The Campaign to Save the Estate

The news of the Council's plans to sell off the estates leaked out and residents responded swiftly by forming the Walterton and Elgin Action Group (WEAG)

This brief account of the battle of the tenants to control their homes .is based, by permission, on the book 'Against the Odds', by Jonathan Rosenberg, who played a major part in the whole campaign. 'The book contains far more detail about the residents, the day to day progress of the campaign, the demolition of the towers and the rehabilitation of the properties.  The following is one typical, colourful memory:-

Rory McLeod is a one-man-soul-band, poet and story teller. He has travelled widely and describes himself as a musical gypsy. In 1985 he returned to London and needed somewhere to live. He went to Westminster Short Life for help.

"They told me there was this flat in Hermes Point. Another couple had turned it down because it had cockroaches. I took it. I remember walking round the flat singing and playing guitar and baptising it with music, leaning out of the window enjoying all that light that came in. All kinds of friends eventually moved into the blocks. I was part of the community at last.

"I found out about the council tenant's struggle against the Council and wanted to get involved. I found the most militant folks in WEAG were the old folks, but painting the signs on the tower roofs was definitely a job for the younger ones. We took a ladder, paint rollers, brushes and stencils. I was nervous. It took us all night. At 5 am, tired, we drove up onto Westway to check our handiwork. Was it legible? Was it big enough? It was far better than we could ever have hoped for! We creased up laughing - proud of a job well done. For miles, all along the M40 you could read the words:-

NOT FOR SALE!

 


The view from Westway

"I remember Lady Porter and the Tories embarrassed at Council meetings by the popular support against them. I'll never forget the bus trips to the developers with flasks of tea and sandwiches. We realised how strong we could be as a community and that politics starts at home with your neighbours on your street. The trouble with being poor is that it takes up most of your time."

 

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Updated January 23, 2011