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Claims £1m house sale is ‘social cleansing’

Property where man’s body was found in bin is set to be put on the market

03 January, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

A protest last year in which housing campaigners called for the sale of the Tollington Road property to be halted

A HOUSING association is set to put a £1million property back on the market, sparking outrage from activists who have accused them of “socially cleansing” Islington.

Clarion Housing bosses backtracked on plans to sell a house in Tollington Road earlier this year after the Tribune contacted them when the dead body of Erik Sanfilippo, 23, was found in a bin outside.

However, the Tribune can reveal that Clarion is set to bring the three-storey property, which is split into three flats, back onto the market this month.

Islington’s housing chief Cllr Diarmaid Ward has criticised the decision not to commit to reinvesting the money here, warning that the borough is being used as a “cash-cow” for housing associations to build homes in cheaper areas outside of London.

Police at the Tollington Road house after Erik Sanfilippo’s body was found

Andy Bain, a spokesman for Islington Homes for All (IHFA), said: “IHFA objects strongly to housing associations, and in this case Clarion, ­auctioning or otherwise selling their properties in Islington. The house now under threat contains three much-needed flats and was bought around 40 years ago by Clarion’s predecessor with a huge grant from public funds, ie, the taxpayer.”

He added: “Clarion will not replace sold properties but will build in cheaper outer London boroughs, effectively socially cleansing Islington of those that can’t afford to pay above council rents.”

Cllr Ward said: “I fully accept that in older street properties problems can occur, but there are ways around these issues.

“It is very rare that the council has to sell a home and in that situation any money from that sale goes straight back into council home building. With a national organisation that simply isn’t the case. If a date to sell the Tollington Road house is set, then I am very disappointed.

“I spoke with the chief executive and said that we cannot allow Islington to be a cash cow for housing associations to build outside of London.”

Clarion would not comment on whether they would ring-fence any money made from selling the house.

Gerardo Rossi was sentenced for perverting the course of justice after he dumped the body of Italian national Mr Sanfilippo in the Tolling­ton Road wheelie bin.

His mother told the Tribune that her son was a “very special person” who was “hard-working, kind and happy”.

An inquest found that he had died of an accidental overdose in May last year.

A Clarion spokesperson said: “Having removed 53 Tollington Road from auction in May while a police investigation into a nearby incident concluded, we will now be placing the property back up for sale.

“We are always keen to discuss property transfers with other associations and councils, but when a property doesn’t meet modern living standards and would need substantial ongoing investment, it’s often just as difficult for any other social landlord to be able to take on that property.

“This is the first Clarion home to be sold in the borough and we are investing more than £32million in improving our other properties in Islington through our 2017-2023 investment programme, as well as continuing to support local people through our charitable foundation, Clarion Futures.”

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