Once a pioneering example of social housing, Park Hill flats were built for the people of Sheffield. In 2020 when corporate redevelopers Urban Splash hiked heating charges for all residents, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it risked pricing ordinary people out of their homes.
ACORN united the diversity of the new estate—social tenants, private renters and homeowners alike—getting hundreds of residents to sign a petition and mobilising them onto their balconies to bash pots and pans and make noise against rip-off bills. A show of unity in a time of isolation.
After a months-long fight, members secured an online meeting with Urban Splash boss Tom Bloxham. To take on the Sunday Times Rich List millionaire, they brought people power into the room, having collected dozens and dozens of signed pledge cards and short video testimonies of residents.
After members presented their demand and played video after video of their neighbours, Bloxham backed down and agreed to a complete reverse of the price hike pending a comprehensive review of the cost of living in the estate. When members then insisted on a refund for the higher charges, Urban Splash called back within 20 minutes of the meeting to agree to that too, as well as a raft of other commitments in response to residents’ concerns.
ACORN’s victory in Park Hill shows what ordinary people can achieve if we stand together. When we organise in numbers, we can cut through the isolation of the pandemic, beat the rich and powerful, and put money back in the pockets of working class people.
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