'If I have to move to Stoke, how am I going to see my son?'

Kevin Rawlinson meets Newham locals who say empty homes are being wasted

Martyn Wood is on his way to a friend's flat above a launderette, and he is not happy. "I don't understand it, I could count 30 properties on a five-minute walk round here that are boarded up. It's disgusting."

He, like many others in Newham – one of London's most deprived boroughs – is worried that he may be forced to move away to get a roof over his head.

And that could mean that the 28-year-old father-of-one, who is currently homeless, will end up living miles away from his 18-month-old son. It emerged yesterday that Newham Council has been talking to authorities as far away as Stoke-on-Trent about taking some of the people waiting for a new home.

"I would be happy to take anything, as long as it is not hundreds of miles away," he said, "but if I had to go to somewhere as far away as Stoke, how would I be able to see my boy?"

Although he plans to visit the council to make sure he is on the local waiting list, his hopes are limited: "I spoke to someone recently who was having to go to Leeds because they have council houses there."

Mr Wood is a recovering drug addict, who came to London three years ago after getting clean. After splitting up with his partner this Easter, he has found himself temporarily homeless.

"It is wrong that you should have to be moved out of your own area when there are so many properties," he says, pointing down the road. "There are blocks of flats three storeys high down there, a lot of them have two of those storeys boarded up and yet there is no way people can live near their families."

Pointing in the opposite direction, he adds: "And over there they have built a huge new shopping centre and they're going to host the Olympic Games in a few months."

The housing shortage in Newham is doing little to help community relations. Mr Wood, like some other locals, says he feels that immigrants are prioritised when it comes to housing.

Two market-stall workers, who don't want to be named, say most of the people they used to know in the area who could move away have already done so. Others may not even get a choice about leaving.

"I knew one girl with four kids who couldn't get a place. I was told myself two years ago I could go on the list but that it would be 12 years before I was likely to get a place round here," says one.

His colleague adds: "Work will be the main issue when you start telling people to move out of the area if they want a house. You may be giving them a choice: lose your chance of a home or lose your job."

While Newham has a few of the plush houses more characteristic of other, wealthier parts of the capital – and is supposed to be one of the main beneficiaries of post-Olympics regeneration– it is home to some of the capital's most deprived communities. But it is also home to people, rich or poor, who have set down roots – people who have jobs and families in the area.

One recent addition, Sabbir Zaman, a 22-year-old student, said he would be happy to make the area his home once he finishes his studies. "It is friendly, quiet and safe," he said, adding: "I would be unhappy if I was one of the people who had to just move out."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?