Author Archives: cc

The Evening Standard is Lying to London

Last Wednesday, activists from the Squash campaign inserted 8000 leaflets into the Evening Standard, in an attempt to redress the deliberate misinformation being pumped out by this media mischief-maker.

Now we’re urging you to do the same.

Squatting law causes more problems than it prevents

Vyvian Raoul says squatting law causes more problems than it prevents, in a guest post for the New Interntaionalist blog. Our report – The Case Against Section 144 – shows that not a single, solitary squatter arrested under the new law was found to be displacing a homeowner…

Waste of Space at the 491

Many empty and wasted buildings have been turned into vibrant, open and useful spaces over the years – but the clamour for criminalisation of squatting in commercial properties has already begun.

Waste of Space may be one of the last opportunities for the public to experience arts at 491 – one last chance to visit this vibrant place

Richard Madeley Reaction # 2

In his failure to look beyond the uninformed words of the association mouth-piece, Madeley replicated the mistakes which led to this damning law coming about. “The current law is sufficient to protect homeowners, but is not understood by the public, the police, nor, it seems, politicians” stated the Law Society in consultation.

We take a closer look at what Richard got wrong…

Richard Madeley Reaction #1

Pete the Temp takes us through the experience of sharing his space with Serious Journalist Richard Madeley.

SQUASH NewsRound: November 2012

The News Round comes out every fortnight, keeping tabs on articles being posted in Main Stream Media (MSM) sources and independent channels about squatting, the new law (s.144) and possible new legislative attacks.For the Period: 1st to 20th November 2012. Contains the following stories: Mike Weatherley’s welcome to Sussex University, Al-Jazeera article on homelessness and squatting in Britain, various pieces defending the right to squat, MSM articles on squatting in commercial premises (eg Cross Keys Pub in Chelsea) and Siege of the Elephant conference.

Crisis Launches No Going Home campaign.

The homelessness charity Crisis launched it’s ‘No Going Home’ campaign this week, targeting government plans to scrap housing benefits for the under 25s. There are currently 385,000 people under 25 claiming housing benefit across the UK. Many of these people work, or are looking for work, others are sick or disabled and more than half are parents bringing up children – all of them depend on housing benefit to keep a roof over their head.

The media has squatted my brain

Pete the Temp explains that squatters probably won’t turn your home into an Amy Winehouse, suicide fetish, voodoo-cesspit – via the medium of a very good poetry vid…

SQUASH NewsRound: Mid-October 2012

The News Round comes out every fortnight, keeping tabs on articles being posted in Main Stream Media (MSM) sources and independent channels about squatting, the new law (s.144) and possible new legislative attacks.For the Period: 12 October -10 November 2012. Contains stories on the following: discussion in the MSM about extending criminalisation to commercial property, the squatted, the emerging housing crisis in B&B accommodation, rising rents and falling benefits, and the poor state of accommodation in the private rented sector, and communal living as housing solution.

Tell us your story: the Squash Campaign is collecting case studies

The Squash Campaign is collecting case studies of people impacted by the new law criminalising squatting. Many communities will be shattered by this new law. Some children will be impacted. People will be made homeless as they are forced to leave properties that will be left to rot. We are especially interested in stories of people who have been in their homes for years, in buildings that have been left empty. Are you or do you know any squatters who would be willing to share their stories with us?

Council pays £440,000 so security firm can exploit tenants

In the UK the homeless have traditionally been allowed to legally occupy long-term empty property. These rights were critical at key moments in history (such as after the WW2 when Britain experienced a housing crisis and squatting was rife). Squatters’ rights came to an end on March 27th when the government criminalised squatting in residential properties. The new law will come into effect in a matter of months…

Bristol Squattastic statement: Whatever they say…

Fight the anti-squatting bill! Assemble 1pm outside Metropolis, Stokes Croft. Saturday 14th April

Squatting criminalised by ‘sham democracy’

This calls for an organised response. As has been recognised by SQUASH: “This has always been a right-wing attack to defend and enhance private property rights over the human right to shelter and we now have to defend ourselves”. That defence does not play itself out in the upholstered arena of sham-democratic institutions such as the House of Lords. It happens on the streets, and in empty properties up and down the country…

New video: Cost of Criminalising Squatting

This video from Squash shows the cost of criminalising squatting, both human and financial. As the video says, the Lords still have a chance to stop criminalisation on Tuesday, when Clause 145 (formerly 136) is debated again. Do get in touch with them and let them know clause 145 is no way to handle a housing crisis; please share this video widely.

And those amendments in full…

These are the amendments we’re tabling in full, with explanations why we support them. They’re been tabled by a friendly peer and will be debated in the House of Lords next Tuesday 20 March. That will be a very important day: it could mean the criminalisation of squatting in residential buildings; it could mean a stay of execution for squatting. We’re doing everything we can to make sure it’s the latter, and we think these amendments will help…

The final push: what you need to know to save squatting

We’re now at the most critical stage of the campaign, our very last chance to stop the criminalisation of squatting. Next Tuesday 20 March, Clause 136 of the Legal-Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) bill will be debated and voted on in the House of Lords. If it’s passed it would sanction a £5000 fine or up to a year in prison for those squatting in residential buildings.

Find out what you need to know to help make sure that doesn’t happen…

Channel 4: Minister with no sympathy for homeless

“Whether it is a creative community looking for studio space, or homeless individuals desperate for a bed, squatting has long been part of Britain’s housing landscape. When the massive Huntley Street squat in Bloomsbury was evicted in 1978, protests were staged across the world in solidarity.

But all that could all change after next week. The House of Lords will vote on the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, clause 130 of which relates to the criminalisation of squatting.”

The report was featured on Channel 4′s news on Friday, and shows some positive aspects of squatting, like doing up a derelict property as shown in the video. It also questions how criminalising the homeless, at a time when their numbers are increasing, will help with a housing crisis.

Where it’s at: an update on the parliamentary process and our campaign to stop criminalisation…

As LASPO enters the House of Lords, the campaign to stop the criminalisation of squatting is entering its most critical phase.

This is a look back on LASPO’s progress through parliament, an update on where it’s at now and advice on what you can do to help make sure squatting doesn’t become a criminal act…

Squash on the radio

Dissident Island very kindly invited us onto the radio to talk about stopping the criminalisation of squatting. Not a bad little round up of where the campaign’s at, sandwiched between some super-dirty dubstep and Police and Thieves sounds…

Squatting law will only criminalise the homeless. Let’s demolish clause 136

When the Ministry of Justice consulted about squatting, 2,126 responses came from “members of the public concerned about the impact of criminalisation” and only 25 were from “members of the public concerned about the harm squatting can cause”. The people, as ever, are kinder than their government.

The timing could not be more vicious. The chronic shortage of social housing, the cuts and the economic depression create a perfect storm of a housing crisis. Homelessness is up 15% nationally in the last year, and rough sleeping in London is up 8%. Shapps has promised funding to resolve homelessness but this money is a drop in an ocean of chaos; it will be wiped out by cuts elsewhere…

Adding up the cost of privatisation…

Perhaps the council can’t see that squatters are uniquely positioned to be the missing link in the equation they can’t solve. Fixing up houses is second nature to long-term squatters, and many are used to living in conditions that would be unsuitable for families. The blight of long term empty homes can be a thing of the past if people that are prepared to refurbish homes for themselves are allowed to move in and get on with it. What makes the council blind to such a common sense solution?

If the government has their way this pro-active, hands-on approach to putting life back into empty homes will very soon become a crime. Maybe they can’t add up either…

Squatting, South American style…

This video from the New York Times shows the true face of squatting: people who have been let down – and, like the buildings they occupy, left to rot – by their government.

People taking matters into their own hands, people finding their own solutions.

It’s all in the timing…

Squatter season is officially open. Over the past fortnight, you may have noticed a ramping up of anti-squatting stories in newspaper reports and opinion columns.

This is no coincidence, in fact the timing is almost comical…

Nice one, Gorms…

Last week, the artist Anthony Gormley gave an impassioned defence of squatting, as reported in an article by Alex Needham for the Guardian. In it, Gormley tells us that he’s against the criminalisation of squatting because of what he thinks is the real crime: the housing crisis…

Nick Clegg’s lobbying group opposes criminalisation…

This law “is contrary to the interests of UK taxpayers.

“It would provide a valuable state funded benefit to wealthy tax avoiders.

“This influential lobby has the ear of Conservative Justice Minister Crispin Blunt.”

Could this be love?

Ok, ok, love for the Lords is a bit much, but could it be that our campaign of common sense and compassion is beginning to have an effect?

On Friday, the Evening Standard reported that Lib Dem peers are vowing to oppose plans to make squatting a criminal offence, by tabling an eminently sensible amendment.

Quick: dig a moat…

This week Chris Moncrieff wrote an article in the Daily Mail, in which he whipped up fear in the usual ways, offered not a single fact and shouted: the Moldovans are coming!

Chris’ article was entitled ‘It won’t be long before an Englishman’s home is someone else’s castle’, evoking the image of east Europeans overrunning the parapets, and reinforcing the siege mentality that readers of the Daily Mail seem to lap up…

George Monbiot says something eminently sensible about democracy…

Last year the government launched a consultation on criminalising all squatting in residential buildings; 96% of the respondents argued that no change in the law was necessary.

But on 1 November, just five days after the consultation ended, the government jemmied an amendment into the legal aid bill, already halfway towards approval.

This meant that the House of Commons had no chance to scrutinise it properly, and objectors had no chance to explain the issues to their MPs…

The Great British Property Scandal (C4)

Presenter George Clark finds an open window and climbs through to squat in the empty building for the night – not something you might expect to see in a Channel 4 documentary…

BBC goes squatting…

As the government plans to make squatting illegal in residential premises in England and Wales, former squatter Robert Elms considers the practice’s long history, and the issues it raises about the need for shelter versus the rights of property owners…

Time Out: Should Squatting be Made Illegal?

The media has been full of scare stories of people’s homes being stolen. These tales seek to deliberately misrepresent and mislead. It’s already illegal to squat in the home that someone lives in. This has absolutely nothing to do with protecting homeowners; it is about extending the protections to cover property speculators who keep houses empty simply to up their profits, and it will be open to abuse by landlords who want a fast means to evict precarious tenants…

Shift: the spatial politics of squatting in the UK…

This document addresses the following questions: Firstly, why bother at all? Why is it important that squatting isn’t criminalized? And secondly, why bother meeting the government on its own terms? Is engagement not contradictory when we’re aiming to build real alternatives to the current system?

NUS Student Activism 2011 Conference: why is squatting relevant to students?

On Saturday Squash will be representing at the NUS Student Activism 2011 conference, at Goldsmiths. Come down and say hello. We’ll be giving a talk at 2pm entitled ‘Trespass! Why criminalizing squatting could affect students…?’ Here’s why we think students should be concerned about the government’s plan’s to criminalise trespass…

Your gauntlet, Mr. Weatherley?

“What really gets my goat is when Weatherley says “show me a squat which has been made better by the squatters” on his website or, most recently, on the BBC Politics Show. Mike said he was laying down the gauntlet to squatter groups: here is one response…”

This pernicious choreography hints at a more sinister logic…

This pernicious choreography – from summer consultation to rushed last-minute amendment – also hints at a more sinister logic. On Tuesday morning, the housing minister, Grant Shapps, tweeted the following: “St Paul’s: Right to protest NOT a right to squat. Looking at law to see if change needed to deal w/ camps like St Paul’s & Dale Farm faster.” Shapps’ casual and lazy equation of protest and collective assembly with the rich and varied history of squatting reveals, it seems to me, the ultimate target of the government’s legal revanchism…

Event: Student solidarity with squatters – 02/11/11

Student solidarity with squatters, in the face of Conservative plans to outlaw occupations…

Labour to back government in support of homeowners despite concerns

Labour will support government moves to outlaw squatting despite concerns that changes to trespass laws could leave thousands of homeless people facing year-long prison sentences and fines of up to £5,000, the Guardian has learned. Sources working for the shadow justice minister said they did not think there was any possibility that the new law would affect sit-ins and occupation protests as previously feared, and they would support the change to show their support for homeowners. Under the government’s new proposals, rushed into the legal aid, sentencing and punishment of offenders bill, it will become a crime to squat in any residential […]

Take a look in at Squatters Town…

Even the briefest reading of history is enough to dismiss the idea that squatting is either a modern phenomenon or a hangover from the 60s and 70s; squatting has always existed as a solution wherever there are people without any other option for decent housing. This newsreel from 1946 is a beautiful example of both how squatting can work and how far the debate has declined…

Inside Housing article: ‘There’s no such thing as squatter’s rights…’

Over on Inside Housing Simon Brandon looks at the Government’s announcement to ‘slam the door on squatting and so-called squatters’ rights‘, and questions what Ministers hope to acheive by criminalising an estimated 20,000 people in the midst of a housing crisis and with local services already stretched to breaking point. Repeat it over and over, like Dorothy declaring ‘there’s no place like home’: ‘There’s no such thing as squatters rights’