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Council approves decommissioning of shipping container estates in Ealing amidst housing crisis controversy

The decommissioning of Ealing’s shipping container estates continues to progress as the council approves recommendations to decant residents and close the sites.

Portfolio holder for Genuinely Affordable Housing, councillor Bassam Mahfouz told his fellow cabinet members that it was “felt that the quality of the units both [at Marston Court and at Meath Court] were not in line with the standards we have set ourselves and for our residents.”

Cllr Mahfouz said that in some cases people would be moved out before Christmas. The councillor confirmed that people were already being moved out, with families prioritised for new places.

However, Cllr Mahfouz faced questions from the opposition councillors about the plans. Conservative councillor Julian Gallant called the situation involving the experimental housing “embarrassing” and asked what the council planned to do for residents who had laid down roots in Ealing and how the council would provide suitable accommodation on such short notice.

Cllr Mahfouz said that the council was liaising with residents to ensure they get the right accommodation and praised his council’s decision to decommission the site during the “worst housing crisis I’ve ever seen” which he placed at the feet of the Liz Truss government’s mini-budget.

He added: “The [housing] market is completely and utterly broken.”

“We are the one picking up the tab for [Tory decisions in government].”

Councillor Gary Malcolm, leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat opposition, asked if the council would give residents who are struggling to find suitable accommodation flexible deadlines. Cllr Mahfouz responded: “I appreciate that for anyone moving homes it is always a stressful time not less for these families. We want to do that in an empathetic, sympathetic way and that we show flexibility.”

He added that the council will give residents time if they require it to find suitable accommodation “if needs be”. He even floats the possibility of families that are “happy to move twice.”

Most notices to quit give families in Marston and Meath just over a week, in some cases a lot less before their official eviction date. The letter containing the notice tells residents that they will only be given one offer from the council for an alternative property meaning if they reject it for whatever reason they are at risk of losing housing support.

In the letter, the council writes “we want to relocate all households eligible for assistance before the end of 2023. However, in some cases, this may be extended into early 2024.”