This morning nearly 20 Sweets Way residents – including children and teenagers – arrived at Annington Homes’ Central London offices to give a letter to Annington’s Chief Exectuve James Hopkins (who, it is worth noting, makes over £2.5million a year to socially cleanse communities like ours). When the children arrived, security locked the door and hung-up on us every time we tried to call them.
This is the letter we finally pushed through the mail slot, though police told us that Annington told them that they would not receive our letter. So here it is for the rest of you!
TO: Mr James Hopkins, Chief Executive, Annington
Dear Mr Hopkins –
We are a group of concerned residents and ex-residents of the Sweets Way estate in Barnet and our supporters. We, the people who have lived here and made this our community, feel our needs have been completely ignored by your plans to ‘regenerate’ our estate.
Since you announced that your 2nd planning application was given the go-ahead by Barnet Council, our lives have been turned upside down. Some of us have been uprooted from our homes, others are holding on to them with everything we’ve got, struggling with the daily stress of not knowing what lies ahead.
Your choices are physically, emotionally and financially affecting us for the worse. Our lives and our children’s lives have been thrown into chaos, whether we are those still on the estate, or those moved into far-flung emergency accommodation.
Our kids struggle to get to classes from emergency flats several boroughs away; the travel required is expensive and exhausting; we live each day uncertain if bailiffs might come knocking at our doors.
We have searched high and low to find alternative housing that is appropriate for our health, our work and our children’s education. We have repeatedly hit dead ends, knocking our heads against the walls with both Barnet Homes and countless estate agents. There is nothing out there for us, yet these perfectly good homes are facing demolition.
You can blame Barnet Homes for our situations, but you are the ones who have made the choice to bulldoze the perfectly good homes we’ve got, and replace them with ones that none of us will be able to afford. The utter lack of truly affordable housing in your planning applications demonstrates that you have chosen to put your own profits over all of our lives.
There are countless planning options that your company could have explored, that would have kept us together, but you chose to ignore those of us that your website claims that you ‘bring life to.’ The content of your two planning applications makes perfectly clear what you think of those of us who live here; that if we can’t afford full market rent, than we simply have no right to a home and a community. This is nothing more than social cleansing and we will bring back life to our estate together.
Thankfully we are not alone; we have supported one another through these terrible times and grown closer as a community. We have also met supporters and allies from other housing campaigns around Barnet and London, and we are committed to standing together to fight social cleansing, across the borough and the city. We would like to invite you come to Sweets Way and see the community you are breaking up, and the homes your plans will leave empty. Maybe these buildings aren’t enough for your tastes, but for us they are still home.
We have occupied one of the recently empty homes at 60 Sweets Way and turned it into a buzzing social centre where we can organise together and support one another. We’d like you to come see this space in action and experience the situation at Sweets Way from our perspective.
We hope you will take our lives and our community as seriously as you would your own.
Sweets Way Resists
firstname.lastname@example.org / 07751687326