London: The Battle for Deptford and Beyond

In Deptford in south east London, local campaigners have occupied a 20-year old community garden to prevent it from being boarded up and razed to the ground by Lewisham Council and the housing association, Peabody. They are also highlighting the absurdity of proposals to demolish 16 structurally sound council flats next door to build new social housing.

What’s happening in Deptford reflects two pressing concerns in the capital today. The first is the prioritising of house-building projects over pressing environmental concerns. The second is the destruction of social housing to create new developments that consist of three elements: housing for private sale, shared ownership deals that are fraught with problems, and new social housing that’s smaller, more expensive and offering tenants less security than what is being destroyed.

The proposed destruction is part of a plan to build new housing not only on the site of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden and Reginald House flats, but also on the site of the old Tidemill Primary School, which closed in 2012. Peabody intends to build 209 units of new housing on the site, of which 51 will be for private sale, with 41 for shared ownership, and 117 at what is described as “equivalent to social rent”, although that is untrue. The rents on the latter will fall under London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s London Affordable Rent, which is around 63% higher than existing council rents in Lewisham.
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London: Homeless Festival Was a Stark Reminder of How Bad Things Have Got

Immersed in the fun of Streets Fest, you could have been excused for forgetting, just for a day, how vast a crisis homelessness in Britain has become.

Unless, of course, your first sight after walking out of Finsbury Park tube station – towards the health and wellbeing festival for homeless and vulnerably housed people – was a rough sleeper, apparently lifeless and surrounded by paramedics, as mine was this Monday morning.

It was a brutal sign of the times and a stark reminder of why charities are tasked with picking up where those with the power to change the fate of thousands have fallen down. And it is happening in a country where more than 8,000 people are forced to sleep rough on any one night, and at least 300,000 face homelessness. This is an era in which grassroots organisations, such as Streets Kitchen, find themselves having to host a special event – by some cruel irony, in one of the nation’s homelessness hotspots – to offer basic services to vulnerable people. It seems we have reached peak austerity Britain.
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London: Queens in Furs guided tour of Brixton

In the 1970s Britain was saturated in political activity right across the board. Not just in the Labour movement, trade unions and the Left but also the new social movements were particularly active in challenging the oppressive established order especially the black, women’s and gay liberation movements. The environmental, countercultural, squatters’ and claimants’ organisations were also fully engaged in defending people against poverty, homelessness, the destruction of the environment and experimenting with ‘alternative’ lifestyles. Throughout this period the anti-apartheid movement, the Anti-Nazi League and Troops out of Ireland challenged the racist regime in South Africa, the growing menace of racism and fascism and the continuing military occupation of Northern Ireland. In the early 70s there were still lively anti-Vietnam war demonstrations. Much of this ‘crucible’ of radical activity provided the ingredients for how politics were practised locally in Brixton.
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London: Streets Fest on Monday!

CALL OUT TO ALL SQUATTERS / HOMELESS / TRAVELLERS
All Day Free BBQ / Hairdressers / Doctors / Vets / Showers / Opticians / Housing, Squatting, Boat Advice / Free Clothes /

#STREETSFEST #STREETSKITCHEN #FINSBURYPARK #NFAAF

Bringing together 50+ groups and services
Monday 10th September – Finsbury Park (2pm – 8pm)

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London: Check out that A.S.S.

Squatters beware – there have been multiple cases in the last few weeks of people being arrested for burglary when squatting a place. With that in mind the Advisory Service for Squatters (A.S.S.) would like to remind people a few things to keep them safe if faced with arrest:

  1. No comment – You might be able to explain your situation to the police, but in 99% of cases what you say to them will not get you out of the cells any faster, and can be used to incriminate you or any other people arrested. If you go to court it can all be used against you, especially if you are caught fibbing to the rozzers. Say NO COMMENT to any questions the police ask you and keep you and your crew safe.
  2. Have a bail address – someone who doesn’t mind telling the police that you stay with them sometimes and that you can possibly stay with for a bit if the police do put any bail conditions on you. You don’t want to give them an excuse to keep you in prison.
  3. Know a legal firm to call – don’t in any circumstances take the duty solicitor provided by the police. Remember the name of one of the solicitor firms on the bust card, available at all good anarchist soical centres and refuse t have an interview until your lawyers are called.

Good luck out there! Feed the pigeons!

From Squatters of London Action Paper Issue 9 (pdf) – back issues here

NFA Antifascists

London: Report back from TAA May

Temporary Autonomous Arts was in May determined to return to its roots as a squatted exhibition. A decrepit long term empty in Bow was transformed into a blank canvas by the TAA mob, who then were boosted after 24 hours notice after a rapid-response possession order requested them to attend High Court in Birmingham. Undeterred, a second building was snatched in North Woolwich and repurposed against the clock. The TAA opened as planned on the Wednesday to a splatter of spoken word,followed up by a blinding cabaret gig featuring public urination, wild drag anarchy from Jizmik Hunt and the body-positive monarchy-bashing of Glittasphxia.

Saturday things started turning sour, with a day of escalating violence and conflict between the squatters and locals over accusations of the graffing of a pie’n’mash shop and breakins by kids into thee building culminating with 20 roided-up cops turning up to face-off against the 60 or so mob holding the courtyard. The gigs were
cut short after the cops broke out the Criminal Justice Act and threatened to seize the sound system. Concerned for the safety of the artworks, equipment and liberty of the guests, the TAA crew elected to keep the music off and let the night deflate like a wet fart in a wet paper bag. Opinions are divided, with some people furious
that another building in London has been burnt for the sake of a “anarchohipster lollapallooza”, and others
arguing that the TAA crew made a tactical decision in a tight spot.

From Squatters of London Action Paper Issue 9 (pdf) – back issues here

NFA Antifascists

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London: Kurdistan Place

Kurdish youth and supporters, some linked to Plan C, have occupied a vacant building near Edgware Road.

Kurdistan Place was occupied by friends of Anna Campbell last week in solidarity with the Kurdish Freedom Movement. In a statement, the occupiers said:

We want this space to enable learning about Kurdish culture and Kurdish liberation’s emancipatory politics. We also want this space to enable solidarity and anti-capitalist organising. Anna was involved with a similar project in 2012 called Palestine Place, an occupation of a building in Chancery Lane, which was set up to highlight the need for solidarity, support and knowledge about the occupation of Palestinian territories in the West Bank and the ongoing siege of Gaza by Israel and Egypt. We want to use this space as a means to promote radical social change and revolution.

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London: Radical Residency

Welcome to the Radical Residency! This is a space created by students, artists, radicals, unwaged and waged workers and activists. Radical Residency was set up by poc, queer and radical peeps who scrawl their joy and their rage upon the walls. We put on workshops and events that challenge traditional education and political institutions. We celebrate through solidarity, music, art and learning. We nurture self-development and self-awareness, being reflective and critical of all that we know and that we strive towards. Drop your binaries and your prejudices at the door and actively engage through radical listening and participation.

On Friday 9th March we are having our hearing at 3:30pm at the County Court at The Mayors and City of London Court Guildhall Buildings, Basinghall Street, London EC2V 5AR. We are calling for support and solidarity. Share with your comrades and help us remind the trustees of the British Museum who the real thieves are.

Below is our manifesto:
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London: Solidarity space

Since temperatures are so low and homelessness is still a big issue, some people came to an idea of opening a safe space shelter available to everyone! [Squatted March1, still there March6]

So the building is at 204 Great Portland Street, entrance from 56 Bolsover Road (Sophia House). At the moment there’s some issues with electricity, however there is possibility to brew hot drinks and despite lack of heating at the moment it is still warmer & dryer than out on the street
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UK: The social centres roundup

For all its small size and general impoverishment the libertarian socialist movement actually runs a surprisingly large amount of real estate around Britain, all on non-hierarchical lines, by and for the people of the cities and towns we’re in. Housing co-ops, bookshops, bike collectives, archives, distros, printers and the like are all part of the collective mix. Below, Freedom News briefly rounds up some goings-on at 15 radical social centres and spaces over the last few months. [Read More]

London: Because they were poor: The Grenfell

Angry Londoner writes: “The people who died and lost their homes – this happened to them because they are poor,” Akala, rapper and poet, local resident.

“Regeneration is a euphemism for ethnic and class cleansing”: Kensington resident and writer Ishmahil Blagrove.

Guilty: Boris Johnson. When Mayor of London he put through cuts including the closure of 10 fire stations and the loss of 552 firefighters jobs despite pre-election promises not to do so. When questioned over this at the Greater London Assembly he said: “Get Stuffed”. The loss to the fire services meant a slower response time to the fire, with fire teams having to be called in from outside London.

Guilty: Kensington and Chelsea Council. They repeatedly ignored warnings for years from residents about fire hazards. They attempted to close down a blogger, Francis O’Connor, member of the Grenfell Action Group (GAG) after he warned about fire hazards at Grenfell. They sent a lawyer to threaten him, which he ignored. Nicholas Paget-Brown, leader of the council, attended a private dinner to which he was invited by organizers of the MIPIM (property developers’ event) conference in 2015. The council has had plans to cleanse the residents and build luxury flats in the neighbourhood for the last three years. Now Paget-Brown is trying to put blame on the residents by falsely saying that they objected to water sprinklers. [Read More]

London: Grenfell Tower must mark a turning point for UK housing

Grenfell Tower must mark a turning point for UK housing – community protest called for Saturday 18 June, 12 noon.

In response to the horror at Grenfell Tower, Grenfell Action Group and Radical Housing Network have called a protest at Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) Town Hall this Saturday.

Radical Housing Network is a London-wide alliance of grassroots housing campaigns of which Grenfell Action Group are a member. The group are calling on estate campaigners, community groups and tenants from across London to join Saturday’s protest to demand #Justice4Grenfell. [Read More]