Anna Minton on UK railway arch Mafia -> E Europe homeless evicted from Mayfair

Tony Gosling tony at
Thu Sep 26 22:38:32 BST 2019

Ruthless private equity firms gobble up property 
and wreak havoc on tenants' lives
<>Anna Minton

Multibillion-pound firms like Blackstone have 
become leading property players. People who need homes are paying the price

Fri 20 Sep 2019 08.12 BST

Parents at the Fount nursery in London’s East End 
were taken aback recently when fees for their 
children’s care went up by more than £200 a month.

The reason for the price hike? The nursery is 
based in a former railway arch and there had been 
a massive 49.2% increase in rent by the new 
landlord, US private equity firm Blackstone, 
following a £1.5bn sell-off by Network Rail of network arches around the UK.


  Blackstone and Telereal Trillium’s 'dodgy 
hand-shaker' acquisition of arches from Network 
Rail has been controversial. Photograph: Jack Taylor

On 13 September, the Commons public accounts 
committee issued a 
report on the controversial sale of thousands of 
railway arches to a joint venture between 
Blackstone and Telereal Trillium. The MPs accused 
of selling off a profitable asset for short-term 
gain, with a loss of income of at least £80m and 
potentially up to £160m a year. They also said 
the sale would mean fewer rights for future 
tenants, as well as denying existing tenants the option to extend their leases.

Rachel Munro-Peebles, who owns the nursery, faced 
a difficult decision: close the nursery or 
increase fees. She describes Blackstone as 
“ruthless”, pursuing a hardcore increase in rent 
that threatens the survival of her business. 
Hence the unpleasant news for parents.

But few of them would realise what they have in 
common with similar rent rises faced by a baker 
in Berlin, a bar owner in Toronto, and tenants in 
housing in Stockholm or Madrid.

The common factor is £6.7bn private equity 
behemoth Blackstone, now reported to be the 
landlord in the world. It manages assets worth 
£123bn, including property in parts of Berlin, 
Toronto, Madrid, Dublin and Stockholm, where it 
is the biggest 
owner of low-income housing

Local battles against rising rents, such as the 
protests against plans to redevelop railway 
arches in Brixton, where only nine of the 
original 39 businesses remain, are often reported 
as struggles against gentrification. But this is 
not gentrification. This is not about 
working-class areas being taken over by incoming 
hipsters and middle-class residents and businesses.

This is another phenomenon entirely. This is 
about how global private equity firms have become 
leading players in the property market since the 
2008 crash. This was predicted by the late 
Smith in the 1970s, who argued that when the gap 
becomes big enough between the rent a property 
earns and what it could earn if redeveloped for 
new residents, private capital would flow in, 
attracted by the potential to make large profits.

The result is that since the financial crisis, 
many parts of London and other cities have become 
unrecognisable. UN special rapporteur on housing 
and human rights Leilani Farha says the 
commodification of real estate by private equity 
investors in recent years had made housing for 
many people increasingly expensive and 
precarious. “Landlords have become faceless 
corporations wreaking havoc with tenants’ right 
to security,” said Farha earlier this year, in a 
critique of the role of companies like Blackstone 
in contributing to the global housing crisis.

She has 
Blackstone and to government officials in the 
Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Sweden 
and the US, accusing the company of undertaking 
“aggressive evictions” to protect its rental 
income streams, shrinking the pool of affordable 
housing in some areas and effectively 
low- and middle-income tenants from their homes. 
Her work on this has also been highlighted in a 
documentary by Swedish film-maker Fredrik Gertten.

On its website, Blackstone, which 
the claims and said the UN report contained 
“numerous false claims, significant factual 
errors and inaccurate conclusions”, tells 
investors it seeks to “acquire high quality 
investments at discounts to replacement cost” – 
corporate speak for buying up assets cheap. It 
particularly favours what economists call 
“distressed markets”, as these have the greatest 
potential for capital growth. This includes 
repossessed homes in 
US and Spain as well as increased activity in the 
UK – the company recently made a 
move into the UK’s low-income housing market 
through for-profit housing provider Sage.

Following the financial crash Stephen Schwarzman, 
the company’s billionaire chief executive, 
Blackstone’s strategy in Europe as “basically 
waiting to see how beaten up people’s psyches 
get, and where they’re willing to sell assets 
You want to wait until there’s really blood in 
the streets.” Schwarzman recently gave Oxford 
University £150m – its largest 
donation since the Renaissance – to fund 
humanities centre that will be named after him. 
It’s a move to burnish his image that is unlikely 
to allay concerns about his company’s activities.

Meanwhile, despite reassurances from the company 
that now owns so many former railway arches, 
local communities remain fearful, including 
Munro-Peebles, who says Blackstone isn’t 
listening to any of its tenants. “How are we supposed to survive?”

Homeless camp in London's Mayfair is cleared out 
by police after crime-wave by rough sleepers 
targeted wealthy residents and businesses 

    * Rough sleepers were cleared from near Marble Arch, Mayfair, London
    * TFL said court order issued as last resort 
after other accommodation offered
    * The campers were thought to be largely made 
up of Romanians and Bulgarians
    * However rough sleepers have resisted 
deportation thanks to a High Court ruling

PUBLISHED: 02:21, 21 September 2019 | UPDATED: 08:42, 21 September 2019

Rough sleepers on cardboard mattresses and tents, 
accused of begging and pick pocketing, have been 
cleared by police from the affluent district of Mayfair.

Men, women and children in makeshift camps in the 
shadow of Marble Arch, Mayfair, were ordered to 
move by officers from private Transport for 
<>London land last week.

However the campers, thought to be Romanians and 
Bulgarians, moved their cardboard homes across to nearby Park Lane.

Shopping trolleys were piled with pots and pans, 
a broomstick, an accordion and a 32-inch plasma 
television, which a Romanian named Dan planned to 
sell 'for a few hundred pounds', according to 
Rough sleepers camping on the central reservation of Park Lane,


Rough sleepers camping on the central reservation 
of Park Lane, central London, using cardboard 
boxes and blankets in 2013 (file image)

Dan said he did not want to return to Romania and 
was living with no money, no job and no food.

Transport for London said the court order was a 
last resort after attempts to offer alternative 
accommodation proved unsuccessful.

During the early morning of Thursday, raid police 
officers overlooked the site to  ensure there 
were no cases of modern slavery, which included 
people held against their will.

However those living in the 'tent city' have 
resisted deportation thanks to a High Court ruling made in 2017.

The Home Office policy states that the 
deportation of rough sleepers who are EU citizens 
is unlawful and broke freedom of movement rules.

Shocking figures published by the Metropolitan 
Police state that 872 crimes of a violent or 
sexual nature were reported in the 12 months to 
July - a rate of more than two a day.

Thefts including shoplifiting were at a rate 
equivalent of more than 80 cases a week and a 
robbery was committed in the area every day.

This is in contrast to Hackney Central, east 
London, an area once associated with crime, which 
reported 493 violent and sexual offences.

However Westminster council say comparison of the 
two is unfair given the central location of Mayfair.

Westminster Conservative councillor Ian Adams has 
warned against blaming the Romanian and Bulgarian 
rough sleepers for the rise in crime.

Mr Adams said: 'The council very much recognises 
and shares the concerns of residents and 
businesses ... around current levels of crime 
whether that is theft, robbery or other crimes.

'Mayfair is increasingly becoming a magnet for 
the nighttime economy. It attracts a lot of 
wealthy people who are being targeted because of 
the expensive jewellery they are wearing.'
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: application/x-ygp-stripped
Size: 200 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: application/x-ygp-stripped
Size: 200 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: application/x-ygp-stripped
Size: 200 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <>
-------------- next part --------------
NB please do reply with remove as the subject or first line if you do 
not wish to recieve further emails - thanks

'From South America, where payment must be made with subtlety, the 
Bormann organization has made a substantial contribution. It has 
drawn many of the brightest Jewish businessmen into a participatory 
role in the development of many of its corporations, and many of 
these Jews share their prosperity most generously with Israel. If 
their proposals are sound, they are even provided with a specially 
dispensed venture capital fund. I spoke with one Jewish businessmen 
in Hartford, Connecticut. He had arrived there quite unknown several 
years before our conversation, but with Bormann money as his 
leverage. Today he is more than a millionaire, a quiet leader in the 
community with a certain share of his profits earmarked as always for 
his venture capital benefactors. This has taken place in many other 
instances across America and demonstrates how Bormann's people 
operate in the contemporary commercial world, in contrast to the 
fanciful nonsense with which Nazis are described in so much "literature."

So much emphasis is placed on select Jewish participation in Bormann 
companies that when Adolf Eichmann was seized and taken to Tel Aviv 
to stand trial, it produced a shock wave in the Jewish and German 
communities of Buenos Aires. Jewish leaders informed the Israeli 
authorities in no uncertain terms that this must never happen again 
because a repetition would permanently rupture relations with the 
Germans of Latin America, as well as with the Bormann organization, 
and cut off the flow of Jewish money to Israel. It never happened 
again, and the pursuit of Bormann quieted down at the request of 
these Jewish leaders. He is residing in an Argentinian safe haven, 
protected by the most efficient German infrastructure in history as 
well as by all those whose prosperity depends on his well-being.'

You can donate to support Tony's work here

TG mobile +44 7786 952037  
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Diggers350 mailing list