Skip to content

Lindsey Garratt, Chairman Of New Era Estate Tenants Association

January 20, 2015
by the gentle author

Lindsey and her daughter Dolly

Contributing Photographer Sarah Ainslie & I went up to Hoxton to visit Lindsey Garratt who is still reeling from her revelatory triumph before Christmas when she and the other tenants, with moral support from Russell Brand, forced Westbrook Partners to relinquish control of the New Era Estate where ninety-two families were under threat of eviction. This success has been a transformative experience for Lindsey, awakening her to a recognition of the wider crisis beyond the immediate problem she and her neighbours confronted. Theirs is an inspirational example that reaffirms the power of collective action in the struggle for justice against the malign forces of corporate property development.

“I’m a Healthcare Co-ordinator and I love it, but I also like campaigning now too. I’d never done anything like that before. I was never interested in Politics, it didn’t affect me before because I’ve always lived in my working class bubble here in Hoxton. I lived on the New Era Estate since I was fifteen. This is my home. My great nan lived in Hoxton and my grandfather, and all my dad’s family have been here for ever. I would never want to live anywhere else. My parents live opposite, my sister and aunty live on the Estate. I know everyone here. It wasn’t just about our homes, it was about what we have here, our community. I’ve got such lovely memories of my time on the Estate, I couldn’t bear to leave.

In July 2012, we were told the flats had gone up for sale and I arranged a meeting to set up a Tenants Association, although we were told that there was nothing to worry about. Then in July 2014, we were told the Estate was sold and our rents would go up. I just felt compelled to do something, so I called up the Daily Mail and they put the story on the front page because the owner, Richard Benyon, was one of the Tory elite. We held regular meetings to keep people informed and hold everyone together, but we didn’t think we had much chance. We set up a pitch in Hoxton Market and it all died down, until one day Russell Brand walked past and asked us what was going on.

Three hundred of us dressed up in a Dickens theme and we marched to Benyon’s office to serve an eviction notice upon them – that was my idea. It worked, because they pulled out and sold their stake in the Estate. After that we had Westbrook Partners to contend with. So we marched with six to eight hundred people from their offices in Berkeley Sq to Downing St to deliver our petition of nearly three hundred thousand signatures. We weren’t going to give up but they did. We were surprised. We thought, ‘Bloody Hell, that was easy! What next?’

It’s changed me personally, it’s opened up my eyes to how politics works and how difficult it is for the working class – how much pressure is put on you. I was ‘restructured’ at work and I lost three hundred pounds a month and my rent went up two hundred pounds a month, and I was being told, ‘You just can’t live in London anymore.‘ I felt I was being forced into poverty, but I’m a single parent and I’ve never claimed benefits. I’ve got work and I’m just asking to pay an affordable rent.

All around us is going, for us to remain when all around us is going is scary. It’s easy for landlords to divide and rule when it’s a more diverse community, but because the families in the New Era Estate have been here together since the nineteen-thirties it’s harder to get rid of us. We said, ‘Enough is enough.’ We proved people can make a difference because it happened here. At Christmas, we all celebrated and cried a lot. It was a real success story, everyone got to stay and all the shops too.

There are other communities that are being cast aside. I feel passionate about it and I will continue to campaign for it.”

Portrait copyright © Sarah Ainslie

You may also like to read about

Sam Middleton & Jasmine Stone, Campaigning Stratford Mothers

14 Responses leave one →
  1. January 20, 2015

    a very inspiring read for martin luther king day. proves once again that TOGETHER we all have the means to defend ourselves and choose our own destinies. so very important.

  2. January 20, 2015

    Thank you Lindsey Garratt for standing up and being counted.
    Very great role model.

  3. January 20, 2015

    Well done for highlighting this great struggle .

  4. Julie permalink
    January 20, 2015


  5. January 20, 2015

    Glad Lindsey and her friends, family and neighbours can stay together. Well done on organising the protest and winning such a victory. Valerie

  6. Charlotte permalink
    January 20, 2015

    Amazing woman!!! Well done, such an excellent story to hear

  7. James Wyburd permalink
    January 20, 2015

    A very courageous story. The historical rights of generational tenure against the market place. It’s actually quite hard to work out who’s right. What if the landlord is a pension fund and needs the rent to pay pensions? We can’t banish the market as without it there are no choices and its absence is the route to destitution. I tell my children that if they want to live in London they have to a) work really hard at school, b) get highly qualified, and c) aim high. None of this stops them having great fun. Otherwise London and indeed life leave you behind, as it always has.

  8. Joan Halliday permalink
    January 20, 2015

    Power of the people!!! Well done!

  9. Lesley permalink
    January 20, 2015

    Well done Lindsay and New Era 4All We a need working class fighters like you to represent. Russell said if their were fighters like you he would vote How about it ….

  10. Barbara permalink
    January 20, 2015

    A great victory and another example of a strong , determined woman who wins my respect every day of the week . Living in London should not just be for the young , the highly qualified or the wealthy. Lyndsey’s fight was for family , community and honest , hard working people . Bravo Lyndsey , you have shown us all what can be achieved ! x

  11. Kathleen Aghajanian permalink
    January 20, 2015

    Never underestimate the courage of
    a woman.
    Hip Hip Hooray
    Bloody good job

  12. Tim permalink
    January 20, 2015

    Congratulations to you and all the association plus the supporters. I hope the future stays as secure as it appears to be for all of you.

  13. milo Bell permalink
    January 21, 2015

    Very inspiring story indeed.
    Just goes to show what can happen when a person refuses to lie down and take it.
    Let’s hope this galvanises more people into action. Banish listlessness!!

  14. January 24, 2015

    Solidarity forever!

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments may be edited. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS