Friday, November 01, 2013

Door knocking and talking in West Ham

Last Saturday I went door knocking in my ward, West Ham, with 2014 candidate John Whitworth and Plaistow South Candidate, Gordon Mackinnon-Miller.

The weather looked uncertain but we decided to take the risk of rain and "door knock" Corporation Street, E15.

This is the longest residential street in the ward. It is an interesting mixture of  mostly terrace housing -  freehold, leasehold, private rented but also Council and Housing Association.

It is a little unclear but this reference in Newham Story about housing history in Newham suggests that the the maisonettes in the street are historic "double houses".  

"The earliest council dwellings (1899-1905) were much better adapted to the needs of working-class tenants than those of the private builders. Most of them were two-storey 'double houses' with a flat on each floor. The flats varied in size from two to four rooms, with a wash-house to each flat. The original design was by Lewis Angell (borough surveyor 1867-99) who believed that such dwellings were 'healthier and more humanising ... especially for children', than large 'barrack-like' blocks of flats. The largest estate, at Wise Road, Stratford (94 flats and 11 single houses) survives, along with others in Bethell Avenue, Plaistow, and in Eve and Corporation Streets, West Ham"

Most homes in Corporation Street are owner occupied or private rented. Zoopla estimates average house price of £249,396 in the area and average rent in E15 is £1,623 per month. According to Tesco Finance such a repayment mortgage would cost £1390 per month.

How on earth anyone can afford rent or mortgage of £400 per week is just beyond me?

During the doorstep I spoke to a resident who was overcrowded in his home and had 9 children. He asked what I could to do to help him get  a bigger place. I told him that I cannot interfere in the allocation process but if he has been not dealt with properly under Council procedures then I would support him.  He seemed content with this.

When I asked one household if they supported Labour, I was told of course we do, we are a Labour family.

I spoke to a young man who lived with his mum, who said he had never voted and knew nothing about politics. He asked me "can you really change things" I said yes we can and handed out a leaflet on Labour plans to freeze energy prices as an example.

One resident told me that she had went to school with Stratford Councillor, Terry Paul. I immediately asked her if she had any embarrassing stories she could tell me about Terry to tease him. Then we thought about it and agreed that there is nothing we can say that would ever embarrass Terry.

I had a good conversation with a wavering Labour/Green who was undecided how she would vote but said "its nice to get a visit anyway". 

At the very last house on our list, John Whitworth had a very angry woman complaining about East Europeans, getting drunk in the streets, taking jobs and houses. She said she had a black partner and was not at all racist. John tried to suggest that perhaps East Europeans were doing jobs that many Brits did not want to do and that the reason why there is a housing problem in London is due to us not building enough. But she was not having any of it.

While I have a zero tolerance of anyone who is drunk and abusive or leave litter, I do clearly remember canvassing in the past before we had migration from East Europe and hearing pretty much the same comments and complaints over housing and jobs about Asians and West Indians.
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