Robin Wales’ Vision for Newham – social cleansing and gentrification

Below is an extract from Robin Wales’ Vision document from 1997. It makes clear his contempt for Newham’s service users and any people who want to move to the borough who are not ‘his kind of people’.

How this attitude has manifested itself in the two subsequent decades is all too apparent (e.g. see here). The claimed reason for the policy to increase property prices and rents (to swap Newham’s population with a richer one) has predictably failed. Rent and house price increases have merely further impoverished many Newham residents and enriched its private landlords (many of whom are Newham Councillors, who have done very nicely out of this, thank you very much). It has concentrated ownership in fewer hands – see:

Newham’s residents who are not part of the landlord set are stuck in a rent-trap that many could never hope to escape from. Those who haven’t been driven out of the borough that is.


 

Below is an extract from The Vision document produced in May 1997 by Robin Wales, then-leader of Newham Council, now Newham’s Mayor
Our vision for Newham

Sustainable communities

This means promoting communities which have the mix of people who can contribute what Newham needs to prosper. Our anti-poverty and equalities strategies are both critical to this aim. Regeneration will only be sustained if these social conditions are present. What is required is increased housing choice, greater diversity of quality housing and incentives to attract people to stay who have the means to move elsewhere.

People only stay in communities where they feel safe and free from harassment, and where they have access to good shopping, parks, arts and entertainment. In Newham persuading the young generation of Asians and minority ethnic communities to stay would make an enormous and positive difference. The Local Showcase approach will help deliver these improvements.

There are too many people, those currently living in Newham and those attracted from other London boroughs, who survive on low incomes or who present themselves as homeless. Whilst we will offer support and carry out our legislative duties, our aim will be to increase Newham’s property values and raise the income profile of all our residents.

What we must take action to avoid is a continued flow of people from other boroughs requiring sustained support. With Newham’s current property values and informal local networks, this is a real threat that cannot be ignored.


Addendum – Newham’s Best Value Pilot from September 1997

Another of Robin Wales’ more-Blairite-than-Blair policies, his aggressive outsourcing and attacks on council staff pay and conditions was made clear in 1997, and continues to this day with his latest disgraceful anti-worker plans.

Newham’s 1997 Best Value Pilot – extract

1.4 Newham’s Best Value Foundations
We are not complacent nor do we underestimate what has to be done. Newham has in the past relied almost wholly on Council provided services. This reflected both political preferences and an often inadequate local supply. This approach will change with the Council’s commitment to a diversity of suppliers. We are setting the following targets for the 3 year planning period:

  • Move over 5 years from 10% to 35% of services externally supplied
  • Overall cost savings of 5% over 3 years
  • Improvement in service quality levels of 10% over 3 years.
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