Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Aylesbury Estate - utopia when?

I'm a local councillor for Faraday ward, in the London Borough of Southwark. The majority of my constituents live on one estate: the Aylesbury. The estate means many things to many people. To the outside world it’s symbol of decay, and the failure of every government policy you can care to think of – paternalism, social engineering, Thatcherism, New Labour, immigration, housing allocation policy, free markets, right to buy, social housing, brutalism, privatisation…. Everything. In my ward, in my community, the picture is more complex. It’s an estate that for many of the original residents brought hope and change, and a community that has endured – as well as the misery of a heating system that has, quite literally, never worked. There have been problems with drugs, violent crime and gangs, but there is still a profound solidarity – a diverse, tolerant and multicultural place.