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The free weekly direct action newsheet published in Brighton since 1994 - Copyleft - Information for Action

Building Resistance

organising opposition to new anti-squat law

The date the new anti-squatting law comes into force in English and Welsh law has been set for September 1st. The Advisory Service for Squatters (ASS) have issued a warning and a call to arms: “We are going to need to be more organised and look after each other better. We will need legal back-up available on the street, and people will need help moving quickly and storing their possessions. We need networks, linked up with others resisting evictions and attacks on housing rights.

The Eviction Resistance Network (ER) have emerged to counter to the new law and new enforcement techniques. They have already mobilised big numbers to resist several evictions, and their phoneline is open 24/7.

As SQUASH and ASS are attempting to demystify the new law in terms of who'll be affected, and how best to protect yourself (see the links below), there have been signs that the police might be trying to evict people already in situ in long-term squats come the law change. ER have reported that sections of the new law have been posted on the doors of residential squats in East London by over-eager cops. Whether this is a pre-emptive eviction notice, or just plain intimidation, is hard to tell. New laws are not legally supposed to be applied retrospectively.

As SchNEWS has previously reported, illegal evictions have been occurring in Brighton as property owners and authorities get ahead of themselves. Similar events are reportedly happening in Bristol, where residential squats are being thrown out before the law change, along with non-residential property- such as the former building society premises that was illegally attacked by Avon and Somerset police on August 15th.

Gung-ho policing means that the legal stuff is worth getting to grips with, as you'll need the info on why your place is legal to shout at incoming police. The ambiguity of the law (e.g. residential squatting is illegal, non-residential legal) suggests that application of the law will be muddled, and cops are easily confused. Also worthwhile reading is the Code of Practice of High Court Enforcement Officers, which, amongst other stipulations, states they must act in a “professional, calm and dignified manner... with discretion and fairness” and not allow debtors to threaten violence.

Squatters rights activists are gearing up in other ways. ASS are holding a meeting on Monday 27th of August. Squattastic are also getting together around the second week of September (date TBC) to discuss and organise. Brighton locals SNOB have called for an action to take place at 2pm, October 13th at Victoria Square Gardens, Brighton.

Solidarity is the name of the game.

There's also around 420,000 empty commercial properties in the country. Make of that what you will.

HOME SWEAT HOME

The squatting law is only the start of it. This summer we've also witnessed exposes on dodgy landlords and 'beds in sheds', rapidly increasing rents, government plans to lift rules on affordable housing in new build developments - while 1.8 million families wallow on affordable housing waiting lists, housing benefit caps forcing low-income workers out their homes, Olympic gentrification of London boroughs, a 25% per cent increase in homelessness ...

This year has seen the quagmire of the housing crisis cruelly exacerbated by Tory 'screw the poor' thinking from all directions. Not surprising from ministers more concerned with the profits of their development and financier chums than kids in cramped and mouldy high rises– property firms donated a total of over £3.3 million to the Conservatives in the three years leading up to last autumn.

However the gravity of the situation has led to a boom in grassroots organising against evictions and wider housing rights issues from those within the rental sector. Active groups around the country are fighting for better housing and tenancy rights with mutual aid, addressing individual and community struggles against the backdrop of the need for radical change in the housing market. Together, they could constitute the embryo of a wider grassroots housing rights movement that the country sorely needs.

New group Housingforthe99 have the stated aim of campaigning against rip-off rents and for secure and affordable tenancies. After demonstrating against the Olympics' bogus claims that affordable housing would be one of the Games' legacies, the group also targeted the National Landlords Association- who represent over a million landlords, lobbying against regulation and advocating insecure tenancies. A Solfed action at the end of July saw dodgy letting agents Victorstone forced to reimburse three renters from Bethnal Green over £1200 that they'd tried to steal even though the deal, and the house, fell through. Local groups include Haringey Solidarity Group, Hackney Housing Group and Bristol Housing Action Movement.

 

Advice for squats vs. the new law:

ASS homepage: http://www.squatter.org.uk/

Eviction Resistance: http://evictionresistance.blogspot.co.uk/

 

For an in-depth overview of the housing crisis, see this offering by the anarcho-academics at Corporate Watch

http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=4178

 

 

There are 6 comments on this story...
Added By: Zen Master Arnie Terminator - 31st August 2012 @ 8:11 AM
31/8/12

This squatting agreement is due to connecting up power to a squat, as I said previously here. Entire streets of squats had power restored and then sold or placed on sale, normally without ownership deed documents.
Living at a squat with no heating, lighting, hot food nor hot water is fab and lots of fun.

Come To Butthead
Added By: Anonymous - 31st August 2012 @ 9:50 AM
The government instructions on this law, suggest that it IS going to be applied retrospectively (some loophole that because "continuing to trespass" is an offence then doing so after the law comes into force is an offence even if breaking the squat wasn't). Like a lot of this, whether it holds up in court is yet to be seen.

In Holland, a similar law was restricted by the courts so that a court hearing was still needed before eviction, due to ECHR provisions.

In general though, squatting will probably need to be more militant from now on - counting on physical defence or rapid escape instead of legal delays.
Added By: Joginder Singh - 1st September 2012 @ 10:35 AM
After The squatters whos next on the governments list I wonder The Anti War?, The envioromentaslists? The anti-Globalists? The Pro Human rights? The Anti comsumerists? etc etc etc. And given the hassle The Critical mass cyclists have been attracting from plod during the olympics with this nasty tory government and its usefull idiots the libdems things are gonna get worse for all of us who want a better society than that being offered by callmedave and his bankster and fatcat chums and paymasters in the city and dsocklands
Added By: Carnybull - 2nd September 2012 @ 5:24 PM
S.144 offends the principle against retrospective criminal offences for existing squatters. There is one judicial review scheduled already via Leigh Day & Co.

The new legislation turns police into bailiffs. The old protection under s.6 CLA will not apply. Police can enter under s.17 PACE and arrest on suspicion of a s.144 offence. Once in police custody there is a good chance the property will be boarded up and the police will use this as an excuse to deny bail on the basis of no fixed address when they have caused your homelessness in the first place! The same argument will be used by the CPS in the Magistrates' Court and people will end up remanded until a trial takes place without the previous protection offered by the civil courts.
Added By: Anarchiste. - 2nd September 2012 @ 7:50 PM
Invoke your ancestors, common law and the Magna Carta. A history lesson is in order.
Added By: Threatened - 3rd September 2012 @ 11:22 PM
if the lib-CUNTs really want to push their luck i suggest that ALL squatters send at east two or three reps from their home to march on parliament and show them just how much stress they'll be putting on the penal system in this country, where other criminals, be they career or circumstantial, are being released years early on a daily basis just to make room for more.

its time to take back whats ours. the land we call home and the assets that great britain, PLC. is stripping to sell to corporations while the traitorous scum line their pockets off our misery
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