One of Boris Johnson’s last acts of public vandalism before he scuttles away to play politics in Westminster has been to declare parts of London as ‘Opportunity Areas’. What he means is opportunities for landlords and property developers, not the residents of places like Catford, Wembly and Croydon who will slowly be decanted, evicted and priced out of their homes and communities.
Catford Green isn’t even a fucking place, but that’s the name of the plush new development being built by Barratt Homes on the previously abandoned Catford dogtrack. It should have been called Catford Wasteland, because that’s what is was for the previous decade until someone worked out how to make some money from it. Now this prime site, next to the river and the parkland of Ladywell Fields, is to be turned into posh flats that nobody local can afford.
Previously Catford Town Centre had been left to little more than a managed decline with the only significant act of recent years being the abrupt close of the eccentric indoor market and its replacement with a giant Poundland. Now no expense is to be spared as Lewisham Council welcomes this influx of latte slurpng wankers into one of the poorest parts of London. The same local authority that recently closed four libraries is planting trees, sprucing up shop fronts and has even bought out the leaseholds of many local businesses – no doubt to ensure only the right kind of shops in the future. The kind that current residents won’t be able to afford to shop in.
Gentrification is not just a London phenomena. Every time the rich find somewhere nice, interesting or convenient that’s ours they will try to take it away. From the villages of the North Yorkshire moors to Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, they want it fucking all. Half the time they don’t even bother living there. They still want it though.
But they don’t want us. As the rich move in rents soar whilst parasites like Starbucks, Waitrose and Foxtons suck money out of local economies and shut down long standing local businesses. Young people face increased harassment from police everytime some stupid yuppy twat manages to get themselves mugged for their iphone. And slowly areas full of life, love and creativity turn into bland middle class Disneylands full of arseholes jabbering into smartphones about property prices all day.
The contempt these invaders hold for those whose homes they are stealing is easily found. Just take a look at the comments of this article where someone who calls themselves a Guardianista complains that Catford Town Centre is “full of the ugliness described by some commenters already, drunks, junkies and other unsavoury types”.
Not to worry some wanker responds. Catford’s “rough-round-the-edges charm” just needs to be “garnished with some of the pop-up pep of street food”. Pass the fucking sick bag.
Across London, and around the UK, people are starting to fight back. Whether communities uniting to challenge the Bedroom Tax, or the Focus E15 mums forcing the council to open up empty flats to homeless people, there is resistance everywhere. The weekly demonstrations against the odious ‘poor doors’ in Whitechapel are going from strength to strength – with an upcoming bonfire night theme protest looking lively. In Barnet residents being thrown out of their council flats to make way for new posh flats have blockaded the building site costing the developers thousands. This is the only thing these bastards understand. Get in their fucking faces and cost them money. Let’s not give up our homes and communities without the fight of our lives.
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