Today the squatting trial in Brighton was adjourned until the 24th May as it ran out of time due to extreme faffing.
Two squatters had already had the case against them thrown out of court when the magistrates realised the prosecution hadn’t actually presented any evidence that they lived in the building. And the case against the third squatter looks pretty flimsy.
One of the freed defendants, said:
Some stories enrage you because there shouldn’t have to be anything more to say: no National Debate or serious frowny faces on Question Time. The HIV-positive asylum seeker and her 10-month-old child who starved to death in a Westminster flat last March. The teenager who set himself on fire in a council office in December after they refused to find him a home.
And now there’s 35-year-old homeless man Daniel Gauntlett, who died of hypothermia in Aylesford last week on the porch of an empty bungalow that he could not enter without facing arrest and a criminal record.
‘Property guardianship’ or ‘anti-squatting’ is a phenomenon which started in the Netherlands in the 1990s and has now spread to five other European countries, including the UK. Property guardians are essentially unofficial security guards, who pay to inhabit a building as their home, under the tenure of ‘license’.
Crucially, this is not a tenancy, and has none of the corresponding automatic rights of security of tenure. ‘Guardians’ usually pay £15-100 a week to do this, depending on the company involved, and the area they are in – the cost is always below market rent.
This afternoon, on my way back from a disturbing bike ride around Mayfair, where money is almost literally oozing out of every orifice of those who find it easier than ever to enrich themselves at the expense of society as a whole, I arrived back at Charing Cross, to catch the train back to south east London, where I was confronted by the front page of the Evening Standard announcing, “London Squatter First to Be Jailed,” which threw me into an angry depression.
The first known arrests over the new squatting law happened today.
Three squatters occupying a commercial property in Brighton, who were using the upstairs residential area as an un-lived in social centre, were arrested after a seven hour standoff. The two rooftop occupiers vanished into thin air!
There are also unconfirmed reports of arrests in Somerset.
Birmingham Tenants & Homeless Action Group have occupied an abandoned council house with the intention of handing it over to a homeless person. They’ve contacted the council and demanded that they put the property back into use as low cost social housing and then do the same with the other nearly 12,000 empty properties around the city. Otherwise they have said that despite changes to the law on squatting they will continue with occupations of the other empty properties with the intention of handing them over to the homeless. With 11,924 empty properties, the highest rate of homelessness in the country and an estimate by city planners that Birmingham is currently short of 11,000 affordable homes, putting the abandoned houses back into use is the only logical step
With hours left before squatting in a residential property became illegal; a Territorial support group backing up enforcement officers smashed their way into a residential property in Dalston yesterday and unlawfully evicted the building of its many residents.
This post is by Leigh Day & Co legal firm who are coordinating the legal challenge and was originally posted on their blog here…
A mother of four from Wales is taking legal action challenging the new anti-squatting legislation, coming into force today (1 September 2012), in a bid to stay in the house she has lived in for 11 years with her children.
It looks like the squatban will come in on September1 (here’s pretty incontrovertible evidence).
This is .. surprising since there was a silence for a while.
This is … exciting because now there’s going to be some action.
This is … sad because people are probably going to lose their homes and derelict buildings reclaimed for housing are now going to be returned to emptiness.
We will resist the squatting ban by any means necessary.
The Squatter’s Network of Brighton is calling for a Mass Squatting Action on October 13th to resist the new anti-squatting laws. This act is draconian, unworkable, an attack on our way of living and some of the most vulnerable in our society. We will not take it lying down.
Mainstream media reports - The government has signalled that it will be moving to ban squatting.
Minister without Portfolio in the Housing Ministry, Dr. Morais Guy, in his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Parliament yesterday said the ministry is looking at implementing a modern Trespass Act which will address the issue of squatting.
By Our man in Amsterdam
A new documentary on the squatters’ movement by João Romão, a Portuguese economist and activist living in Amsterdam, has just been released. Squatted Freedom, a one-hour limited-budget film, combines archival footage and interviews with current and former squatters to examine the history and politics of the movement as well as the wave of recent, violent evictions of squats in Amsterdam.
Squatted Freedom is a fascinating film. The story of the squatters’ movement, past and present, is both captivating and inspiring. Violent confrontations between police and squatters have been taking place since the 1980s and continue into the present. Squatted Freedom reaches its climax during an intense standoff and eventual confrontation between squatters and riot police attempting to evict a prominent Amsterdam squat, a scene which Romão and his colleagues were lucky enough to capture on film. [Read More]