Monday, 28 December 2015

Demonstrate On January 5th, Against The Housing and Planning Bill

On January 5th, Architects for Social Housing (ASH) and many others will demonstrate against the Housing and Planning Bill which will pave the way for further mass demolition of social housing.

Pushed by Greg Clark – Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government, the bill will extend the Right to Buy scheme to housing association homes, oblige local powers to sell ‘high-value housing’ and phase out secure tenancies for council tenants. Acting both as tool of division between housing association tenants and legal groundwork for the mass privatisation of council housing, the Housing and Planning Bill is worrying and malicious in equal measure.

Oddly and sinisterly, the Bill will apply planning permission for the regeneration of social housing as ‘brownfield land’ – a category usually reserved for post-industrial wasteland. Council estates with communities within them will be reclassified as wasteland. A dramatic increase in the already heightened drive to destroy social housing will unsurprisingly follow. Architects for Social Housing write:

Rather than alleviating the housing ‘crisis’, either by building genuinely affordable homes or by increasing provision of social housing, the Bill seeks to use that crisis for political and financial ends. On the one hand, it forces local housing authorities to implement Conservative housing policy, and on the other it takes planning power away from those authorities. Both these hands, the one compelling, the other taking, are wielded by what, if the Bill is passed, will be new and punitive powers of the Secretary of State, not only against the people who rely on social housing for a home, but also against the councils and housing associations that provide them.

There is absolutely nothing in the Bill for the provision of social housing. Instead, it introduces legislation by which existing social housing is to be either sold into private ownership or demolished to make way for new developments. The Bill’s model of home building is driven by state subsidised incentives for private investors that will increase, rather than check, existing speculation on the property market. Under the tattered banner of austerity, the Housing and Planning Bill is in reality legislation for the social cleansing of London in particular, and more generally for the further dismantling of the welfare state by this Conservative government.

An unapologetic act of class warfare, the Housing and Planning Bill will push social housing tenants further into precarity. Although a demonstration in central London will not be enough, it will hopefully provide a spark to again reinvigorate the drive for housing security and resistance. The Carpenters, Guinness and Aylesbury estate occupations catalysed the reclamation of social housing. The Housing and Planning Bill will mean this reclamation continues or we lose our social housing altogether.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Then the question arises – where will we live?

If the Housing and Planning Bill is designed – as we know it is – not to provide affordable housing but to remove the obligation to build it;

If the Bill is designed not to build homes for the people who need them but to subsidise private investment in housing with public money;

If the Bill is designed not to help renters onto the property ladder but to lose more homes for social rent under the Right to Buy;

If the Bill is designed to sell off ‘high value’ council homes to the rich and not replace them for the poor;

If the Bill is designed not to free up social housing for those who need it but to raise existing rents to market rates for people who cannot afford them;

If the Bill is designed to demolish existing housing estates under the cloak of regeneration and replace them with starter homes for the rich;

If the Bill is designed to end secure tenancies, not in order to reflect social mobility but to free up property for private sale or demolition;

If the Bill is designed not to alleviate the housing ‘crisis’ but to end social housing in this country, and in doing so drive hundreds of thousands of people into an even further inflated private rental market, temporary accommodation and homelessness;

Then the question arises – where will we live?

Where will the poor live?

Where will those with disabilities live?

Where will the elderly and the vulnerable live?

Where will those on low incomes live?

Where will those on zero-hour contracts live?

Where will the key workers live?

Where will the nurses and firemen and teachers live?

Where will the cleaners and carers live?

Where will the workers live?

Where will the double-income families on the minimum wage live?

Where will the students and unemployed youth live?

Where will those refused housing benefit live?

Where will the single mothers live?

Where will the women and children escaping domestic abuse live?

Where will the unemployed live?

Where will those on sickness benefits live?

Where will those who depend on the support of their community to survive live?

Where will those who need care live?

Where will those now in temporary accommodation live?

Where will the people evicted from their homes live?

Where will the communities whose estates have been demolished live?

Where will the homeless live?

Where will those who cannot afford private rents live?

Where will those who cannot afford a mortgage live?

Where will those whose parents can’t put a deposit on a home live?

Where will those who weren’t born into privilege and security and wealth live?

Where will the working classes live?

Where will the people of Britain live?

To answer this question, we should consider the Housing and Planning Bill, not in isolation but in relation to the other legislation passed by this government:

To the cuts to housing, unemployment and disability benefits;

To the attacks on the trades unions, workers’ rights and working tax credits;

To the introduction of compulsory labour for the unemployed;

To the privatisation of our National Health Service, railways, mail, banks, schools, prisons, police force and other publicly owned assets;

To the selling off of our public land, industries and services to private investors;
To the dismantling of the welfare state and its replacement with state sanctioned powers in the service of private corporations;

To the removal of our human rights and civil liberties in the name of protecting our freedom.

If we consider this wave of legislation, then the answer to the question of where we will live must also consider the possibility that everything in the Housing and Planning Bill points to the conclusion that we will end up living in the workhouse.

It is the possibility of this answer that we should consider carefully when confronting the consequences of this Bill and what we must do to oppose it.

Simon Elmer - Architects for Social Housing

Thursday, 10 December 2015

No More Deaths On Our Streets - Homelessness Kills

I have taken the liberty to cut and paste the following article from a report about a rough sleeper, in Glasgow, a single homeless man for whom 'tragedy' and very much like a thief who came in the middle of the night and stole without reservation his whole life.

His tragedy was that of being unable to put a roof over his head, which led to his premature death, a death that could have been prevented given the existence of political will that is very much missing in what some will have us believe to be a civilised and humane society.

The truth is we are in a great many respects far from being civilised and humane when you chew on some of these hard statistics.

From the records of deaths in England between 2001-2009, 1,731 were identified as having been homeless people. Of these 90% were male and 10% female whereas the gender split of deaths of the adult general population is 48% male and 52% female.  

Nearly a third of the deaths of homeless people identified from the records were in the London region.

Homeless people are more likely to die young, with an average age of death of 47 years old and even lower for homeless women at 43, compared to 77 for the general population, 74 for men and 80 for women. It is important to note that this is not life expectancy; it is the average age of death of those who die on the streets or while resident in homeless accommodation.

Man found dead in Glasgow city centre lane was sleeping rough (Glasgow Evening Times 9/12/2015)

POLICE have identified a man who was found dead in a city centre lane
The 41-year-old was discovered by horrified office workers in Wellington Lane, near to West Campbell Street, yesterday morning.

He is believed to have been sleeping rough in the lane.

An investigation was launched and officers sealed off the lane at around 6.30am.

Forensic specialists are due to carry out a post-mortem examination in a bid to establish the cause of death.

Police said the death was not being treated as "suspicious" but a full investigation was under way.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: "Police were called to a report of a man lying unconscious in Wellington Lane, in Glasgow city centre, at around 6.30am.

"Officers attended and the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

"The death is not being treated as suspicious and a report will be sent to the procurator fiscal."

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Squat Update: Squatters Homeless Autonomy

As we revealed in our last posting, we were in court last Friday to defend and maintain our continued occupation of the old Hope & Anchor public house Mornington Crescent, Camden

As expected we lost legal and lawful possession and were ordered to leave the property forthwith by a very unsympathetic Judge. On Monday, the court order was posted on the doors and all around the building - We are still here and are expecting the bailiffs accompanied by the police at any time, most likely early morning.

We Are Now On Full Lockdown

We have put the squat on full lockdown as we intend in finally resisting eviction which is a trademark now of the SHA crew. The lighthearted and those who have no stomach for eviction have left the building, it’s important to emphasize that this crew is hardcore political housing activists fighting and contributing to the London-wide struggle against gentrification.

As you would expect we wait in some 'trepidation' for the bailiffs knock on our door, during the last few days comrades have been and it's understandable, been on edge a wee bit and, we have other things going on at the same time, you can't blame anyone for this when you consider the violence we have endured at the hands of the bailiffs during the course of the last year, and of course, many comrades are only young, having said that we have sufficient numbers to defend and resist eviction and the barricades are good.

Who Owns The Building - I Should Koko

Oliver (Olly) Bengough is a British entrepreneur and media mogul. He is best known for his transformation of the KOKO music venue and is the founder of the broadcasting channel Cinémoi.

According to Wikipedia, Bengough opened his first bar “Lunasa” in 2000 at the age of 23, transforming a rundown pub into one of the most respected bars along King's Road. A year later, in 2001, Bengough founded the Mint Group, under which he would go on to launch 5 other venues across London.

In 2003, Bengough collaborated with Groove Armada to expand the Lovebox Music Festival from a small monthly club night to a festival handling over 50,000 people per weekend.

Bengough a multi-millionaire, spent in the region of £6,000 to have us slung out onto the street and tried to have the costs awarded against us including a telephone call costing £320, we must also add that we have not been dealing with Bengough directly but with a paid sidekick with a brown nose, this sidekick claims that a leak from our building which backs onto Koko, had initially had been the cause of £6,000 worth of damage, this has now jump to £20,000. We have been presented with no evidence and there is no visible sign of any leak on our side.   

Obar Camden Limited is the trading name that Bengough has chosen for Koko and most recently Obar brought a judicial review in respect of a planning permission granted by London Borough of Camden for the conversion of  the Hope & Anchor that as we have already said is adjacent to Koko into residential flats, the pub’s then owner, Vidacraft Ltd, also planned to build a three-storey extension and either shops or estate agent’s offices on the ground floor. which led to the High Court quashing the planning permission. Justice Stewart found four out of five grounds in the claim in Obar’s favour, and now Obar own the building proving that we live in the world where dog eats dog.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Housing - Turned It Into A Money Making Crisis

Shelter, housing is a basic human need, one that capitalism has turned into a money making crisis of unparalleled proportions and nowhere so than in London. Housing and Planning Minister, Brandon Lewis wants the demolition of London’s housing estates and their replacement with owner occupied ‘city villages’. It’s a scheme the Tories have long favoured; 13 London Boroughs have already this year (June) met property developers and speculators at an exclusive trade fair at Berkeley Square to make deals to pull down the estates and build homes for sale or private rent. The thirteen London Boroughs that have taken part  are Barnet, Brent, Camden, Ealing, Hackney, Haringey, Hounslow, Kingston, Lewisham, Richmond, Southwark, Wandsworth and Westminster. Tenants are, of course, kept out of all meetings. Cash-strapped councils are eagerly looking for ways of saving money. By persuading them to sell their estates and land, the Tories are giving them a solution that will be extremely costly for the rest of us.

By destroying council housing, the Tories are ‘socially cleansing’ working class people out of the capital. Most can’t afford to buy, especially not at London prices which have hit a new record high (over £500,000 for an average home). The result will be even greater pressure on the private rented sector. This will mean higher rents and more street homelessness (which has risen 55% in the past four years). At the same time, Housing Associations will be forced to sell off their best “properties”. This will further reduce the number of homes available for working people.

In addition, Brandon Lewis has made it now easily done to convert old factories, warehouses and offices to be converted into housing. First introduced in 2013, temporarily permitted development rights have enabled offices to be converted to new homes without having to apply for planning permission. It has meant that between April 2014 and June this year, almost 4,000 conversions were given the go-ahead. These rights according to the ministry were set to expire on 30 May 2016 – potentially introducing a raft of unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy that would have hampered the conversion of underused office buildings and slowed down the delivery of thousands of new homes to be sold on the open market and keeping at bay any interference from hostile local authorities and totally ignoring the chronic shortfall and deficit of good quality council housing, that would if only available, start to make an indent and address the needs of London's 4 percent currently languishing and forced to suffer as they remain in an unpleasant place and situation - on the council waiting list.

Lewis announced that these permitted development rights will now be made permanent. In addition, those who already have permission will have 3 years in which to complete the change of use and the rights will in future allow the demolition of office buildings and a new building for residential use.
In addition, new permitted development rights will enable the change of use of light industrial buildings and launderettes to new homes.

So when the Tories made an election pledge to extend the right to buy to housing associations, nobody thought they’d really be stupid enough to actually do it. But it has gone ahead, and housing associations have reached a back door deal to push it through.

What will it mean? Well, much less social housing for sure. There are 2,343,000 housing association properties and it is the biggest sector providing social housing. It is estimated that 24,000 tenants a year will be able to afford to buy their homes with an average discount of £63,271, which is 35% below market price. The government’s theory is that it will increase the number of homeowners (which they’re desperate to do since home ownership is dramatically declining) and (somehow) double the number of homes available, if replacement homes are built, though it’s very vague on this last point, the key word here being ‘if’. The National Housing Federation (NHF) has calculated that if all housing association tenants who could buy their own homes did so, the cost would be £11.2bn.

Monday, 12 October 2015

From Brixton To Holloway, Hackney to Elephant and Castle, Property Developers Are Closing Down Our Shops And Pub

This is a post from the Rabble blog about my squatting crew “Squatters and Homeless Autonomy” (SHA) and an eviction that we endured and survived last week.

Yesterday (Monday 5 October) TSG riot cops alongside bailiffs came in force to evict the Mamelon Tower squat in Kentish Town, North London, which had been occupied by “Squatters and Homeless Autonomy” (fakebook page). The Met’s finest meatheads met impressive barricades and concerted resistance and it took six hours for them to enter the building. Six people were arrested for “affray”. A noise demo took place yesterday evening outside the police station where they were being held. We will post further updates and calls for solidarity as we get more news. We repost below the statement by SHA on yesterday’s events, and also the statement they published when they first squatted the building.

SHA statement 6 October

Yesterday the occupied Mamelon Tower was evicted by TSG and court enforcement officers after a standoff lasting over six hours. Beginning around half-past nine, bailiffs were soon stopped by a barrage of resistance inside and out. Unable to break barricades on several doors, they and local police drafted in two TSG units. In full riot gear, TSG broke into the building, immediately arresting all but one of those inside. It took the riot cops a further four hours before managing to evict the final occupier, who had climbed onto a ledge in resistance.

Squatters and Homeless Autonomy deeply value the solidarity expressed by locals of this working-class area. Tea and coffee, food and a willingness to resist police and bailiff thuggery were abundant. Working-class unity is the basis for effective and empowering resistance against gentrification, empty buildings and rising levels of homelessness. The actions of local people during the Mamelon Tower eviction were a fierce display of this community resistance. Squat and fight for autonomous spaces!
SHA Statement 27 August

Gentrification is class warfare. Whether it is libraries closed by Tory cutbacks, council estates demolished and replaced by yuppie flats, or pubs and local shops forced to close due to soaring rent prices, make no mistake: the destruction of working-class areas is intentional.

Squatters and Homeless Autonomy have occupied the Mamelon Tower in Kentish Town to oppose the eviction of tenants there and the replacement of working-class culture with yuppie flats. Historic pubs, such as this, have always maintained the connections within working-class areas. In an age of isolation, knowing your neighbours is the first step to resistance; and the closure of buildings such as this is an effort to divide us and make this resistance impossible – replacing our power with their profit.

The developer at the Mamelon Tower, Macneil Ltd., has a net-worth of over four million pounds, and will make hundreds of thousands more from selling the “authentic north London experience” wrapped up in an upmarket flat to toffs all around.

But grassroots resistance to gentrification is happening. Tenants and squatters are resisting evictions at the Guinness Estate, where young people refuse to cooperate with the pigs. Past demonstrations Reclaim Brixton, Reclaim Camden and Reclaim the Beats have shown the vigour with which we can fight back. The Queer Punks Collective fought against the destruction of queer culture by an overtly straight gentrifying force with the occupation of the recently closed Black Cap in Camden. The upcoming Reclaim Shoreditch demo on September 26th promises to show yet another example of fierce community resistance. All around London, an angry dissatisfaction is growing.

We are using the space at the Mamelon Tower as both an organising and community space. A public library space will be opening here soon, and the first anti-gentrification coffee morning and cinema evening will be taking place tomorrow, Friday 28th, from 2:00pm.

From Brixton to Holloway, Hackney to Elephant and Castle, property developers are closing down our shops and pubs, bailiff scumbags are evicting our friends, Bullingdon boys are closing our schools, libraries and hospitals. Let’s give them the “authentic north London experience”: let’s evict them from our city.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

People don't risk death unless...

We are facing the largest movement of refugees since the World War II. The number of people forced to leave their homes rose to a record 60 million last year - with most of those people fleeing Syria's horrific war or coming from countries such as Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, and Iraq.

Migrants have been making appalling and terrifying journeys and all too often dying in the process.

People don't risk death unless they are desperate for life. People don't decide to uproot families unless that is the only choice available. But the response so far has been to vilify the people risking everything to get here, while fortifying borders: building more walls, erecting more fences, sending more militarised patrols, and raising the possibility of bombing the "death boats". As the walls go up around the borders, they have blocked our capacity to see the connections between foreign policies and the people living beyond our fortified frontiers.

Rather than dream of permanent relocation, refugees often wish to return home, if they could. 'Humanitarianism' begins to take on another dimension with walls and warships to turn back refugees seeking political asylum and sanctuary. Civilians have little option but to flee their homes from war and conflict, fueled and financed by arms supplied by the Big Powers and their proxies. Immigrant movements will not stop by razor wire. It will only force immigrants to change direction not destination.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Get To Know The Enemy And Their Agents

Get To Know The Enemy And Their Agents `

Has always been my own golden rule during the last 40 years of activism whether as a shop steward or just by vigorous campaigning to bring about and be a part of political and social change.

During the last 10 months of activism, occupation and squatting in London, one company has become very familiar to many a squatting crew and ours in particular. We have been evicted by them (County) so many times that I’ve even lost count of their involvement in our many outings and oustings.

County Enforcement Group operate nationwide, specialising in the areas of Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR), High Court enforcement, forfeiture of leases, removal of travellers, eviction of squatters and persons unknown, process serving, investigations and vacant building security.

Without even researching the statistics - my guess is this business has probably done very well since the financial crash of 2008 and subsequent years.       

County Enforcement have become our very own nemesis, the inescapable agent of London’s property owning class and their developers, turning over, turning out for profit whole areas, and working class communities swept away like dirt or litter in the process.

BAILIFFS are knocking on more doors than ever before as people face mounting debt and  council tax arrears have taken over from credit card debt as families strive to make ends meet.  Welfare reform, the reduction in tax credits and benefit cap have left many families in crisis.  

Leicester City Council used bailiffs more than 17,000 times in a year to recover millions of pounds of debts, it has been revealed. The use of bailiffs now legally called enforcement agents are being used more and more;  The number of people evicted from their rented homes hit record levels in 2014, according to official figures published in February, with rising rents and changes to benefits amongst the factors taking their toll on tenants’ finances.

Data from the Ministry of Justice showed that 42,000 homes were repossessed by landlords in England and Wales during the year, a rate of 115 a day. This was the highest figure since the records began in 2000 and came as the number of mortgage borrowers having their homes repossessed fell to its lowest level in eight years.

Peter Mooney - Senior Partner County Enforcement Group:

Peter (Money) Mooney described as a senior partner but in my estimation is, in fact, the sole owner in this repugnant, disgusting and abominable business.      

Mooney has been a Commercial Bailiff certificated by the county court for 30 years - he was the process server who personally served Arthur Scargill and the NUM with the injunction that froze the assets of the union.

He also served the union representatives in the disputed move from Fleet-Street to Wapping by the News International newspaper group and Rupert Murdoch's News International Titles with the injunction that seized the assets of the Unions.

Despite what's claimed on Counties’ website none of the above disputes were ended by the serving of any single injunction by and on behalf of the courts, and I have no need to go into these histories and past events here, only to say that the biggest contributing factor was the hesitance and indifference on the part of some bureaucratic Labour and Trade Union leaders to do anything.

County bailiffs are ruthless and will use violence to achieve an eviction whilst any police in attendance turn a blind eye, members of our squatting crew have been on the receiving end and can testify to this.

Some of the worst thugs in Britain are the bailiffs the government and corporations send out to collect their debts, they use intimidation tactics on the elderly and the poor, they take furniture and other belongings without permission or compassion and charge you £200 for it! and that’s all legal!

The trouble is bailiffs use bully tactics, they use intimidation on people that most of the time do not have much money, but that’s OK they will just take your furniture and sell it at an auction if it gets them a few quid, they even go after the elderly, the sick and the disabled! Pay your debts people say and you will not get bailiffs knocking your door, but who collects the debts from the corporations and governments when they rip us all off with bank charges and massive tax on cars, tobacco, alcohol, food, gas, electric and everything else they can possibly tax! Tesco, Amazon, News corp, Vodafone, and other massive corporation pay as little as 1% tax on their profit, why don’t the government send bailiffs to the tax evaders, take their stock and auction it? because the British governments are puppets to the corporations and the banks. A 71-year-old woman was jailed for a second time after refusing to pay her council tax! Josephine Rooney was sent to prison two years ago after withholding payment because she believed the local authority had failed to prevent her once-elegant street from being overrun by drug dealers.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

A New Society Is Not Created By Steps Toward Socialism

Everywhere people are waking up and fighting against the oppression and exploitation which is a daily fact of their lives. The lies of the ruling class about “prosperity” are being further exposed every-day. There is prosperity alright – but it is for a handful of rich capitalists – the conditions of the working people are getting worse and worse. This system of capitalism is set up with one thing in mind – to make the most profits possible for the handful of people who own the big banks and corporations. It is the system under which we, and our parents and grandparents before us, have done all the work. We mine the mines, build the buildings, manufacture all the products: and then get just enough to live on – if we fight hard enough for it! On the other hand the small capitalist class builds up huge fortunes off of our labour.

The Socialist Way stands for the complete overthrow of the world capitalist system. There is only one class capable of conducting the struggle for a successful socialist revolution. That class is the working class. The workers have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win!

All the resources for a world of abundance, without pollution, disease and squalor, exist at the present time in skill, technique and science. They are the same resources used to produce pollution and destruction.

Humanity is at a crossroads. Capitalism’s continued rule offers humanity nothing but more wars, more mass acts of terror and grinding exploitation and poverty.

The world’s working class, the one class with no essential interest in oppression or exploitation, has the potential to put an end to capitalist barbarism. If it rises up to overthrow the capitalists in revolutions the planet over, it can take hold of the productive power of the world economy to put an end to poverty and build a world of abundance for all. It can end the racism, chauvinism and sex and gender oppression that thrives on capitalism’s world of want and competition.

Only by building a global movement can the working class prepare itself for the titanic task of undoing the disasters the capitalists keep making - and building a new world in their place.

A new society is not created by steps toward socialism.

There are no short cuts. There are several parties and groups around today such as Counterfire or Left Unity to name but two from a long list (Heinz baked beans and 57 other varieties) that call themselves “communist” or “socialist”.  This Blog has important disagreements with them. These parties and groupings all have one thing in common – they all dress themselves up with high-sounding revolutionary phrases, but underneath they are defenders of capitalism.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Poverty gap widening

Last week we were contacted by Press TV and did the following interview:

A new study has found that the number of millionaires in the UK has increased significantly within the past five years.

Figures released by Barclays, a British multinational banking and financial services company, indicate that Britain now boasts 41 percent more millionaires than it did five years ago.
According to the report, there are now 715,000 millionaires living in Britain compared with 508,000 in 2010.

It is estimated that one in 65 British adults is now categorized as having a seven-figure fortune.
The rise is seen as a result of booming house prices and stock market gains.

Read More:

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Last Of The Summer Wine - Squat Update

As if children around the country who are on their last weeks of summer holidaying don't already know it - but the weather has taken an unfavourable turn in recent weeks.
Which we also notice here, the change slowly in hand in our squat as we move closer to Autumn, there is a wee chill about in the morning and early evening, but not as yet that ferrous like and biting cold, but it’s not far away that's for sure, something for all of us to look forward to I suppose - and I'm joking of course.

Just keeping warm and eating the right quantities of healthy food will be the next battlefront to be fought on by many a family in the coming months. What a job parents have had to do this summer in just feeding hungry young people during these annual holidays but still 40 per cent of teachers believed children weren’t eating enough in these holidays, and even research from Kelloggs has shown that one in five families struggled to feed their kids during this time.

Facing Eviction Once More

After almost six weeks we went to court yesterday to defend our occupation of this former Victorian public house here in Kentish Town, Camden. The result was predictably the same as it has always been in all of the buildings we have occupied during the course of the last 10 months - ordered to be turned out onto the streets. The owner however, did fail to gain an interim possession order in court as he neglect to attach a response sheet to the paperwork served on us, however, the Judge did award a full possession order which we believe is somewhat unusual in these circumstances so we will be considering lodging an appeal after the bank holiday weekend.

Open Weekend And Film Nights

Queens Crescent facilitates one of London's oldest Street markets which did have up to 90 mainly family-run stalls that have been passed down from generation to generation but sadly like so many such markets situated in such working class parts of London is now in decline and only half the allocated stall spaces are in use, a singing of the times. Queen's Crescent market has been described in the past as a mixture, with pretty plain white houses sitting side by side with large council estates, some of which sit in beautifully landscaped grounds.

It is therefore evident from our stay in and on Queens Crescent that the general population are being squashed, squished like mud under foot and squeezed by austerity, the cuts, and of course gentrification as the developers move in which is part of the plan which the owner (in partnership with the Royal Bank of Scotland) of this property is hoping to profit from.

Yesterday, we opened our doors to the public and invited those interested to take a look at our squat, to take tea, coffee and enjoy skipped cake from a high-class cake shop in Soho. We set up a free book stall outside our door and gave away balloons to children, the response was amazing and very supportive. A postman told us that he was very worried about the future in an area that has been home to generations of the same families, we received donations of both food and money and in the evening we held a film showing featuring some short films about gentrification in other European countries and how to fight it such as in Turkey with the main film showing of Cathy Come Home by Ken Loach made in 1966 still very power today. The play tells the story of a young couple, Cathy (played by Carol White) and Reg (Ray Brooks). Initially their relationship flourishes; they have a child and move into a modern home. When Reg is injured and loses his job, they are evicted by bailiffs, and they face a life of poverty and unemployment, illegally squatting in empty houses and staying in shelters for the homeless. Finally, Cathy has her children taken away by social services.

The day was indeed very successful we hope to do much more of this sort of thing in times to come.

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