Monday, 29 August 2011

An Open Letter to Southwark Council

Published in the Southwark News and the South London Press.
Councillor Ian Wingfield is threatening to evict any Southwark council tenant involved in the riots or, more likely, any member of their family involved. Let us hope that as the weeks go by the Council comes up with a more forward-looking policy.

Already it is apparent that anybody who comes before the courts on a riot-related charge is very likely to end up in jail. Does the Council really think that a second sentence, that only applies to Council tenants, is the right way to proceed ? Such a second sentence of losing their home is likely to produce a breed of young person who feels - with some justification - that the whole of society is against them. It also makes it very difficult for parents trying to keep a home together, ready for when they get out.

The failure to invest in Council housing and the stigmatising of Council tenants has already produced a distinct feeling of alienation among young people on our estates.  Without jobs or training for the future, the future looks grim indeed and further cuts can only worsen the prospect.

Concils already have powers to deal with nuisance behaviour affecting neighbours and estates. But if Southwark and other Councils add this unfair burden to families of those convicted, the long term effect will be disastrous.

Mary Phillips, Southwark Defend Council Housing

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