UK: Should we be worrying about a further assault on squatting rights?

On the 8th May the Evening Standard carried an article titled “Squatters law has wiped out almost all illegal home invasions in London” pointing out that less people were arrested for squatting in residential properties last year than when S144 first came in (what a surprise!).

On the 11th May some Tory MP called Philip Davies wrote to the Secretary of State for Justice [sic] to ask “what assessment he has made of changes in the prevalence of squatting in commercial premises following the introduction of the criminal provisions contained in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012” (to which the answer was that no data is collected).

Neither of these is unusual, but as the last attack (leading to S144) started with attacks from the “Standard” and some Tory MP, we should be prepared for an upsurge in attacks and for calls for full criminalisation.

But this time round, thanks to the Sofia House squat, other occupations, the Grenfell Tower disaster and other events, squatting, and generally requisitioning empty properties should be more easy to defend/push for. And we seem to have a leader of the opposition who would hopefully be less pliant.

Source

Durham (UK): Violence at protest camp eviction

Since the start of March, campaigners living at the Pont Valley Protection Camp, between Dipton and Leadgate in County Durham, have been protesting against opencast coal mining by the Banks Group, which has only until 3 June to extract coal from the mine before its planning permission runs out.

The camp was set up after petitions, open letters to the Secretary of State and the discovery of a protected species of great crested newt all failed to stop the mining from going ahead.

Between 19 and 21 April, the camp was evicted by bailiffs and seven campaigners were arrested. They have complained that during the eviction, bailiffs showed little consideration for individuals’ safety and subjected then to continuous abusive and sexist behaviour, which the police who were in attendance took no action against.

Instead, police officers used ‘section 35’ dispersal powers, intended for tackling anti-social behaviour, to disperse witnesses from the area.
[Read More]

Bournemouth (UK): Second Sanctuary eviction

The Sanctuary occupied homeless camp on Ashley Road, east Bournemouth, was evicted yesterday {March13}, leaving rough sleepers struggling to find anywhere safe to stay or put their belongings.

The camp was the second set up by homeless people working with Occupy Bournemouth activists in the wake of a brutal New Year eviction of a site on Exeter Road, opposite the Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) in which bailiffs tore down and crushed people’s belongings despite freezing conditions. An Occupy activist said:
[Read More]

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:
[Read More]

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
[Read More]

Manchester: Lessons of Cornerhouse

The Cornerhouse is a former theatre in Manchester squatted from January to August 2017 by self-organised homeless people linked to the Manchester Activist Network. This is their story.

As the final pieces of our belongings, donations and clothes were brought out of the infamous Cornerhouse it was time for Manchester Activist Network to reflect back on six months of occupation. From the Loose Space festival and surviving three eviction attempts, to the rough sleepers we housed and three other squats opened over that time, this had been a busy, and at times stressful but productive period that none of us will ever forget.

The biggest thing that came out of the Cornerhouse was a reaffirmation of the need for solidarity when we are faced with big issues. In order to fully tackle rough sleeping and stop the rise in homelessness we all need to be prepared to give a little of ourselves. Not money, but from inside of us. We need constructive dialogues, we need to drop the egos, forget about the “company line,” reflect on what we put our energies into and how we can change as individuals. Only then can we better the systemic problem that is homelessness. [Read More]

UK: Manchester homeless call out council ‘one way ticket’ scandal

Following revelations that Manchester Council has spent £10,000 on one-way tickets to push rough sleepers out of the city, activists have been expressing their disdain for executives’ excuses that the measure is aimed at “reconnecting” people with relatives who can help.

In a statement, Manchester Activist Network (MAN), which has been heavily involved in homeless self-organising in the city explained the real way in which the system works:

Person becomes homeless. Person goes to local town hall. Person is told no housing available, all the money is in Manchester. Person goes to Manchester and asks for help. Person told they have no local connection, go back home. Person kicks off a bit. Person is offered a train ticket to stop them from staying in Manchester long enough to be considered as having a local connection (six months). Decision time. Go back to the place that’s already failed you (and has a waiting least of two years+) or stay and take a chance in a city where at least the public care even if the council doesn’t. [Read More]

Manchester: Council gears up for eviction of the Addy

Andy Burnham’s Labour administration found itself in yet another mess over homelessness today as it made its first abortive attempt to scare a self-organised homeless group off an occupied site in Hulme — just days after pledging to “end homelessness” in Manchester.

The spectacle has been particularly humiliating for City bosses because the squatted empty property was once better known as North Hulme Adventure Playground — a community space which was shut down by council funding cuts cuts in 2014.

The council-owned land was occupied in August by around 40 people who had been evicted from Hotspur Press — itself an embarrassing episode for Mayor Burnham which prompted protests outside his office only weeks after his election on a ticket of helping rough sleepers. [Read More]

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]

Manchester: Shock eviction of Cornerhouse centre puts 20 people on streets

Homeless people rounded on Andy Burnham’s Labour administation in Manchester today after 20 people were rousted out of the well-regarded Cornerhouse squatted centre in an early-morning raid.

Manchester Activist Network, which has been heavily involved in the space, said today they will be looking to hold highly-paid council bosses to account for promises made during Mayor Burnham’s election campaign in May that his team would “end rough sleeping by 2020”:
[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]