December 6 2013 Latest news:
by Flora Drury
Sunday, March 3, 2013
The Metropolitan Police have been accused of “Cockney cleansing” by a Muswell Hill woman who is being forced out of her home so the Met can boost its coffers.
Evie Dixon and her two children are among 21 families threatened with eviction after the Met confirmed it would send the bailiffs to their block in Connaught Gardens in the next six weeks.
The Met plans to sell the block –currently run by Crown Housing Association – to help plug the hole in its finances.
The families were originally meant to be evicted last October, but won a temporary reprieve.
The majority of residents – some of whom have lived in their homes for more than 20 years – have been told they will either have to rent privately, which could add £1,000 per month to their bills, or make themselves homeless and join Haringey Council’s waiting list.
Ms Dixon, who has lived in her house for 13 years, said: “If you go homeless, you are liable to be put outside London. I was born here. My children go to school here. It affects our families, our friends.
“They do not care about the human cost. It’s an awful situation. It’s having a detrimental effect on my children, because they don’t know what’s going to happen. It does not give them much hope as teenagers. It is cockney cleansing.”
So desperate are the families that they travelled to Scotland Yard in a last-ditch attempt to get the Met to rethink, before they are cast out of the homes they love in as little as a week’s time.
For neighbour Caroline Gallagher, the news that she will have to find a new home has been a double blow – the Met made her redundant from her role in the traffic department just a year ago.
“I worked for the Met for 26 years and now they are kicking me out of my house,” she said. “My children were babies here. Stupidly, I thought it would be my home for life.”
But she is not just angry with the Met. Ms Gallagher also questions why the housing association hasn’t made contingency plans for the residents after first announcing the plans five years ago.
“We kept thinking it would be OK because literally nothing happened until a few months ago. If Crown knew years ago, why didn’t they work with each family to find them a new home?”
She added: “We don’t want to be forced to leave here, then five years down the line it is still empty. Why can’t they let us stay until then?”
A police spokesman said: “The land had been leased to Crown Housing Association to provide non-permanent accommodation for their own tenants who hold short-term leases.
“The lease expired in December 2012.
“We continue to work closely with Crown regarding arrangements with current occupiers before we proceed to market.”
Crown chief executive Nick Wood said they too had been working to find their tenants new homes.
“Clearly, this [evicting people] is not something we would wish to do,” he said.