The Ministry of Justice has refused to lease a block of 29 flats behind Pentonville Prison to Islington Council to use as emergency accommodation for homeless families, reports the Islington Gazette.
The flats used to house prison officers but most have been empty for the last 27 years. Islington Council has 14,000 households on its waiting list for social housing.
The council has been in discussions with the Ministry of Justice for some time but these are reported to have broken down when Ministry of Justice officials told them they had been instructed to explore alternative uses for the flats.
The editor of the Islington Gazette suggested that this means the Ministry of Justice aims to sell the land to the highest bidder. This appears much like the situation at Holloway Prison, where the government’s financial interests also conflict with the interests of local residents.
Responding to the news, the Islington Tribune published letters detailing the campaign waged by the local community to release the flats for locals in need of housing. Former Islington Councillor Barry Edwards wrote, ‘Both here and at Holloway Prison the MoJ remains intransigent and uncaring about the needs of the community’.
Local MP Emily Thornberry also joined calls to use the flats as emergency accommodation to house homeless families.