Sweets Way update

From Radical Housing Network

On the 23rd of September, the eviction process of the Sweets Way Estate began. By the afternoon of the 24th the eviction was complete, all squatters and Mostafa, the last remaining tenant, were removed from the site.

During the event a total of 19 people were arrested. The majority of these took place on Thursday the 24th, when many squatters and other activists climbed to the roof of some of the houses near Mostafa’s in defiance of the eviction attempt by the National Eviction Team, The Sheriff’s Office, and Dorman & Co., all High Court Enforcement agencies.

7 people were released on bail pending charges, the majority of which are for suspicion of contravening Section 10 of the Criminal Justice Act 1977. This offence can be described as actively resisting or obstructing an officer of the court in their duties.

Another 3 were formally charged with Section 10, and released on bail with instruction to appear at Hendon Magistrates on the 23rd of October.

6 were held in custody until a court appearance 48 hours later, in which 4 were bailed after being formally charged with Section 10. These 4 have had trial dates set for the 16-18th of December.

2 of the 6 have chosen to remain anonymous, and unfortunately have been denied bail despite police records showing that they have no prior convictions or any reason to keep them in custody. These two are now being held on remand in HMP Wormwood Scrubs.

It is an outrage that any of these people have been arrested in relation to the eviction on Sweets Way. The local police service were even reluctant to be involved in the whole process, however unfortunately in the execution of a high-court writ HCEO’s are imbued with the power of arrest. And of course the police have a reputation for “just doing their job” at the end of the day.

The fact that 2 have been jailed despite no evidence for concern of character being put before the court by the CPS is a complete travesty and we are doing everything to show our support for them and fight for their release. This has been very hard on everyone both emotionally and physically, and many people from the campaign have disappeared since the eviction, their silence through our ongoing struggle has been deafening.

We call out for anyone reading this to join us as we continue to fight, both for Mostafa’s family as he seeks to find appropriate accommodation, and for the brave souls who have put their lives and futures on the line in defence of their convictions.

We are holding a open meeting at 78 Oakleigh Road North, N20 9EZ on Tuesday night, 6th of October, at 6:30pm. We need both perspectives for deciding how best to continue as well as physical support to continue doing what we are doing.

The 2 anonymous arrestees will be re-appearing at Hendon Magistrates, NW9 7BY on Thursday the 8th of October at 10am. Please join us to show your support for these two selfless people. We only ask that should you know them, or find out that you know them when you arrive, please do not mention names or any details that may reveal their identity.

Your support through these hard times is appreciated.

If you can’t make either, any messages of solidarity or ideas you want to share will be warmly received to keep up morale of campaigners and those inside – if there are any good ones we can write them on boards and hold them up for the arrestees to see on Thursday morning.

Send to Sweets Way Resists

Walthamstow eviction resistance workshop

Sunday 5 July 4-6pm, St Barnabas Church Hall, St Barnabas Rd, Walthamstow, E17 8JZ

Nearest rail: Walthamstow Queens Rd (Gospel Oak to Barking Line)

Nearest tube/rail: Walthamstow Central (Victoria line, also Liverpool St – Chingford rail)

Map/buses directions

And join us later next door where a pop up pub is selling fine ales from Wildcard Brewery

Organised by Unite Community Waltham Forest, Radical Housing Network and Eviction Resistance

For more information, contact: 0795 404 7527

Community stops eviction in Walthamstow

Yesterday a group of campaigners and neighbours successfully prevented the eviction of a family from their home in Walthamstow. Eleanor Firman, of union Unite Community issued this statement:

Today myself and my local Unite Community group along with friends and neighbours plus Focus E15 and Radical Housing Network are all pulling together to help a mother and her two young children. She has complex health needs and is being evicted by her landlord in what looks like a revenge eviction. She had gone to a rent tribunal who lowered the rent to Local Housing Allowance rates. The landlord hardly waited a month before applying for repossession. This is totally unacceptable. I live a few streets away from the family and the property is identical to mine. It’s a friendly area but every year my neighbours and others like them are thrown out – its like clockwork, its so predictable. It’s usually so the landlord can put up the rent and avoid tackling repairs. I see it every week in this neighbourhood.  Property prices have doubled since I moved here a few years ago.  I always make friends with whoever moves in next door to me and warn them about the landlord (and the damp that is never sorted out). But it’s time to stop this exploitation. Everywhere people complain about the benefits bill yet its greedy landlords that are to blame. I love the community spirit around here and it hurts that these landlords spoil this and give Walthamstow a bad name. So today we’re resisting this eviction and sending the bailiffs away so this young mum and her family have time to get help from the council.

The local Guardian newspaper covered the story here and has a video of campaigners repelling the bailiffs

FredJohn towers: A report from the campaign meeting

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On Tuesday around 100 people crowded into the Epicentre on West Street, Leytonstone to discuss Waltham Forest Council’s plans for Fred Wigg and John Walsh towers.

The council offered residents two ‘options’: Either the refurbishment of the towers or a much more radical plan involving the construction of a third tower and the loss of 70 of the 234 council properties in favour of a number of private dwellings. One of the towers would be wholly private. In reality the council were only prepared to accept the latter option and have done everything they can to impose it on the tenants.

Two residents of the blocks described the way that residents’ wishes have been ignored by the council and Ascham Homes, which manages its housing function, over the last few years. After a fire the gas supply was cut off and electric cookers installed without giving any notice to the tenants. A concierge was put into the blocks on the grounds of security whilst requests for general maintenance went unheeded.

Peter, a retired housing professional, gave his assessment of the council’s proposals. He stated that the refurbishment option was value for money and achievable whereas the council’s preferred option was wildly ambitious and likely to cause severe disruption for several years.

A lawyer from the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers offered his services to the campaign.

Several tenants spoke of their desire to stay in the towers, where they have made their homes and brought up families. Some residents want to take up the opportunity to move away from the towers for a variety of reasons including the need for more space and wanting to be closer to relatives. However it was highlighted that council tenants who currently have a Secure Tenancy, which is a long term guarantee, would, based the current offer made by the council, have to take an insecure Assured or Fixed Term tenancy under a Housing Association. Housing Association rents are also much higher than council rents. It was stressed that good quality housing, especially that suited for families, at affordable rents is in extremely short supply.

Speaker after speaker emphasized that tenants should not sign any document that the council might present to them without taking legal advice, and that unity amongst tenants, regardless of whether they want to stay or leave, is essential.

We heard from campaigns across London including Focus E15, the Carpenters Estate and Boleyn Ground. A speaker from Our West Hendon talked about their struggle and the work of the Radical Housing Network which is seeking to bring together the many housing struggles across London.

The meeting ended with a number of tenants volunteering to join the FredJohn campaign’s committee.

The mood of the meeting was positive. If tenants stand firm and with wider support from local people and other housing activists there is a real possibility that the council’s plan can be reversed.