SQUASH NewsRound: November 2012

The NewsRound will be a fortnightly event, keeping tabs on articles being posted in MainStream Media (MSM) sources, as well as independent channels (eg IMC, SchNEWS) about squatting, the new law (s.144) and possible new legislation (eg commercial). If you spot any articles of interest, please let us know by emailing: info@squashcampaign.org.

For the Period: 1st to 20th November 2012

Weatherley “welcomed” to Sussex University [14th Nov 12]  

Banner reading Squatter Network of BrightonMike Weatherley, corrupt Brighton MP and father of s.144 LASPO, was given an unexpected welcome when he came to give a speech at Sussex University about squatting. Ambushed by a large crowd of young people before he could make it to the lecture hall, he and his cohort were chased off the campus, escorted by police and security. The poor little Tory who has criminalised a generation of homeless people said: “The squatters have regularly attempted to stop free speech from taking place for the precise reason that they cannot justify their criminal behavior.” (hahahaha….rich). Mainstream media claim missiles (not the ones currently being used in Gaza) were thrown, proper reports say eggs and tomatoes.

Some reports here:

‘Mad Mike’ Gets His Comeuppance” [SNOB(AHA)…respect] – some good additional links here too: “Egged On” [Schnews] “Conservative MP “attacked with rocks and tomatoes” before squatting talk” [spineless Guardian]

 Squat the Lot!

Anarchists holding banner that reads No Housing No Peace British ban squatting to tackle ‘anarchists’[Al Jazeera, 12th Nov]

A fairly comprehensive piece by Al Jazeera (certainly more than any of the toadying British press) about homelessness in Britain, the new squatting law and how it is affecting people, as well as mentions of positive squatting stories (Grow Heathrow, Friern Barnet library). Has interviews with Weatherley at his most Goebbels-esque, our very own Joseph and Catherine, and Eviction Resistance (including a mention for Keith “Happiness” Robin…RIP).

Squatting Law Matters” [Occupied Times, 9th Nov] Great article from the people that brought us St Paul’s; the article assesses the impact the new law has had on squats, some of the solidarity actions with people losing their homes, the importance of squats in the urban environment and an interview with our very own Catherine Brogan. Thanks Fin.

Squatting is not just about occupying homes, it’s about preserving history” [Ally Fogg, 15th Nov] A really good piece about how squatting has helped saved a number of historical buildings from being forgotten by bringing them back into use and to the attention of the general public (much like the Cross Keys pub of late). Fogg retells the story of how squatting revived the Pugin’s Gorton Monastery in Manchester, against a background of razing anything old to the ground to make way for yuppie flats.

Why Criminalising Squatting in Commercial Buildings Will Affect Us All‘ Pete the Temp’s blog on examines squatting with regard of the need for shelter, civil society and richer cultural activity; nice one Pete.

Commercial, Commercial, Commercial

Picture of the Cross Keys pub in SohoSo the mainstream press (along with their right-wing political counterparts, like Weatherley) have started to build up a new hysteria about squatting in commercial premises. Just about every solicitor, property agent, landlord buddy, journalist, etc is jumping on the bandwagon to offer advice (no doubt at a nice little hourly fee), get an interview (lamenting how terrible squatters are) or waffle on authoritatively about very little. Here’s a taster: “Recent law makes squatting a criminal offence – but does it have teeth?” [Howes Percival Solicitors]: yawn!

Changes to Changes to squatting laws should be extended to commercial property, expert says” [Out-law.com, 7th Nov]: Yes, the expert is from the law firm behind the website; quote to note is from Justice Minister Damian Green who says that the new offence covered squatting in residential buildings because “that is what the public were most concerned about” (Ummm…no; that’s what the media hysteria made people concerned about; consultation was 96% in favour of not changing the law). Worth noting that the government’s official statement at the moment is they will only be monitoring the situation, and not pushing ahead to criminalise commercial.

Squatters take a commercial break” [Torygraph, 6th Nov] Mr Wallop (of the silver spoon) bumbles on about how squatters are starting to squat more commercial premises (duh!), focusing on the Cross Keys pub (Chelsea), mentioning “one man” who is serving time for squatting (his name is Alex Haigh, a 21 year old builder) and harps on about the end of “squatters rights” (there has never been any such thing; section 6 was to protect tenants from dodgy landlords). While not blatantly anti-squatting, it’s an opening salvo for a renewed assault on squatting.

Housing for All

There are numerous campaigns going on at the moment around housing, as unscrupulous landlords (private and public) and the tax-evading wealthy take full advantage of the generous Tory hand-outs and curtailing of tenant rights. Join the debate, see you on the streets.

The Siege of the Elephant”: One day conference on Saturday 17th November 2012 in Elephant and Castle, London looking at gentrification, regeneration and how communities can resist them. Attended by a good number of community groups and activists, with first-hand stories of manipulation by the council, property developers and other fat cats. Keep an eye out for their conference meeting notes and a workshop in January next year; well done peeps, a really nice day.

Check out the Fakebook Page for “Protect Our Homes”, which has a great little picture and a meaty ethos.

CURO Housing renting its homes as holiday lets to wealthy tourists” [IMC UK, 7th Nov] As with many housing associations and “charities”, CURO of Bath is turfing out long-term tenants to turn their homes (or housing stock) into holiday flats for wealthy visitors. Let’s get cracking…..

MEGACITY LONDON – ever growing, ever more unequal”: The Sheila McKechnie Foundation (SMK) is holding a special networking event in London on Tuesday 15th January from 4.30 – 6.30pm, aimed at campaigners, lobbyists, policymakers and strategists alike who are trying to tackle poverty and inequality in the capital. A talk packed full of facts, figures and analysis by leading academics Professor Danny Dorling and Dr Ben Hennig, which will be followed by an opportunity to meet and network with others over a glass of wine.”

Check out Crisis’ “No Going Home” Campaign, which seeks to protect housing benefit for under 25’s, as more and more young people are made homeless by bigoted old men.