‘Ghost’ estate of 2,000 homes set to be demolished – 30 families remain there
The 30 residents who still live inside a condemned housing estate in London that is set to be demolished have claimed that it is plagued with squatters.
Just a few of the 2,000 homes in the Aylesbury Estate in Wandsworth, south London, are lived in, as the local council has welded large metal slabs across nearly every flat to prevent anti-social behaviour and squatters.
While some people still living there are desperate to be rehoused for fear of crime, others say the community still lives on.
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Some residents are fighting to save the crumbling estate, which was built between 1963 and 1977 and is often used by campaigners as a symbol of urban decay.
Tony Blair made his first speech as prime minister at the estate, claiming that his government would help the poorest people in Britain.
Ms Isaku, 29-years-old and from Albania, said she doesn’t feel safe living on the estate.
The five-year Aylesbury tenant said: “Life here is not great to be honest. I think it’s not very safe, people screaming, shouting.
"It’s not great, they said they were going to move us from here but they haven’t, it’s been since 2019 that they said they’d do that but we’re still waiting.
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“The other day I could see 10 or 20 police cars. The police come here regularly, but I’ve never had any issues myself.
“I can never leave the house alone, I get very scared. Even if I just kicked the door it would open.”
A mum-of-one said she feels scared because one of the only noises she hears in the otherwise-silent blocks is shouting, and there has been an increasing police presence over the past week.
Software engineer Brunla Isaku, whose daughter is six, said that her door could be easily broken in, which she learned when her neighbour was locked out and a man kicked it open with a single blow.
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Aysen Dennis, 64, says she’s spent the last 24 years trying to save what’s left of the estate
The life-long activist has turned her flat into an exhibition to save Aylesbury Estate and showcase the heart of the block, which she says still exists.
Her home has always been the “HQ” of the group now called ‘Fight for Aylesbury’, which she describes as “my baby” that she has created over 24 years.
“Not a single person can buy anything around here,” she said.
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"This has affected the elderly people especially, it brings early death, and mental illness increases, especially in women, because they are the ones who make the networks in the community.
“They might not be able to pinpoint why they are so depressed because being minority ethnic people, they don’t have this luxury of a therapist.
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“People have an attitude towards you if you live in a council flat, I don’t know what they think we are, but we are normal human beings.
“I know some homeless people to try to break in, to sleep inside. Where they are breaking into empty places to live in.
"Why not? Crime is making them homeless, what’s making them homeless? Because they are homeless doesn’t make them criminals."
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