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Sian Berry vows to protect London’s vital launderettes


The Green Party mayoral candidate Sian Berry has pledged to protect London’s remaining launderettes from proposed changes that could see them disappear altogether.

Last autumn, as part of its drive to free up more buildings for residential use, the Government announced its intention to remove planning protections that protect local launderettes.

But the Green candidate today promised to oppose the change in any forthcoming consultation and, if elected Mayor, to introduce exemptions for London’s launderettes which she says provide a vital service for everyone.

“London’s remaining launderettes are mostly going concerns and provide a vital safety net for many people. They need protection and everyone in London should have one within walking distance,” she said today.

“There are two busy launderettes on the street I live on, providing a valuable service to our whole area for washing large items, and for the inevitable occasions when home washing machines break down. I relied on these launderettes completely for more than five years when I couldn’t fit a washing machine in my old flat, and there are still many people in my position.

“The government’s plans take no notice of the important social role these facilities play in promoting healthy communities and a lifeline for everyone, whether they own a washing machine or not. I will be arguing hard against these changes and standing up for London’s launderettes by putting forward a well-justified exemption from these new rules if I am elected.”

There are around 600 launderettes listed online for London, around one per ward, making them available to almost every citizen within walking distance, which Sian Berry believes is the minimum needed to provide a suitable level of social support for everyone.

At its peak there were 12,500 launderettes nationwide in the 1980s. Around 3,000 remain, with one in five located in London.