* Update January 2018: A Conservative-council-partnered housing charity, Dolphin Living, which bought the New Era Estate from Westbrook Partners, a New York investment fund, in 2014, wants to demolish and rebuild the 1930s Whitmore Road N1 5QA complex of flats and 12 shops. Dolphin says that until the work is completed, families on the estate will be homed from September next year 2019 in flats it has built near Haggerston station The social-housing company has given no details of rent levels
THE TENANTS of the New Era Estate in Hoxton are on their way to victory in their fight against proposed rent rises that would lead to flats being let for up to £2,000 a month.
The locals’ solidarity and strong resolve has led the Benyon Estate, the family company of Newbury MP Richard Benyon, to say it will sell its stake in the 96 redbrick flats and other premises so that it no longer has to manage them.
Benyon’s company wrote to residents that New Era residents did not want it involved in the estate.
Full-time mother Danielle Molinari told Loving Dalston the estate was built as social housing, not as a means for rich people to become even richer.
The tenants’ last protest mustered about 300 people, including writer-actor Jolyon Rubenstein and will-he, won’t-he-try-for-Mayor gadabout Russell Brand (who would, some protesters muttered, turn up for the opening of an envelope if there were an audience).
Molinari said: “We was so pleased with the turnout of people to support our peaceful protest with our neighbours, family friends and people from other housing estates who are going through similar things.
“The protest was peaceful and fun. We all had our children with us and they enjoyed the music and band who played all day at the event.”
For some people, the good news, first reported by The Guardian, came too late. Patricia Palmer had already cleared and closed her Whitmore Road bric-a-brac shop after having been told to expect an extremely high rent rise.
While she was explaining this to Loving Dalston, a grocer from near by brought her some surplus vegetables. Barely had she thanked him than he returned to his shop.
Palmer said: “This is how the real East End look out for one another.”
Cockney togetherness may be all they have, but it has been enough to defeat a wealthy Tory: Benyon is said to be one of the richest members of Parliament.
Whatever lies ahead, Danielle Molinari believes the estate is ready. She says: “The next stage is to carry out more protests: to win the fight to stay in our home and community.”
Campaigner Lindsey Garratt agreed. She told the The Guardian site yesterday that the idea that Westbrook might evict the tenants in the next few months – around Christmastime – showed that it was acting in “a desperate way”. Westbrook was unable to comment.
David Altheer 171114
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