easter or whatever

Just to say we probably won’t be open on Friday 3rd and Monday 6th April, but someone will probably check the email and answerphone.

Legal advice on criminal matters will be happening as usual downstairs in the bookshop Friday 3-6 and Saturday 12-6

But you won’t need that

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Fight for the Aylesbury (and all social housing)

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/

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Stopping (some) dodgy evictions

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.

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Open for business as usual (again)

So overwhelmed were we with our phone and broadband back in action that we completely forgot to update the website! So… the office once again running as usual (best ring before visiting), phone line buzzing with activity with a diligent volunteer always ready to pick up and emails answered without faf.

Kick ASS and thanks, but no thanks to BT.

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Festive period opening

Sorry, our phones are not working, and BT are not responding to our complaints.

We will not be opening regularly during the festive period but people will pop in to check out the email and any messgaes left by other means.

Freedom bookshop, downstairs,  will be back to normal opening from Friday 2nd January. Until then email would be the best means of communication.

And, yes, we would love to get copies of the court papers for 2a Charing Cross Road in time, and statements about the illegal eviction so we can do something about it.

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Four more S144 Defendants Walk Free!

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.

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“the beginning of the end of the housing crisis.”

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:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Focus-E15-Mothers/602860129757343
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.

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Another Shackdweller community leader assasinated in South Africa

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.”

Squatter Solidarity

for more details see http://abahlali.org/node/14311/

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E15 Open House Occupation

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

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Protest occupiers get off S144 charges

p10200532 people charged under Section 144 LASPO had the case thrown out by District Judge Williams at Highbury Magistrates Court on Tuesday 26th August.

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.

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