Ealing Council has committed to closing the infamous Marston Court estate in 2023/24 as part of its new four year plan for the borough. Labelled as a ‘failure’ in housing policy, the shipping container estate has long been criticised by residents and charities alike as ‘inhumane’, with the council itself admitting that the temporary accommodation was ‘not fit for purpose.’
At a full council meeting, where the plan was discussed, opposition leader councillor Gary Malcolm spoke extensively about the estate as well as its sister site Meath Court. While the plan names Martson Court in Hanwell explicitly, the council has not made the same commitment to decommission Meath Court in Acton.
Cllr Malcolm labelled them “the two examples where the council has failed on housing”. The plan to decommission the estate comes with a pledge “to end the need for families who face eviction to stay in bed and breakfast temporary accommodation and invest £20million in 100 new safe and secure places for people to stay,” which is planned for over four years.
While good news for residents at Marston Court who will be “re-provided temporary accommodation elsewhere,” those still struggling in shipping containers in Meath Court potentially still have a long wait ahead of them.
Cllr Malcolm, of the Liberal Democrats, lambasted the Labour majority quoting the Children’s Commissioner that called the housing “unsuitable and unsafe. Cramped, with nowhere [for children] to play or do homework. Hot in the summer, too cold in the winter”.
He added that Shelter, a housing and homelessness charity, had also condemned the shipping container homes. A Shelter report reads: “Housing families in unsuitable converted shipping containers for months at a time is a sad reflection of the housing crisis.”
The damning conditions have been pointed out by residents of both Meath and Marston Court in the past with people who live in the estates labelling them a ‘crime’ and ‘hell’. Cllr Malcolm closed his speech by saying: “Although the flats were designed to be emergency accommodation people are suffering from violence, anti-social behaviour, fear of crime and housing that isn’t up to scratch a number of years after it was introduced.”
Another big housing promise from the council is to invest £400m in the council’s housing over the next 4 years to ensure “everyone can live in a safe, secure, and healthy home.” The council’s plan also lays out aims to provide “4,000 new genuinely affordable homes across the borough and ensure Ealing residents and key workers have priority to access new affordable homes in the borough.”