Squatters march through Brighton streets

Three squats are due in court as the owners of the buildings try and regain possession.

The protest started at 10.30 outside Brighton County Court in solidarity with the squatters in court. Once the last squatters have had their court case heard the protesters will march through the centre of Brighton to raise awareness of the benefits of squatting and the attack on squatting by right wing Hove MP, Mike Weatherly.

Alex Jones, a Brighton squatter, said

“Today Brighton County Court will hold possession order hearings on at least three squatted properties. Before the occupation of these buildings they had been empty for a number of years. None of the owners of the buildings have suggested they intend to use them, these hearings are attempts to make people homeless on a point of principle. We believe the right to shelter should outweigh the right of people to keep property vacant just because they have a piece of paper declaring them the owner.

At a time of recession more and more people are finding themselves homeless and vulnerably housed, squatting can provide a vital lifeline to many people. In Brighton – emergency accommodation is oversubscribed,

there are currently 14,000 [1] people on the council house waiting list and private housing is ridiculously overpriced. Even if the less wealthy can get accommodation, much of its cost must be borne by the state and, ultimately, the taxpayer.

Squatting gives homeless people the opportunity to take control of their lives, while putting little or no burden on the general public. As the law stands, the system is heavily weighted in the favour of the landlords, legal and illegal evictions are a constant threat, with most Brighton squats lasting only a few weeks.

The current government has decided that squatting needs to be attacked. At the end of last year an amendment was tagged on to the (already controversial) Legal Aid bill. Known as clause 26, the amendment criminalises squatting in all residential buildings regardless of how long they have been vacant – this was despite 95% of respondents to the governments own consultation opposing criminalisation [1]. Clause 26 will mean that if someone seeks shelter in an abandoned building they could face up to a year in prison. We believe this law will target tens of thousands of homeless people to the benefit a small, wealthy elite.

Whatever they say, squatting will stay.”


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