanted to speak with residents personally to understand their situation so we could find the best way forward. I was not happy with how they had been treated and I was not prepared to see key workers like nurses, carers and teachers, forced to move out of their homes.

"I have stopped the sale process for Raynesfield and introduced a new approach so that eviction of long-standing tenants, some of whom are key workers, cannot arise in future."

Merton Councillor Andrew Judge, who handed in the petition against eviction at City Hall in October, said: "These residents have been prepared to stand up for themselves. It is a real triumph of people power, and I am very pleased they will be able to remain in their homes."

West Barnes Lib Dem Councillor Mary-Jane Jeanes said: "The residents of Raynesfield have fought a successful campaign and should be very proud that they have saved their homes and forced the Mayor's office for police and crime (MOPAC) to change its strategy.

"London needs more social housing - not less; the Mayor of London should never have considered removing these properties from the social housing stock."

"However, there are still several issues that MOPAC needs to clarify as soon as possible:

  • Firstly, some of the residents who were forced to move out, want to return to their homes. Currently they are staying with friends and relatives.
  • Secondly, the tenants need to be given long term security, with assured tenancies.
  • Finally, MOPAC needs to compensate residents for van hire, storage costs, utility reconnection fees and so on - costs that they undertook because the deadline for the evictions was approaching. On the day before evictions were due to begin, some residents took their furniture to the tip or to charity shops; some now lack the basics, like beds and fridges."

There were 28 householders originally threatened with eviction, and eight had already found alternative accommodation.

Councillor Jeanes added: "The Deputy Mayor for policing and crime, Stephen Greenhalgh is quoted in the press as saying: 'I was not happy about how they (the residents) had been treated and I was not prepared to see key workers ... forced to move out of their homes'. But it was his policy to sell off these residential properties so he, and MOPAC, are therefore responsible for how the residents have been treated.  

"Also, the photograph of Deputy Mayor Greenhalgh with Stephen Hammond MP and Conservative councillors that accompanies their press release annoucing the u-turn, smacks of blatant political opportunism.

"At the Merton Council meeting on November 19, Cllr Gilli Lewis-Lavender told councillors it was both necessary to sell off these properties, and that residents had been given a lot of notice of the evictions. At that meeting, not one of Merton's Conservative councillors supported a motion calling on Boris Johnson and MOPAC to halt the evictions. And yet, Cllr Lewis-Lavender was in the photo celebrating the evictions being called off.

"And I have not found one tenant who says they were helped by MP Stephen Hammond on this issue."

The eviction of a number of MOPAC affordable homes in Griffiths Road, South Wimbledon, has already gone ahead.

November 28, 2014

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Pictured visiting Raynesfield are (L-R) Richard Tracey AM; Cllr Gilli Lewis-Lavender (West Barnes Councillor); Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon MP; Stephen Greenhalgh (Deputy Mayor for Policing & Crime); and Cllr Brian Lewis-Lavender (West Barnes Cllr)