Building up the
Last month was a good month. I met Bouygues the preferred
developers we have selected to work on improving the town centre
area of Canning Town.
We have been working on this for a long time and I would like to
thank local people for their patience. But now we will begin to
build the new Canning Town and I believe you will find it a big
improvement on the past.
People there are proud of the area and its history. It really
has been neglected for too long, so we will be spending millions of
pounds to make it the sort of place the people who live there
Housing, and in particular social housing (the term used for
council and housing association properties), has long been a
There is a huge queue for this type of housing. One of the
biggest complaints in the past has been that people have been able
to 'queue jump'. The British are a tolerant people but they hate to
see somebody get something they are not entitled to - we hate
That is why in Newham we have for some years tried to allocate
social housing on a first come, first served basis. The longer you
wait the further up the queue you are - which seems fair to me.
There are some exceptions, required by the law, but by and large
you wait your turn.
To get a house there is a long wait, but that is because we were
made to sell off council housing in the 1980s with the money going
in tax cuts to the rich. I argue that it was OK to sell council
housing, but shouldn't we have bought new houses with the money we
raised to replace the properties we were losing?
The Prime Minister last week made a speech where he said that
housing waiting lists had to be made fairer and, in effect,
supported the work we have been doing in Newham.
Incidentally, we are also asking the Government if we can borrow
money so we can build more social housing. In addition we will soon
be launching an 'equity share' offer where Newham people can buy a
share in a property along with the council. The aim is to persuade
people who want to give up their council home or come off the
waiting list and leave space for others.