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Brent Council accused of social cleansing as 197 households face eviction in South Kilburn

PUBLISHED: 09:30 18 October 2018 | UPDATED: 09:30 18 October 2018

Rihanna Bakri, 9, soon to be evicted from South Kilburn's Hereford House along with more than 100 others. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Rihanna Bakri, 9, soon to be evicted from South Kilburn's Hereford House along with more than 100 others. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Jonathan Goldberg

Brent Council has been accused of social cleansing by one of its own councillors as 197 households are forced to leave two blocks in Kilburn.

Some of the 117 families soon to be evicted from Hereford House in South Kilburn. Picture: Jonathan GoldbergSome of the 117 families soon to be evicted from Hereford House in South Kilburn. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Statutory homeless families placed in Hereford House and Exeter Court as temporary accommodation ahead of the blocks’ demolition have been told by chiefs they have to go. Brent says it made clear to them this would always be the case.

The buildings will be flattened to make way for new flats, whose tenants will include the social renters the estate housed originally.

Neighbours have been told to look for flats within the private sector – but say: “The private sector doesn’t want us.”

Floating support carer Donnallee King, who has a 14-year-old daughter, said: “There are so many families with young children. It’s too much.

“I don’t know what we’ll all do. My head is all over the place. We can’t go back to a hostel.”

She added: “Some people thought we were moving into some of the new blocks being built but the council said no.

“It will be people from outside. We are working in this area and we are the ones maintaining this community. It isn’t fair. They are going to drive us out of the community and send us to the private sector, which we can’t afford.”

Monique Maddix, who has a four-year-old son, added: “We’ve been given no guarantees.

“They said if we refuse what they offer us they will scrap our case. That could be a hostel, hotel, out of borough – we don’t know. They’ve given us a budget of £250 to £270 per week to find a private flat but nothing comes up when we look online.”

Upholsterer and dad-of-three Mohabbat Qurashi was evicted from rented accommodation in Wembley and has spent seven years on the register. He said: “We’ve been told to find private. When the council sent us to Kilburn two years ago they said it would be good for me because my work is not far. We’re happy here.”

Cllr Abdirazak Abdi (Lab, Kilburn) said: “The council is systematically running down the numbers of secure tenants in South Kilburn by not creating new secure tenants. Instead it creates large numbers of non-secure tenants with few rights, hence mass evictions. Clearly this fits the definition of social cleansing.”

Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council, said: “It’s always been made clear to those households taking up the short-term tenancies in Hereford House and Exeter Court, that it is a temporary solution until these properties are demolished as part of the regeneration scheme.

“We have also been open and transparent about the help that the council can offer when those works are set to take place, which is as much help as we are practicably able to provide.

“While any short-term housing solution is not ideal, it is far, far better than having these properties lie empty for up to several years awaiting demolition, when they could be used to help people on a temporary basis.

“We’re committed to maintaining mixed and diverse communities in Brent, and we’ll be replacing every social-rented home in the regeneration scheme with a newly built and quite frankly better social-rented home, so that there is no decrease in the numbers of socially-rented homes on the estate.”

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