Anastasia Aboim reports on the growing campaign to stop evictions from Butterfields estate
Residents fighting against eviction from their homes have won the support of thousands of people from across the borough – and beyond.
Sixteen households in Butterfields, Walthamstow, were ordered to leave by the end of March after their homes were sold by Glasspool Charity Trust, without any warning, to a private company last November.
They formed the Butterfields Won’t Budge campaign group and their petition has so far gained more 3,000 signatures. Jane Browne, 60, is part of the committee behind the campaign. She says she has seen many of her neighbours unable to cope with the imminent threat of being evicted.
“Our next door neighbours have lived here for ten years and a girl on the other side has been here 16 years, all of them have had eviction notices,” Jane told the Echo.
“I think it is unacceptable. We have been writing to the managing agent and to Glasspool but nobody seems to tell us what’s really going on.”
Butterfields is a 1930s housing estate made up of 63 two-storey houses, all of which were sold to newly-formed company Butterfields E17 Ltd. In the petition on campaigning website 38 Degrees, the area is described as “a close-knit community,” which, “is not only facing gentrification but the traumatising prospect of homelessness and misplacement – all in the name of profit”.
In a statement Glasspool, an anti-poverty charity, said it was “very saddened” by the evictions, but stood by its decision to sell the homes. The trust added: “The sale of the properties has meant that in the last 15 years, the trust has been able to increase the amount of money it gives away from around £200,000 a year to nearly £1.5million a year.”
Glasspool is facing possible investigation by the Charity Commission over the way it sold homes in Butterfields, and over whether it obtained full market value for them.
Karen McCaffrey is a Butterfields resident currently protected by her tenancy agreement, but is supporting the campaign launched by her neighbours. “I don’t want to see them go,” she told the Echo. “I’ve grown up here and was born in Walthamstow and it’s these people’s lives they are mucking about with.”
Butterfields tenants have received support from Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy and from tenants at New Era Estate in Hackney who recently led a successful campaign to stop their homes being sold to an American asset management company.
In a statement, Butterfields E17 Ltd said: “We were advised most of the tenants were working professionals occupying the apartments under Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs).
“We would of course welcome buy-to let investors or social landlords that would renew the ASTs.
“We have not taken this decision [to evict] lightly and will do our best to limit any disruption caused to tenants. Where tenants require more time than that allowed legally we will do our best to assist where practicable.”
To sign the Butterfields Won’t Budge petition: