SQUASH NewsRound: December 2013 – January 2014

Update from the Networks

Advisory Service for Squatters (ASS): ASS are currently pursuing a judicial review after a squatter who had been living in an unclaimed property for 12 years tried to apply to the Land Registry for possession. Due to LASPO s144, which retrospectively criminalises squatting in residential premises, the Land Registry threw the case out without even hearing it, and legal bods will be taking this to the High Court to show that s144 is incompatible with Human Rights. ASS are looking for raising funds to take the case forward, so please donate on the ASS website.

Squatters Legal Network (SLN): the SLN phone-line is currently getting lots of calls from people in desperate housing situations who are not squatting, but have nowhere else to turn. SLN is asking people to contact them with details of local housing services or advice centres that they can refer people to. SLN is developing a spotter card system, to help identify dodgy bailiffs and those doing illegal evictions; check the SLN website for more info.

Eviction Resistance (ER): ER have been getting busier and busier as the more tenants and squatters are getting evicted, many of them illegally. Resisting an eviction can be an effective means of keeping a roof over your head, so consider it and contact ER if you want any advice or assistance. “Poverty porn” television show, “The Sherriffs Are Coming” [Season 3, Episode 6] (no longer on iPlayer but can be seen on YouTube) recently showed the eviction of a squatted building which is owned by a dodgy charity. Not only did the High Court Bailiffs evict the building illegally – there was a “license to occupy” in place -, but the show’s producers promised one squatter – a teacher – that they would hide his face if he did an interview for them; he did the interview but when the episode was aired, his face was not hidden, leaving him fearing for his job. The show later withdrew the footage after legal action was threatened. We strongly encourage others to take care with journos, and contact the BBC producers to let them know that this is out of order. ER report that illegal evictions are on the rise, police and bailiffs acting outside of their legal remit, even brazenly showing off on television. Your help to stop this is required as always.

SQUASH: SQUASH has been keeping an eye on potential legislation that will extend criminalising squatting in commercial premises. Even though a few Labour MPs, along with the Evening Standard, have tried to force the issue of late, there seems to be little traction. Any new legislation under the Coalition government will need to be put to Parliament before March 2014, and Parliamentary insiders have promised to let SQUASH know if anything looks to be tabled in this window.

#lovesquatting: #lovesquatting is currently organising some big events for 2014, both as a means to raise money for squatting groups and raise the profile of squatting as a positive social and cultural phenomena . The first big event is set to fall around Valentines Day (mid-Feb) at a squat in North London, and promises to be an exciting mix of music, skating, live art and info stalls. More info coming soon….

The Iceland Skip 3: Three young men have been arrested for “vagrancy” (made a crime during the period of the enclosures in England) for skipping (ie taking waste food out of a bin to eat) at an Iceland store. Skipping is now common in these difficult times and helps save tonnes of perfectly edible food from ending up in landfill, and these arrests set a bad precedent for those who depend on it to eat. Although the three youngsters don’t want any attention at the court, some squat groups have called for solidarity actions to highlight this massive injustice (eg picket an Iceland store, banner drops, etc)

The Three Labour Traitors Getting the Weatherley Treatment
The Three Labour Liars (Jowell, Peck and Umunna) have been getting their come-uppance recently, after trying to get squatting criminalisation extended to commercial property. Lib Peck recently went on “Leaders Question Time” in Lambeth, only to come under fire from squatting and local housing co-operative campaigners, who (tried) to ask questions and held up banners during her appearance (here’s a taster of some of the attention lovely Libs been getting: “Save Squatting Protest at Leader’s Question Time Streatham” [occupynewsnetwork]). Now it looks like Tessa Jowell MP, squat-hater and financial fraudster, may be next in getting some attention from squatting campaigners.

195 Mare Street Evicted:
The Mare Street Social Centre was evicted in December 2013, and the building has been returned to a state of rotting. Here is a summary of the court case and background info on IMC UK. The collective have gone on to open another squatted social centre round the corner on Wells Street, with more info here.

Global Squatting Solidarity

Brazil and the World Cup 2014

Squat.net have done an excellent piece on the use of extreme police violence in Brazil to displace large numbers of poor people in order to make way for property speculators ahead of the World Cup in June. While a small handful will be making untold millions from FIFA’s World Cup 2014©, the majority of people in Brazil are suffering as scarce resources for education, health and housing are being squandered on stadiums and new luxury apartments. Corruption permeates the whole event, and now great numbers of those living in the favelas are being violently evicted – shot, arrested and beaten – for the sake of a month of football. Spread the word and boycott the FIFA World Cup. Article can be found here:
“Brazil: FIFA Forces Evictions For World Cup, Police Brutality Rages” [squat.net, 11 January 2014]


MIPIM 2014

There is now a European-wide call-out to put a stop to one of the biggest property fairs in the world, MIPIM 2014 from 11th – 14th March, which will see property developers, infrastructure companies, financiers and local councils getting together to sell off huge swathes of public land for profit, and intensify the on-going social cleansing of Europe’s cities. Check these out for more info:
Radical Housing Network: http://radicalhousingnetwork.org/

SQUASH: http://www.squashcampaign.org/2014/01/stop-mipim-2014-and-the-great-sell-off/

Calais Squat Callout

There has been a call-out to support the opening and holding of squats in Calais, to support migrants without basic facilities and to resist the illegal evictions by the police that are becoming a regular occurance. A day of action in Calais has been called for the 23rd February, and anticipates a rolling occupation of the city.

Background info on Calais on squat.net: http://en.squat.net/tag/calais/

Calais Migrant Solidarity Campaign: http://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/category/news/english/