The ‘Shortlife’ scandal in quotes


Despite notable silences from some senior Labour politicians, there has been a deluge of criticism of Lambeth’s eviction programme against 40-year-old ‘shortlife’ housing co-ops.


Kate Hoey MP has been unequivocal in her support:

“Lambeth must be condemned for the way it has behaved to these long-standing residents” is just a one many statements she has made against her own Labour council’s policy.


Mark Seddon, ex Labour Party NEC and former Editor of Tribune said:

“Who could have thought that a Labour Council, yes a Labour Council, Lambeth Council to be precise, could even be considering closing down housing co-operatives and selling people’s homes to developers. This is a shabby, reprehensible way to be treating people. If this were a Tory council behaving in this way, Labour would rightfully be condemning it. Lambeth Labour councillors should think again.”


Labour MP John McDonnell added:

“Forcing people out of their homes is no answer to London’s housing crisis. Councils like Lambeth should be encouraging housing co-ops not evicting them. I urge the council to think again and work with the co-op members not against them.”

Lambeth’s own ‘Co-operative Council’ commissioners (who include Labour grandee Matthew Taylor) have also raised serious concerns:

“I do certainly sympathise with your position and view that it would be in the spirit of the 2011 Housing commission report, for Lambeth to work with you more collaboratively.”

“I think it is important that they understand how to deal with legitimate challenges such as the ones you have raised. If they do not understand how to do this, there will be no hope for the development of a Cooperative Council.”

“Next time I see Steve [Reed], former Lambeth council leader and now Croydon North MP], I am going to encourage him to get a grip on matters before the project loses its credibility.”


Local residents including Vivienne Westwood have weighed in:

“It’s time for Lambeth to think again and negotiate an honourable settlement with long-standing residents, one that it has shown no desire to so far.”


Journalist and filmmaker John Pilger, another local resident, said:

“What has made Lambeth a special place is as a crucible of all of London, and a vital component of that are the housing co-operative communities. It seems almost incredible that Lambeth should take the axe to these. If this proceeds further, I shall seek the commissioning of a TV documentary for broadcast nationally, exposing such vandalism.”

Meanwhile, other s who support us inlcude Mark Thomas, Joanna Lumley, Maggi Hambling and Ken Loach who said: “It is deeply shocking that Lambeth Council are considering selling these houses.  The primary responsibility of the council is to the people it represents. The council should think again.  To contemplate evicting people in this way is shameful.” 


What about Labour councillors?  Well…

Lambeth’s own ruling group councillors including Cllrs Wellbelove, Haselden and O’Malley categorically stated their support of their “shortlife” constituents in leaflets (here:

“We have reminded colleagues and officers that some of these homes would not be standing if it was not for the work of the people living in them.”

“It would be senseless as well as expensive to evict people only to have to re-house them again.”

“Labour will continue to fight for your right to stay in your home.”

…and yet Cllr Haselden and Cllr Wellbelove since voted for our eviction – a betrayal of trust beyond belief!


Cllr Helen O’Malley is still clear about her support for us and recently said:

“I would most strongly urge the council to stop threatening their residents in so-called ‘shortlife’ housing.”


Meanwhile, Jonathan Bartley of The Green Party said: “Instead of supporting housing co-ops, ‘the co-operative council’ is selling off property, letting people down and leaving people in Lambeth with less affordable housing.”


Leader of Lambeth Liberal Democrats, Cllr Ashley Lumsden, said: “There are real concerns at the way the Labour council is rushing to evict people rather than working with them for a co-operative solution.”


Lambeth Conservative leader Cllr John Whelan said: “I hope that people are now aware of the huge human cost of these proposals and the impact on people.”


Even the people who come to buy our houses are not impressed!

“Why don’t they just give you tenancies?” one said.

“It’s ridiculous isn’t it, after 25-30 years or more?” said another

“I’d rather be dealing with Westminster, at least they are honest about being nasty.”

But also on the flipside of this, is one charming lady who typified the purge of a community:
“I’ve listened to what you have said about your community being here for nearly forty years but I don’t care, I want that house.”


After the Guardian article (link here: ) we were inundated with quotes from the public including:


“Typical modern politics. A grubby set of councillors who claim to claim to represent the local Labour party but behave more like Boris Johnston. It will be interesting to see if their local party takes any action against them.”


“Does Miliband’s Labour read this stuff? Do they know what is being done in their name? Robbins, Peck and the rest should be swiftly booted off any list. Lambeth has to be stopped in this inhumane behaviour.”


“If you come to an agreement with people on which they base their life decisions you stick to your word. Lambeth’s argument is, ‘Well, we got a lot of things wrong in the 80s and 90s,’ which seems an evasion of responsibility.”


“My neighbour, a man in his sixties, is about to be evicted. He is terrified at a time in his life when he should not be terrified about his future. It is absolutely wicked, please don’t appease yourself with the idea that this is some how for the greater good. This is not the way.”


“Lambeth eh? Don’t you just love those cuddly caring socialist values “putting people first” would be a good election slogan for Mr M. Now, just think what the uproar would be if this was, say, Kingston or Richmond upon Thames. As it is we shall see people telling us that the “wider picture” is what must prevail.”


“From my experience Lambeth wastes more money on the way they approach repairs and who they employ to do them and this is the first thing they should be looking at to cut costs. Social housing and co-ops are an asset and the people who are prepared to rebuild derelict houses should not be dismissed in favour of the developers quick buck. I cant even write about the way I was treated throughout this very stressful and upsetting process…maybe one day…”


“What an appalling but typical way for a bunch of greedy unprincipled bankers to behave…… Hang on these are Labour councillors.. now I’m really confused…”


“They are now chucking people out of their homes of 30 years and giving them no opportunity to at least rent the properties at a fair price (or any price at all). Private landlords wouldn’t be allowed to do that to sitting tenants, which is why the council doesn’t want to create a tenancy situation.”


“This policy is selling off social housing stock and pushing people on to the waiting list and the money raised will not go on new housing. The houses were worth nothing when the council abandoned them in the 1970s - are you really going to hang people using the property boom as your moral compass?!”


“Just another example of how difficult it is now to tell the difference between Labour and the Tories. Even any pretence at a difference with language is gone. Where is Miliband? Why isn’t he raising his voice in protest? Why hasn’t he ordered this sorry excuse for a human being to come to Labour HQ? Why hasn’t he visited the people involved? Sad, sickening and frightening.”


“Jimmy Rogers is undoubtedly the most respected person in the country when it comes to matters basketball. So a prestigious programme that put Brixton’s name in a positive light (before Brixton had artisanal cheese shops), produced the best basketballer in UK history and sent dozens of poor, mainly black boys to America and the UK to gain university degrees and become successful people. This man is a Brixton hero. And what do the council do but try to sell his house from underneath him. Scum.”


“This Council does not appear to have any values or principles. I call on Co-ops UK to remove their status as a Co-operative Council.”


“Lambeth has been circling these tenancies and properties like Carlton Mansions and Stockwell Park since before the Coalition cut funding. This case started in 2009. Before the current government were elected in fact.”


“If you had repaired and loved a home over decades, would you be happy with some other property? You profit from the hard work of good people who have just tried to make a happy life for themselves and their children.”


“Your actions may be legal but that does not make them the right thing to do. These properties are people’s HOMES – they are not just piles of cash. The only reason they have value is because the residents put in the time and effort to make them habitable, and because of the ridiculous price rises of the London housing market.”


“One of Lambeth’s Labour councillors has been saying to council tenants and housing association tenants, unabashedly, for several years, that there’s too much social housing in Lambeth. That’s really what’s going on here. They’re evicting all the ‘short lifers’ some of whom have been in their homes for over 30 years first. It will be the rest of us next. Maybe you should ask the canvassers about what Labour voters are saying on the doorsteps. It’s something that should really worry you.”


“Don’t think it s fair for the council to profiteer from the hard work of others. Particularly others who are probably not overly flush with cash. Just because the council may have the law on their side, doesn’t make them in the right.”


“Nobody should be kicked out of their home that they’ve lived in for years just so people like myself can come off the housing waiting list.”


“And Labour is involved…hmmm does anyone thinks that Ed will do any different? Keep on dreaming… Miliband is a coy hidden Tory, just like the labour people in Lambeth”


Meanwhile those of who have signed our petition have said:


“As a Lambeth resident, I cannot believe that my council can be so heartless, short-sighted and wrong-headed as this. This decision to evict will lead to all sorts of knock-on problems and costs – financial and social. Who could possibly vote for such a policy? – it smacks of one of the worst of the Tories’ policies – the ‘spare room subsidy.'”


“The disgrace of Lambeth Labour council is even known in France, from where I send my support to residents.”


“This is a betrayal of all the people that invested so much of their lives, resources and money and who ought to be completely secure in the homes that they created when Lambeth Council was incapable of making the properties into habitable and good homes. Then followed years of neglect, fraud and mismanagement by the Council. Now it wants to evict people for significant financial gain, and to add insult to injury will not even ringfence the money so callously raised for affordable housing. I thought Tony Blair gave Labour a bad name: Lambeth is exceeding even that pariah.”


“My Co-op was a strong community of empowered people, we were broken up four years ago. I am now lonely, and at the mercy of council contractors to get work done on my flat, which sometimes takes years.”


“It is breaking up long standing communities which include vulnerable and elderly people just so Lambeth can make a fast buck.”


“I have lived in Lambeth 30 years-the cooperative community have made Lambeth a better place while I have been here.”


“Disgraceful action on the part of Lambeth Housing at a time of a terrible housing crisis in the borough, down to their constant and longterm mismanagement.”


“As a former short-term co-op member and with 30 years experience in housing I know the effort put in by short life co-ops. Speaking as a Labour Party member I say: Shame on Lambeth Council and the Labour Party. Learn what co-operative means!”


“Throwing out the very people who kept these abandoned properties standing; reneging on agreement to work with the housing coops to keep people in their homes; lengthening housing lists and reducing housing capacity. How do you sleep at night Lib Peck?”


“It brings a lump to my throat thinking of being forced from my home. These people have worked to maintain and enjoy their homes. It would be both inhuman and short-sighted to make them leave their cherished homes.”


“Creating a community is an organic process it does not just happen it is the people who are part of it and who have a stake in it. That is why artistic communities work well as there is a common goal and like minded beliefs. It seems very heavy handed to me.”


“You have to wonder at the calibre of the councillor’s making these decisions. Just listened to Vanessa Feltz on Radio London pull the head of Lambeth Housing’s illogical, desperate argument to bits. The council saw £££££ signs and instead of sympathising with actual housing need they choose to collaborate with the drooling avaricious property industry. Even it was ‘good economics’, in this case the end doesn’t justify the means.”


To witness so called Labour politicians cracking the whip of Daily Mail is shameful. Your others and fathers are turning in their graves. Someone please rid us of these spineless career politicians, towing the party line, no matter how unjust. Only doing their job, where have we heard this before? Shameful. Corrupt. Uncivilised.”


“This is appalling behaviour on Lambeth’s part – a so called socialist local authority and hardly in keeping with their ‘co-operative’ council principals.”


“We have lived in the house since 1986/7. It was in such a bad state initially that the council themselves put it on a demolition list! We have worked on it since then and kept it in order. Not only is our family home being taken but a community has been destroyed. Class cleansing of the first order!”


“Even I, who’ve profited enormously from the sell-off of these properties, now think it’s gone far enough. Lib Peck should be publicly flogged for allowing this to happen on her watch after she had the chance to change Steve Reed’s short-sighted policy on ‘short-life’ and the ensuing destruction of these long established communities all for a measly few million. The developers/private landlords will be rubbing their hands with glee, I think they saw her coming…”


“As someone who once lived in so called short life housing, I think that Lambeth councils actions is disgraceful .The council ignored these houses for decades they were ‘unfit for habitation’. The council needs to liaise with the people who have lived in these communities in a ‘civilised’ not punitive manner.”


“This is disgraceful and a classic case of a local authority cashing in on a situation that they have quite happily chosen to ignore for the last 30 years.”


“These are homes not equity. Lambeth’s mismanagement led to a criminal deficit in its housing revenue account which is why they are selling these homes and other long-cycle voids that they failed to upkeep. All at a time of rocketing homelessness. Lambeth – ‘the co-operative council’ lol, should be enabling co-ops not destroying them. Permanent housing co-ops are willing to take these homes into management but Lambeth insist on market value, which means £500K for a dilapidated house in central Brixton! Even the large Housing Associations can’t buy at these prices. Communities destroyed and more profit for wealthy developers and sharks (ie private landlords). Brixton is filling with young professionals sharing homes in multiple occupation – they are the only ones who can afford to live here – families are forced out. Shame on you Lambeth.”


“There has to be another way of doing this without turfing people out of their homes, this has been the most stressful, damaging and depressing process. Leading to long term health impacts for those who have to leave the homes they carefully restored, lived in and loved. I hope the council don’t treat anyone else the way I was treated and others I know.”


“I’ve lived in my home for 34 years, I know every nail in the floorboards, every knot in the skirtings, every wobble in the 180 year old panes of glass… I don’t want to move, I love my home.”

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