GLYN ROBBINS introduces MIPIM – the trade fair for the property industry that helps to ensure ordinary people will never get a foot on the ladder
The forces that caused the housing crisis are coming together in London next month.
MIPIM (Le Marche International des Professionnels de l’Immobilier) is a trade fair for the property industry.
It usually meets in Cannes, which tells you something, but is holding its first British conference at Olympia, from October 15-17.
The event’s website says: “MIPIM UK is the first UK property trade show gathering all professionals looking to close deals in the UK property market: investors, developers, local authorities, occupiers, hotel groups, agents and business service providers.”
MIPIM represents the failed dogma of property speculation that led to the economic crash of 2008.
Despite the ruinous results of “subprime,” these gambling addicts are back in the casino.
There are fortunes to be made by carving up our towns and cities, often using public land and money.
Among the local authorities attending MIPIM at public expense are Ashford, Cardiff, Croydon and Manchester.
They’ll be joined by various “regeneration” quangos, the state-owned RBS bank and the consultants Savills, which recently described council estates as “brownfield sites.”
Public authorities get a special discount to attend (£295 instead of £495) and no wonder.
There are over 30 million acres of “surplus” public land in the UK and developers want to get their hands on it, especially if they can “close deals” where they get the land at a knock-down price, in return for spurious promises to build “affordable” homes.
The contempt that MIPIM has for those in housing need is demonstrated by the title of one of its workshops: “Investing in affordable housing — is it worth it?”
With the blessing of keynote speaker Boris Johnson, a motley crew of property spivs, “experts” and Labour politicians who should know better — including the leader of Lambeth Council — will signal “business as usual” for Britain’s housing policy.
For decades we’ve been told that partnerships between the public, private and “third” sectors will provide the homes we need.
They haven’t. There are five million people on council waiting lists, homelessness is rising and “generation rent” has been pushed into expensive, insecure and often substandard private renting because there’s no alternative.
Even those on reasonable incomes struggle to get a mortgage in some parts of the country.
At MIPIM they’ll all agree that we need to build more homes. But there will be no acceptance of responsibility for why they consistently fail to do so.
The usual excuses about planning will be rolled out, but giving evidence to Labour’s Lyons review, the Royal Town Planning Institute points out that if the top five British housing builders developed the sites they have with planning permission, at least half a million new homes could be built.
The truth is that the developers have a direct financial interest in controlling housing supply and keeping prices high.
The market-led housing model has failed, but continues to threaten our homes and communities.
In the shadow of Olympia, council tenants are fighting the demolition of the 760-home Gibbs Green estate.
The developers responsible, Capital and Counties (Capro), will be at MIPIM to promote their “urban reimagination” of Earls Court.
Such fanciful rhetoric has been used around the country to justify the elimination of council housing and its replacement with private property for the speculative market, alongside a modicum of housing association homes.
People on low and medium incomes are being priced out of our cities by MIPIM.
As someone whose worked in the development industry, I can testify that events like MIPIM are as vile as they sound. They’re dominated by white men, cronyism, alcohol, cynicism and greed. They offer no answers to our housing crisis, only its continuation.
Speculative property investment, subsidised by the government, makes the next market meltdown inevitable.
Soaring prices are fuelling gentrification, transience and displacement.
Regional disparities are widening the economic gap between London and south-east England and the rest of the country.
Most worryingly, the housing shortage feeds the racism and intolerance that Ukip and the far-right feed on.
A broad coalition of housing campaigns, tenant organisations and trade unions is uniting under the slogan “No to MIPIM, Yes to housing justice.”
A series of events and demonstrations will challenge the property profiteers and argue that there is an alternative. We demand:
No more sell-offs of public land
A national programme of council house-building
Rent control and more rights for private renters
The decriminalisation of squatting in unused empty homes.
We need to take control of housing policy away from the MIPIM forces before they do even more damage.
With millions of acres of public land, borrowing rates at historic lows and two million unemployed workers, we can build the homes we need in the places we need them.
Profit-driven development produces homes that are environmentally, economically and socially wasteful.
We need a housing policy based on our shared long-term future, not the short-term profits of MIPIM.
There will be a public meeting, “No to MIPIM,” organised by the Radical Housing Network, on Tuesday September 16 at 7pm at Unite, 128 Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8TN and a protest against MIPIM on Wednesday October 15 from 9.30am at London Olympia. For more information contact www.radicalhousingnetwork.org.
The No to MIPIM campaign is being supported by Unite Housing Workers, Piccadilly and District West RMT and is on the agenda for meetings of other union branches and trade councils.
To add your support and for a copy of a model motion, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org