On Saturday 18th November the annual Southwark Tenants Conference was held at the Salvation Army Church in Camberwell in conjunction with Southwark Group of Tenants Organisations and Southwark Council.
The conference began with a speech by Loretta Lees (Professor of Human Geography at Leicester University) which exposed the rampant social cleansing and gentrification of the borough of Southwark by the council, and the deterimental effect it has on local people.
There were a selection of workshops on issues including Universal Credit, The Southwark Conversation, Preventing Child Exploitation and Tenant Involvement.
What was strikingly clear from the conference was the sheer anger of Southwark residents over the demolition and ‘regeneration’ of Council estates and many residents voiced their anger on this.
The conference ended with a ‘Question Time’ style session with Cllr. Anood Al-Samurai (Leader of Southwark Lib Dem’s) Cllr. Mark Williams (Cabinet Member for Regeneration) and Cllr. Stephanie Cryan (Cabinet Member for Housing)
The audience grilled both Labour councillors on issues ranging from corruption, money laundering, inappropriate relationships with developers, regeneration schemes and estate demolition. The Cabinet members; whilst appearing clearly uncomfortable, tried their best to defend the council’s position over these issues despite receiving scathing feedback from the residents themselves.
Cllr. Mark Williams; whilst attempting to reassure residents over regeneration plans, was called out as a ‘liar’ by Tanya Murat of ‘Defend Council Housing’ but denied any dishonesty.