Tag Archives: squatters

Stokes Croft versus Tesco

Right, so I’ve missed out on all the excitement, but anyhow, here’s the story so far on the campaign to prevent the old Jesters building on Cheltenham Road from getting turned into another Tesco Express…

8th February

11th February

12th February

13th February

14th February

20th February

15th March

16th March

17th March

18th March

19th March

20th March

23rd March

Related links

I leave the last word to Al Shaw from Redland People/Trym Tales:

“…I am surprised that on the official press release by Avon and Somerset Constabulary announcing the eviction the force find it necessary to assist Tescos in their PR campaign by quoting a Tesco spokesman uncritically in connection with the company’s desire to open the controversial store.

“It’s one thing for the police to enforce the decision of a court (which is part of their job); when they act as a mouthpiece for a huge company which is widely disliked and criticised by people from a range of social and economic backgrounds, it seems to me that the force has stepped over the wrong side of a line and manifested a poitical bias.”

[Edited to add links.]

Ashley Road roof protest enters third week

Protesters have been camped out on the roof of 87 Ashley Road for two weeks today.

An open public meeting about the situation has been called for this Thursday, at 6.30pm at the St. Paul’s Learning Centre (or, erm, library).

Here’s the text of a leaflet as posted on Bristol IndyMedia:

On Thursday 27th of November an open public meeting is being held in The St Pauls Learning Centre at 6.30pm to discuss this situation. Supporters of the rooftop protesters will be in attendance to answer questions, respond to local concerns and open a dialogue with PfP.

Places for People are publicly invited to state and openly discuss what their intentions for 87 Ashley Road are. This will help assure everyone that they are in fact going to rehouse people on the housing waiting list.

We hope you can attend.
For further information contact:
Email: 87AshleyRoad@gmail.com
Phone:07722 786 379

Background:

On November 12th 2008 Places for People (PfP) executed an eviction order on 87 Ashley Road, a squatted building occupied by 20 people who have been made homeless by this action. This building was unused by PfP for four years and left empty until May 2008 when squatters working to house as many people as possible moved in.
PfP have refused all attempts to negotiate a mutually benifical agreement, repeatedly submitted incorrect possession claims to Bristol Magistrates courts and threatened illegal eviction. At one stage the sitting magistrate called PfPs representation “a right dog’s breakfast.”

As bailiff’s and builders working on behalf of Places for People entered the property several squatters moved onto the roof to resist eviction and have been there ever since.
As far as the courts are concerned the eviction has been served despite protesters being on the roof.

This press release is being written on the 14th day of continual rooftop occupation and is being sent to community groups and individuals in the St. Pauls area, and Places for People.

Builders have boarded up all normal exit points from the roof, leaving the roof protesters no safe, immediate access. PfP have instructed builders to render the property uninhabitable by removing ALL fixtures and fittings.

There are no planning applications currently under consideration by Bristol City Council for 87 Ashley Road. PfP have been vague about their intentions for the property, however they have mentioned plans that would not benefit anyone on the housing list.

The protest is part of a continuing concern over Places for People’s treatment of empty properties and it’s selling off of rental stock on the open market. PfP are selling properties via the “shared ownership” scheme while not replacing rental properties for those most in need. This will lead to an eventual return to the unaffordable rental market and a worse deal for low-income families seeking decent accomodation.

Resisting yuppification on Ashley Road

Ashley Road resister fists 'Places For People'

I popped up the road earlier to see how things were going at the 87 Ashley Road squat eviction resistance (hmmm, bit of a mouthful there, sorry).

To rewind a little: until yesterday, there was a squat on 87 Ashley Road, but it was evicted in the morning. Former squatters of the Places For People-owned building (and possibly others) then managed to evade security, bailiffs and police, and gained access to the roof. They have been there ever since.

According to people on the ground supporting them, they have ample wet- and warm-weather gear, food, supplies and other such useful materials up there.

The reasons for the resistance are outlined in a leaflet:

Dear Neighbours

At 10.am this morning (12/11/08) police and bailiffs smashed their way into 87 Ashley Road evicting some of the occupants. Several people are on the roof, while contractors and bailiffs rip up the inside to make the house uninhabitable.

We are resisting this eviction because…

  1. We need somewhere to live.
  2. Taking your housing needs into your own hands is a positive thing, especially when social housing has such long waiting lists.
  3. This building has been left empty for at least 4 years, during this time both Places for People (P4P) and Bristol Churches (previous owners) have made no attempt to renovate or convert it into social housing. That’s 8 potential flats that have been left to rot. And for the past 6 months no.87 has housed more than 30 people.
  4. P4P have no planning permission to use or renovate this building. This morning a P4P representative said that the only active planning application they have is for April 2009, where 87 will contain a ‘site office’ for the ‘development’ of 16 other ‘shared ownership’ properties in the St. Pauls Area.
  5. St. Pauls UnLtd have opposed P4P’s plans because they did not provide enough social housing or affordable housing.
  6. Existing P4P tenants complain about the standard of service of maintenance in their existing properties.
  7. Everyone has a right to a home: Squatting is legal, necessary, and provides an alternative to the stranglehold of debt that underpins the current financial crisis.
  8. Tying people into 30+years of mortgage debt is an illusion of housing security, in the light recent repossessions.
  9. We are part of this community and against all privatizations, repossessions and evictions.

P4P are more concerned with money than housing those in need they are the biggest UK housing association and have the highest paid chief executives in the housing sector (Director salary: £258k in 2007). Housing associations were set up to fill the gap left by Thatcher’s destruction of social housing provision. They cannot legally make profits, but make up for this with fat bonus checks for the fat cats. That’s taxpayer’s money going to fund extravagant lifestyles

For more information and sources about P4P please check indymedia

http://bristol.indymedia.org

‘Direct action is better than any waiting list’ Squatters handbook. (Or mortgage!)

87 Ashley Road eviction resistanceI used to squat, because I was too poor (despite a full-time – but minimum wage – job) to rent privately, and locked out of the housing list. The property I squatted had long been emptied by its owner, a housing association. Despite assurances to its previous tenants that it would be repaired to an acceptable standard and that they would be permitted to return to it, it was not, and they weren’t. I and my fellow squatters were able to quietly live there for nearly six months before the housing association even realised we were there. We negotiated a situation with the housing association whereby they would not institute eviction proceedings against us, and in return we would vacate the premises (with fair notice) when they were ready to make good the building for the return of its tenants. In its life as a squat, this building helped house around twenty people, and helped seven or eight get onto the housing list, where they might secure decent long-term accommodation.

After I left, there was some kind of breakdown in relations between the squat and the housing association (I’m not sure of the details), and I believe an eviction was carried out. The building was then left to rot until the housing association was able to discharge its obligations under law, and then to sell it on the open market to a private developer. The tenants did not return. The building is now in the private sector, another piece of prime inner city real estate lost from the social housing sector.

Therein lies the rub – just because an empty property’s owner is a ‘social landlord’, it does not necessarily follow that the landlord wishes to use the property to house poorer people who want to rent. Often the landlord will look to the market, and decide that ‘shared ownership’ or open market sales would be more desirable – desirable to the landlord, not to those it is meant to be housing.

From what I understand of the situation at 87 Ashley Road, the building was not cleared of squatters so tenants from the housing list might be rented a home there, but instead to sell off. This is not about ‘places for people’, this is about profits.

The roof resisters seem like they might be there for a while. I’m sure they would welcome support on the ground, even if only for a few minutes.