Lambeth eviction endangers life of 80-year-old housing co-op resident, Tony Healy


An urgent update to the story of 81-year-old housing co-op resident Tony Healy, whose case is detailed below.

Lambeth Council is very aware of Tony Healy’s vulnerability and his state of mind regarding his eviction – and this has been the case since, at least, April 2015 when all of the parliamentary candidates wrote to the chief executive about Tony, but it has also been evident in his dealings with Lambeth officers.

The council backed off moving against Tony in 2015, but rather than engage with the issue constructively, in ways suggested by the parliamentary candidates, they have just sat on the eviction threat without ever dropping it – and it is this threat has been responsible for a huge amount of anxiety and caused Tony to lose all hope.

Let’s be clear – there is an inextricable link between Tony’s health and the love he has for his house.

The latest eviction notice arrived with Tony last week, even though it was dated February 5th. It’s not uncommon that notices have arrived late and made it difficult to do anything about them.

Lambeth Council and medical professionals visited Tony on 2nd March [2016] trying to convince him to move voluntarily. Even though it was clear that he would not move and the eviction threat was making him very anxious, the council still went ahead with the eviction notice to send bailliffs to forcibly move him on Friday 4 March.

Tony needed a commitment from Lambeth that they would not evict him – the council were putting his life in danger.

That commitment did not come despite massive pressure from neighbours and campaigners from the evening of Wednesday 2nd March when the news of the eviction notice was beginning to be communicated around a network of friends and supporters.

On Thursday, the pressure was stepped up, but Lambeth replied to enquiries very late in the afternoon and in a very vague manner – crucially, they did not offer to drop the eviction.

On the evening of Thursday 3 March Tony, returning from a local shop, found that someone had entered the property and left a note saying that he would be sectioned. The note said that this could not again be acted upon within 3 months.

Tony was happy within his community and never did himself or anyone else any harm. It was only the threat of eviction that mase him feel that life was not worth living. A fact we made abundantly clear to Lambeth and has been clear to them for some time.

On Friday morning at around 1am Tony was taken to hospital. We later found out that another section order had been raised in order for this to happen.

Neighbours and former neighbours have now visited him in hospital and discovered that he had broken his hip and arm. After a few of us visited Tony, we ascertained that these injuries appeared to have happened accidentally.

We are relived that Tony is safe, and it is clear that the actions of friends, neighbours and activists underlined the the danger Tony was in. However, we are extremely unhappy that the council chose to go through with the eviction that brought about the problem in the first place, having to resort to sectioning when another, less drastic approach would have kept Tony safe and not have distressed him.

The only people that would have disadvantaged was the council who appear to want to get the rest of Tony’s street secured. It would seem that Lambeth have a buyer waiting in the wings to take over the rest of the houses as a ‘job lot’ and with the end of the financial year coming, the pressure to sell is dictating the eviction policy.

Meanwhile, Tony has no family, nowhere to go, and he has lived in the co-op for 30 years, safe within a community in which his eccentricity and creativity could thrive. Now that community has been destroyed by a reactionary Labour council that has placed no value on the co-ops except for financial gain.

Tony’s beloved house is all he has left.

Strenuous efforts are now being made to find out if Tony will be allowed to go back home when he is well enough and back to his belongings and his precious artwork (see link below within letter from parliamentary candidates). We repelled the bailiff on Friday, but we need to have answers soon.

Many questions have bee raised by this episode. Lambeth’s priorities, and their actions to support them, are highly questionable and Tony’s story is one of a large number of incidences that should be investigated in full.

More as soon as we have it. Meanwhile sign the petition to get Tony back home –

A reminder about what happened last year with Tony’s case…will Lambeth never learn?

Photo Sign 5

The 4 Vauxhall parliamentary candidates – from the Conservatives, Greens, Labour and the Liberal Democrats – have joined together in unique show of unity to raise the fate of the remaining ‘shortlife’ housing co-op residents who are either vulnerable themselves or have vulnerable family members.

Please see below the text of the letter to Lambeth Chief Executive, Sean Harriss, from the candidates. A PDF scan of the candidates signatures can be provided on request, the reason it has not been provided here was to avoid releasing private address information.

Also attached is a photograph of the candidates with the letter, taken outside of the Town Hall, Brixton. More photos here:

Sean Harriss
Chief Executive, London Borough of Lambeth
Lambeth Town Hall
Brixton Hill
London SW2 1RW

April 6, 2015

Dear Mr Harriss,

You may not yet have been briefed about Lambeth Council’s policy of evicting longterm ‘Shortlife tenants’ of former Co-ops.

Eighty-year-old Lambeth resident Tony Healy, who lives at [name and address supplied] is currently under threat of eviction due to the council’s policy of ‘shortlife recall’ which has affected a number of OAPs. in the borough.

As he was unable to obtain Legal Aid, Mr Healy recently represented himself in court to defend his house of 30+ years against Lambeth Council, but he lost the case.

During his time living in his community, Tony turned his house into an art installation with fantastic wall decorations that have been lovingly put together. A PDF of some of his work is attached – Tony Healey. Not only is his home under threat, but so is an unique feature of the local area and community.

Tony’s remaining neighbours want Tony, a vulnerable and eccentric OAP, to look after himself and the best way to do that is for him to know that his art will be cherished and also his home of 30 years. As I am sure you know, moving elderly residents, especially in traumatic circumstances, can have a very detrimental effect on their life expectancy.

While his neighbours have attempted to give some assurance about satisfactory rehousing, they, of course, understand his determination to stay and that the best assurance of safeguarding his work would be to let Tony live out the rest of his natural life in his home.

Now that the council has raised more than projected by the sale of ‘shortlife’ housing co-ops – although it has not indicated where this money is going – it is time to re-assess the action against the remaining residents who have not taken up rehousing. All of these people live in houses that are amongst some of the best examples of tenant-improved properties in the borough. Furthermore all have played an active role in their communities over the years.

We strongly believe that a way should be found to allow these residents to remain in their homes where exceptional circumstances apply. This is not a matter of political policy but of finding a compassionate way to solve this issue.

We look forward to your response on this and hope that constructive and pragmatic solutions can be offered. We would be quite happy to meet with you if that would be helpful.

You will see that all 4 of us are parliamentary candidates for Vauxhall and we think this shows how strongly we feel about this matter that we are sending this joint letter during a General Election campaign.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

James Bellis, The Conservative Party
Gulnar Hasnain, The Green Party
Kate Hoey, The Labour Party
Adrian Trett, Liberal Democrats

6 Responses to Lambeth eviction endangers life of 80-year-old housing co-op resident, Tony Healy

  1. Marie baker says:

    this is how politics should be

  2. Juliette Martinez says:

    What Lambeth are doing is inhumane. Suddenly people are getting turfed out of their homes where they’ve lived for years. Why are there no laws to protect tenants anymore?

  3. Jamie Wrench says:

    As a former local government officer I can say I was paid a relatively large salary to reflect the responsiblity of making exceptions to the Council’s general policy from time to time. This looks like a case of earning your salary, Sean Hariss!

  4. Lin Moss says:

    Mr Harriss, as the leader of a diverse and wonderful borough of Lambeth you must please show your compassion and professionalism in supporting the coop tenants who are so under threat and exhausted from the situation and uncertainty that they have had to endure for so many years. Please, please let them stay and be given proper tenancies and peace of mind so that they can relax and feel secure and safe in their homes at last.

  5. Judit perez says:

    Stop destroying communities in Lambeth.

  6. Torla Evans says:

    I’m dumbstruck at the inhumane attitude of Lambeth Council whose job it should be to use discretion and humanity where an elderly and vulnerable tenant is being hounded out of his home of 30 years. You were quite happy for him to live there when Clapham was not as gentrified as it is today. I know the house will sell for a lot on the open market but it is your duty to protect this poor man and , at the very least , to provide suitable alternative accommodation nearby .

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