Council battle landlord in ‘fight for soul of Islington’
- Credit: Archant
Group home residents have one week until they are “decanted” from property
Vulnerable adults living in a “unique” Islington community are fighting plans to chuck them out of their home next week.
The community at 38 to 44 Islington Park Street, a communal home of 19 residents made up of four joined Victorian houses, is a group home where members have lived together and looked after each others’ care needs since 1976.
But landlord One Housing say the community is an inefficient use of the property, which is worth about £12million, and has told residents they will be “decanted” by Monday, July 5.
The residents, whose ages range from 19 to 79, protested outside the town hall on Thursday before a meeting in which councillors passed an emergency motion to do all it could to prevent the community being broken up.
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Graham Clipsham, 68, has lived in the community since 1979.
He said: “It’s all profit, they’re not interested in social housing, they’re only interested in social cleansing.
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“This way of living absolutely works wonders.
“Rather than people living isolated lives when they are elderly and disabled this offers people a very good way of life.
“If you’re sick here, someone will come and check in on you. I’ve had a quadruple heart bypass, so this kind of support has been really important to me.”
One of the residents, Keith Soutar, 79, suffers from Parkinson’s and is currently looked after by the community. They fear he would be put into a residential home if the commune is disbanded.
“At the moment we’re looking after him, it allows him to stay independent. We’re saving the council a lot of money.”
An emergency motion put forward by Cllr Gary Poole, who represents St Mary’s ward, resolved to call upon One Housing to suspend the notices for quit, ask them to engage in dialogue with the Council and work with residents to formalise the tenancy agreements, management arrangements, and allocations policy.
Cllr Poole, whose comments received a standing ovation from fellow councillors, said: “The fight to save Islington Park Street is nothing short of a battle for the soul of our community.”
Cllr James Murray, executive member for housing an development, said: “One Housing are making this choice. When I wrote to them they wrote back and they did not rule out selling it off.
“I’m pretty sure that’s what they want to do.
“We need to work out every possible angle that we have.”
But One Housing said the way the situation was being represented was not the reality.
Paul Fawcett, spokesman for One Housing, said: “There’s a huge assumption where this is being portrayed as a developer turfing people out to cash in.
“People think ‘one housing are kicking them out to make a lot of money’, that’s simply not true.
“We have no plans at this moment in time for what we will do with that building.
“We’re a registered social landlord, we have a legal and ethical responsibility to deliver the maximum amount of social housing that we can.
“We’re committed over the next five years to finding 3,600 new homes. We’ve got to find the money to do that somewhere and there are no government grants.
“We’re in no doubt that some of the people living there would meet the requirements for social housing, but others would not.
“If there are people with care needs, while it might on the surface sound lovely that their house mates are looking after them, care is regulated for a reason.
“We have a duty of care to make sure that the care that is being provided is appropriate.”