THE RIGHT-WING Labour-controlled London Borough of Lambeth has stooped to a new low to clear an 81-year-old pensioner tenant from a home they was to redevelop – they had him sectioned as mentally ill.
Artist Tony Healy had been fighting against the eviction from his housing co-op, where he has lived for more than 30 years. Until, that is, Lambeth council made an unexpected move: sectioning him under the Mental Health Act. Lambeth council began eviction proceedings against Healy in 2012.
His “short-life” property is owned by the council, which lets them to tenants for fixed-term periods. But in 2015 all four Vauxhall parliamentary candidates fought against the eviction of vulnerable tenants from these properties.
They wrote to Lambeth council Chief Executive Sean Harriss about Healy’s case, noting: “As I am sure you know, moving elderly residents, especially in traumatic circumstances, can have a very detrimental effect on their life expectancy.
“We strongly believe that a way should be found to allow these residents to remain in their homes where exceptional circumstances apply. This is not a matter of political policy but of finding a compassionate way to solve this issue.”
Nevertheless Healy received another eviction notice dated 5th February 2016. The council then visited him on 2nd March to persuade him to move voluntarily. According to Lambeth United Housing Co-op, the council were accompanied by medical health professionals.
On 3rd March, Healy received a note saying he would be sectioned. Around 1am on the morning of 4th March he was taken to hospital, reportedly as a result of a second section order. He has also sustained a broken arm and hip for which he is being treated.
Neighbours who have visited Healy say “these injuries appeared to have happened accidentally”.
Campaigners against Healy's eviction claim that Lambeth Council officers and bailiffs then tried to seize his house on 4th March, after he was removed.
This effort was thwarted by his supporters. Lambeth council insists it is not responsible for the section orders: decisions to section anyone in accordance with the Mental Health Act 2007 are determined by mental health professionals and social workers, not the local council.
But Green Party candidate for Lambeth and Southwark, Rashid Nix, disagrees: “No one knew about the order, not even his doctor, and it appears as if Lambeth were behind it. Meanwhile, Lambeth United Housing Co-op points to another uncomfortable truth: We are extremely unhappy that the council chose to go through with the eviction that brought about the problem in the first place, having to resort to sectioning.”
Those who know Healy claim he had no mental health issues prior to the eviction threat. They note that “there is an inextricable link between Tony’s health and the love he has for his house”.
Healy has adorned his property with his artwork and, as he has no family, they say: “Tony’s beloved house is all he has left. It seems that Lambeth council has done one of two things. It has either convinced health professionals to raise unnecessary section orders against Healy to ensure the eviction. Or, it has taken actions that have directly led to his current state of mental health, thus enabling the council to justify the eviction. Either way, it is to blame.”