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Sisters Uncut interrupt Hackney Council AGM over families left stuck in doomed Homerton block

PUBLISHED: 19:30 22 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:18 23 May 2019

Sisters Uncut outside Hackney Town Hall with Marian Court resident Margaret Mongan and family who still have not been found suitable housing away from the condemned estate. They were asked to leave the council AGM and had their banner confiscated by the Town Hall. Picture: Polly Hancock

Sisters Uncut outside Hackney Town Hall with Marian Court resident Margaret Mongan and family who still have not been found suitable housing away from the condemned estate. They were asked to leave the council AGM and had their banner confiscated by the Town Hall. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Feminist radical action group Sisters Uncut stormed the Hackney Council AGM tonight in support of two families left in a deserted Homerton block set to be demolished.

Shahbana Bibi has been waiting to move out of temporary accomodation in Marian Court for five years. Picture: Polly HancockShahbana Bibi has been waiting to move out of temporary accomodation in Marian Court for five years. Picture: Polly Hancock

They interrupted the meeting with shouting from the public gallery, and dropped a banner reading: "Heroes Need Homes: House The Champions of Marion Court". They were then kicked out by security.

As revealed by the Gazette last month, mother-of-four Shahbana Bibi and Margaret Mongan, who lives with her severely disabled daughter, her son and her mother, are stuck in Marian Court . It was supposed to be cleared by the end of April, but they have yet to be housed.

The doomed block has been used as temporary accommodation for households on the 13,000-strong waiting list over the last few years but is set to be demolished as part of the council's major estate regeneration programme.

Shahbana says she has been offered a derelict former squat in Richmond Road, and Margaret says she is being forced into a hostel, which could impact the health of Annmarie, nine.

Marian Court resident Margaret Mongan, with her severely disabled daughter Annmarie Mongan, nine. Picture: Polly HancockMarian Court resident Margaret Mongan, with her severely disabled daughter Annmarie Mongan, nine. Picture: Polly Hancock

Sisters Uncut occupied one of the empty flats in the summer of 2016 and turned it into a community centre to protest the number of empty council homes in the borough.

Now they have urged mayor Phil Glanville to find them permanent homes and accused him of "broken promises".

Jana Pinto, of East End Sisters said: "We demand Hackney Council find Margaret and Shabhana suitable permanent housing.

"It has been three years since Phil Glanville promised residents that exactly this situation would not happen. We need to hold him to account for the promises he has broken."

Most of the flats in Marian Court are now boarded up and empty. Picture: Polly HancockMost of the flats in Marian Court are now boarded up and empty. Picture: Polly Hancock

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When the council revealed Marian Court was being demolished, longer-term families were told they would be moved to permanent homes, while some were told they would be moved into temporary places elsewhere.

But the severe lack of available homes across the capital left the council struggling to find homes suitable for Shahbana and Margaret's families.

Shahbana, who has lived there for more than five years, was told weeks ago that the Richmond Road home would be ready in a month after maintenance was carried out - but when she went to see the place for herself found it was previously squatted and had been vandalised.

She said: "After the deadline passed I was feeling really stressed so decided to check on the property. I found out the housing association [Newlon] had left the property empty and it had been broken into and vandalised.

"I have waited five years and don't want to move into a property I feel would put me and my children at risk."

After writing to Hackney mayor Phil Glanville with her concerns, he replied: "I fully appreciate that this is a very anxious time for you and your family and I am sorry to hear about your ongoing concerns.

"I asked my office to again contact the housing needs service for an urgent update on your case and on the works being undertaken by Newlon.

"I am told they are putting daily pressure on them to get these works delivered and keep you updated as far as they can on this."

Margaret has been offered a place in nearby Banister House and a hostel. She says neither are suitable due to the health needs of her daughter Annmarie, nine, and doctors have written to the council saying shared accommodation would "worsen her health".

Bulldozing 136 flats at Marian Court and Bridge House next door is part of the council's plan to build 275 new homes there. Eighty will be for social rent, compared with 66 at the moment.

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