from Focus E15
JANE HAS COME HOME
Jane is occupying her former council home as a political protest after she was evicted by Newham Labour council in March 2015. On Saturday 11th April, with full support from the Focus E15 campaign and many others, the doors of her former council flat were flung open and Jane threw a surprise house warming party. She was warmly welcomed back by her neighbours, family and friends. Jane was quick to hang up a newly made banner which states ‘Jane Come Home’ to the delight of her many well wishers and supporters who partied alongside her.
Jane has a daughter who is 14 years old. They were both evicted from their home on the 24 March 2015 after being a tenant of Newham council for 20 years. Another victim of the government’s harsh benefit sanctions, she fell into rent arrears when her Employment Support Allowance was suddenly stopped and her housing benefit cut. She was evicted because she owes the council about 5 months rent of £2,569 (this figure includes some court costs). She missed the court date due to a combination of depression, illiteracy and fear.
Help was in hand when her family offered to pay the full amount of rent owing but the council point blank refused the offer and said it was too late. On the day of the eviction Jane passed out with the stress and became another part of the tragic statistics for the amount of homeless families in Newham: almost 5,000 children are living in temporary accommodation. In the last two years alone, Newham has seen a 42 per cent increase in the amount of homeless familes, according to the figures analysed by Labour MP Dame Tessa Jowell and released from the Department for Communities and Local Government. This injustice has to stop.People need homes. The council should start to address these shocking statistics by giving Jane and her daughter their home back.
After all, the amount or rent that is due is not much more than the monthly rent of one of the new luxury apartments that are mushrooming all over Stratford.We are asking the council to accept Jane’s family’s offer to pay the rent, clear the debt and allow Jane and her 14 year old daughter back into their home so that normal family life can resume. Jane’s daughter needs to attend her local school where she is due to sit her GCSEs.
After 50 years since Ken Loach made the film Cathy Come Home, we are raising the issues of evictions and social cleansing in our community with the slogan Jane Come Home. Victory to Jane and all those who face the brutality of being ripped from their homes by council enforced bailiffs.
What you can do to help.
Contact Jane’s Labour MP Lyn Brown to ask her to put pressure on the council for Jane to Come Home.
Telephone Lyn Brown: 0208 470 3463 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Post: Lyn Brown, 306 High Street, Stratford, London, E15 1AJ
Share this story on Facebook and twitter. Tweet Newham Labour Council @newhamlondon
Tweet the local councillor Terry Paul @terrympaul
Come to the next street stall on Saturday April 18th, on the Broadway outside Wilkos from 12pm-2pm in Stratford and then our open campaign meeting afterwards at the Carpenters Arms pub.
12 April 2015: Call out for antieviction support for Leeds Community Project (LCP) LCP has occupied experimental gardens owned by Leeds University and due to be sold for private investment and housing RESISTANCE IS FERTILE Background The former University of Leeds research site at Grosvenor Mount is a unique space containing seven glasshouses. The site holds many future possibilities for sustainable food growing and can be envisioned as a space for education and social events, as well as a space for nature and wildlife. The site was closed in 2011. Since then, attempts to communicate with Leeds University to prevent the sale for private investment and to open the space for community benefit have not been listened to. For this reason, two months ago the site was occupied by LCP, which has been maintaining it since and putting it to many very valuable uses engaging members of the wider community by holding arts events, workshops, exhibitions, acoustic concerts, meetings, and preparing some of the greenhouses for food growing. LCP believes that In a city that had a recorded 4,747 longterm empty homes in 2014, more private housing is not what Leeds needs The University should not be guided simply by profit! This unique site is planned to be sold for only £600,000 a minor percentage of the University’s annual revenue – instead of being used for the benefit of communities within Leeds Leed’s communities and interested groups should be consulted on the future of the site to ensure that it is used in a way which serves the interests of the wider community We believe LCP fits in with many struggles across the UK, including: Struggles that campaign for access to land, more community spaces and support sustainability (such as Reclaim the fields and Grow Heathrow) Student protests campaigning for more democratic universities The Occupy movement What you can do 1. Get to the site on the 12th April at midday for our Solidarity Sunday event. We will be holding a day of talks, workshops, and arts as well as making resistance plans for 13th April at 13.00 (the time and date scheduled for eviction). Info here: http://leedscp.noblogs.org/files/2015/04/poster.jpg 2. Contribute something that is on our wish list: Cameras/recording devices Food donations for the day Hammocks Legal Observers People! 3. Spread the word about Leeds Community Project! Encourage your friends & comrades to visit our social media and post/tweet statements of support: Website: www.leedscp.noblogs.org Facebook: Leeds CP Twitter: @Leedscp (hashtag #LCPlive for the day of the eviction) 5. Sign the petition at: https://www.change.org/p/theuniversityofleeds6grosvenormountforthecommunity?source_location=petition_footer&algorithm=promoted Information for people coming If you cannot make it to the Sunday event but would still like to come down, please contact the site phone (07951355293) and we can make arrangements Bring sensible clothes, sleeping stuff and tents If you need financial support to be able to visit please email email@example.com we really appreciate all visitors & will do our best to cover your costs if needed or think about other alternatives to get you to the site We value anyone who is wanting to show solidarity. We work via consensus as a group and we plan to organise collectively this way on the day of eviction
Since the March for Homes at the end of January, parts of the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark have been occupied against the destruction of the estate and attenpts to gentrify the area.
There has been a violent eviction on the first block squatted but the occupation has rolled on and continues, currently based at 69 – 76 Chartridge, Westmoreland Road, SE17 2BZ
For more info, and to let them speak for themselves check out https://fightfortheaylesbury.wordpress.com/
Since the High Court Enforcement Officers have been given more of the eviction work, there’s been an increase in dodgy evictions, including evictions, without notice, of new sets of squatters, using old possession orders.
They make out that it’s the same or connected people and get a “warrant” or “writ of restitution”.
As there is no notice there is no opportunity to set aside the eviction writ on the basis that at a writ of restitution is not appropriate. But some clever squatters, when told by security that they would be out the next day, put a stop to this by putting in an application to stop any application without notice.
The relevant wording of the order goes:
It is ordered that:
1. XXXXX be joined as Defendant in proceedings.
2. Any application made by the Claimant in the said proceedings within the next 21 days is to be made on notice in writing to XXXXXXX and with no less than 48 hours notice of this application. ……
An application costs money, unless someone is on benefits or can prove no or practically no income, but if you’ve reason to think you’re under threat it could be worth it. Get in touch.
Another four people have been found “Not Guilty” of the criminal offence introduced in September 2012. They were arrested at a building in Scrutton Street in March. After over six months on bail, their trial took place at Stratford in October.
When the police arrived, the squatters pointed out the “To Let: Commercial” sign outside, and explained that the building had previously been used as offices, and was not a residential building. Despite this, the police forced entry and arrested all four people inside the building. One of them didn’t even live there, and had only come to visit the occupants. They were all taken to the cop shop, and the squat was lost.
The owner had produced a copy of a council tax bill for the top two floors of the building, and this was the main evidence relied on by the Crown Prosecution Service to go ahead with S144 charges against all four.
During the trial, it became clear that the owner had switched to paying a mixture of business rates and (domestic) council tax for the building, rather than continuing to pay business rates for the entire property. Saving themselves a considerable amount of money by tax-dodging. However it also became clear that nobody from the council had ever visited the premises or checked if this was appropriate.
The District Judge heard that the rooms resembled offices, with power and data points in the floor, no curtain rails, no central heating system, no kitchen facilities and no bathroom or shower. The only sink and toilet were in the basement and there was in fact no running water to the top two floors, making a mockery of the suggestion that anybody had lived there in the past. The entire building was open-plan, with no separation between the different parts, no separate entrance, bell or mail-box. The owners said that they had applied for planning consent to convert the top floors to residential use, but no conversion work had taken place.
For a S144 conviction, the building must have been designed or adapted for residential use before the trespass, and this was obviously not the case here. In the face of this evidence, the judge was forced to disagree with the CPS, and find the defendants innocent of any crime.
Let’s hope that they go on to sue the Metropolitan Police for wrongful arrest etc, and receive some financial compensation for losing their home and their liberty in this way.
The Focus E15 Mothers Occupation of Residential Property on Carpenters Estate Ended on the 6th October.
The campaign has done an excellent job of exposing Newham Council’s hypocrisy in saying that there is no housing for them in Newham, by occupying a block of four flats on an estate that has 600 empty properties. Now, having achieved their aims perfectly, the occupation has come to a peaceful end and the flats have been returned to the council, two of them in a far better condition than they were.
The support for their protest has been enormous and universal (with the obvious exception of Sir Robin Wales – Mayor of Newham) and the media coverage has been excellent, reaching millions worldwide through many newspapers, TV channels, magazines and the like.
More information from them is available at:
Please support them in any way you can.
With a truly grass roots movement achieving yet another victory over section 144 of LASPO 2012 (the residential anti-squatting law), and the housing crisis worsening, more and more people may be considering something along these lines in their area. ASS would of course be happy to give legal and practical advice and support.
In the words of Sam and Jasmin – This is the beginning of the end of the housing crisis.
Thuli Ndlovu, the Abahlali baseMjondolo Chairperson in KwaNdengezi, was Assassinated on Monday 29th September.
The local councillor, who the community have been in struggle with since 2010, had often threatened Thuli, and was seen the area earlier that day.
Attacks on land occupations and on the movement in general have intensified recently with a number of attacks, often lead by the ANC.
Abahlali baseMjondolo say “We are facing a war. The struggle for land and dignity continues.”
for more details see http://abahlali.org/node/14311/
At the 1st birthday party on Sunday 21st September, Focus E15 Mothers occupied a small block on the Carpenters Estate, empty since about 2011, as a protest and social centre for a week.
SOCIAL HOUSING, NOT SOCIAL CLEANSING
Nobody is living on the property so people are needed to fill the rota for 12 hours at a time. Call 07933 845 685 to offer help or find out more.
Various meetings and events will be happening, including comedy from Josie Long on Wednesday 24th September at 6pm
THESE PEOPLE NEED HOMES – THESE HOMES NEED PEOPLE
Comment piece in the Grauniad at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/23/real-politics-empty-london-housing-estate
Although the main defence of the occupiers was going to be that they were occupying the building in protests against its sell-off by Camden Council, had a rota for staying there and had other addresses where they were living (plus other arguments), what got the case thrown out was that the property had been sold the day before and so there was no allegation of trespass.
So, let’s keep fighting.