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On Wednesday 21st December Brighton squatters fought off an eviction attempt carried out under orders from the Green led council.
The Group have been occupying a former nursing home for three weeks and were served a possession order in Brighton County Court on Monday 19th. The possession order was granted forthwith so a representative of the squatters asked both the Judge and the Council if the eviction could be delayed until after Christmas. Not only was this denied but they were told they would be out within 48hrs, much quicker than most evictions in Brighton, especially given time of year.
The Council then applied for, and got, a High Court Writ giving bailiffs the power to forcibly evict the squatters. On Wednesday the heavies arrived at the ungodly hour of 8am, but fortunately, following their dramatically unsuccessful day in court, the squatters were ready for them. The metal Sitex sheets had been replaced on all the ground floor doors & windows, and barricades had been hastily prepared. Some occupants had been on guard all night and the alarm was raised as the bailiffs waddled down the path.
The occupiers were told they either leave straight away with some of their stuff or they would be forcibly evicted and loose all their possessions. Given that they had nowhere to go, the decision to call their bluff was very quickly agreed.
Bailiffs brought up an angle grinder under a hail of crockery from first floor windows. They set about cutting through the metal Sitex door but before they could get very far a well aimed fire extinguisher dampened both their spirits and their generator. They then retreated back down the garden path and called the police.
Though a van and three car loads of coppers arrived they didn't fancy their chances of running the plate gauntlet and the eviction attempt was called off. By the time the crockery had settled the building had been held for both Christmas and New Year without further eviction attempts, breathing space that most occupants used to crack new accommodation.
The council clearly pushed eviction proceedings through – High Court Writs are rare and bailiffs were more than likely booked before the court date. Local paper, The Anus, have knocked out several poorly written biased pieces of drivel (stay off our turf) about the squatters since they moved in at the end of November. The building had been empty for two years but plans for the first council housing in 30 years were put forward by the previous Tory council. While planning permission was allegedly granted in April no work has been done and no contractor has even submitted a cost breakdown.
The Greens won control of the council in May and as a result everyone's now blaming each other for the lack of progress – even SchNEWS favourite Mike Weatherley found time to call the Greens “out of depth... Marxists”. One group everyone seems happy to attack are the squatters. Quite how they can be responsible for 3 decades of no new social housing or consecutive council administrations leaving buildings to rot is anyone's guess, and their presence can hardly be stopping building work since no-one's even confirmed to undertake it. The simple reason the squatters have been targeted is because they inadvertently highlighted the council's inaction around housing.
While power may still be a novelty to the Greens they have wasted little time in learning to lie like the rest of them saying that the council “tried hard to enter into a dialogue with the squatters [but they] refused to engage with our attempts to offer them housing advice and support.” In reality all attempts by the squatters to talk to the council were ignored or turned down.
The Greens appear to be in a hurry to shed any semblance of principles as they continue to refuse funding to homeless organisation that offer help to people who don't have a local connection – effectively cutting most homeless people off in the hope they'll move somewhere else. This policy has now forced St. Patrick's Night Shelter (the last shelter not to apply the criteria) to close down.
While the green rhetoric may still be nice and fluffy the reality is very different. The clear message they are sending to the homeless is “piss off your not welcome here”.
NEW YEAR SAME SHIT
On Wednesday 11th January the first Brighton squat eviction of 2012 was played out in front of crowds of onlookers on a busy St. James Street.
Known colloquially as 'Dark Side' (due to lack of electricity in it's early days) people had been occupying the building for a few months. In tactics similar to Ainsworth House, once the possession order was granted high court powers were sought without even attempting a standard eviction. Unlike Ainsworth however, the gap between the court case and enforcement was much longer..
Bailiffs and locksmiths arrived in the morning and attempted to gain access through a fairly well barricaded rear door. Having failed to make much more than a small gouge with a circular saw they tried brute force instead and, after half an hour of crowbarring and kicking, they successful ripped apart the door as police watched on. While doing this the locksmiths had parked in a disabled bay, a traffic warden intended to give the van a ticket but unfortunately the brave boys in blue intervened and talked him out of it (how's that for impartiality?).
By the time bailiffs had decided it was safe to enter all the occupants had fled to the 'Light Side' – the squat right next door which wasn't under threat of eviction. So, about 20 cops and bailiffs had spent the morning moving people about 5 metres.
Events in Brighton seem to reflect the bigger picture nationally, with many squats (including several Occupy forays into bricks and mortar occupations) on the receiving end of zero tolerance policing. The authorities are clearly practising for the forthcoming criminalisation of squatting. Squatters are gonna need help over the coming months more than ever, with this in mind the Squatters' Legal Network has been set-up and are currently appealing for more people to get involved.
Squatted community social centre and veg shop opens in Lewes.
UPDATE: They finally coughed up. After two days of consistent hassling by activists at the Department for Transport earlier last month, during which one person got nicked, the DfT sheepishly released the previously top secret (read: problematic and embarrassing) documents about the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road.
New Squat Law Fails In Court
Anti-cull travellers and squatters plot land seizures.
New squatting law forces homeless to sleep in the cold with lethal consequences.
Since October, Europe's longest, largest 'Postcapitalist land occupation', la ZAD (Zone A Defendre) has been under attack from French authorities who want to clear it and build an airport. Here's another update from 'le frontline'...
German anti-fascists take Berlin on 20th anniversary of comrade Silvio Meier's murder.
UPDATE: The sh*t's well and truly hit the fan since we published this interview last week... Stay tuned for more SchNEWS from the front...