Tag Archives: Gentrification

A Tale of Two Cities. How London Is More Divided Than Ever Before.

simon-jenkinsRarely has London been so divided.  The fracture in UK politics – where the Tories are despised in the North, Scotland and Wales but rule anyway – cuts through the heart of the capital city.  Here the poor and the rich often live alongside each other, and walk the same streets, but they might as well be in different cities.  And whilst those with nothing cannot fail to notice the gleaming new skyscrapers, the wealthy cannot the see the lives of the poor.  We are just tenants to them, or low paid skivvies, here to clean up their shit and fatten their wallets.  Not worth talking to, or thinking too much about.

So it is no surprise at all that a fucking toff like Simon Jenkins – ex-public school then Oxbridge of course, and now a columnist for both the Evening Standard and The Guardian – should be so blisteringly out of touch that he can declare that London’s housing crisis is a myth.  That’s all you need to know by the way, you don’t have to read his shit.  Jenkins, who lives in a plush Kensington & Chelsea house and reportedly owns another property, thinks everything’s just fine and the poor should stop whining and live in sheds.  Or move to Salford where that £65,000 they’ve probably got kicking around in a savings account somewhere will buy them a home.  Or some such bollocks.

To the pampered rich, money doesn’t run out and poverty is really beyond their comprehension.  They have no knowledge of the small, but never ending depravations that fill up the lives of the poor.  They have no way of imagining what’s it’s like to be sucked dry of what little you have by pre-pay electric metres, benefit sanctions, travel costs, loan sharks or rent increases.  They have never experienced the debilitating panic that devours the body and mind when you receive an eviction notice, or your hours are cut, or you get a brown letter from the DWP calling you in for a benefit assessment.  If the rich are hungry they eat, if they are cold they put the heating on, and if their kids need shoes they buy them some, without a second thought.

In the absence of any real experience of how many people live, all the privileged like Jenkins have to go on is cold statistics.  That’s why he says the only priority for housing policy should be addressing the 60,000 families in temporary accommodation, with everybody else abandoned to market forces.  He probably doesn’t even know that those 60,000 families only represent a fraction of the true number of homeless people.  It doesn’t even include people living on the street, or in fact anyone at all without chldren unless they have a significant health condition.  Neither does it consider the hundreds of thousands of kids growing up in social housing who will not be able to afford to live in London when they are old.  Or the growing number of people in their 40s and 50s who are renting privately and will never know what it is like to have a secure place to live – and who face a bleak future in retirement when they are dependent on Housing Benefit to pay the rent.  Whilst every measure of homelessness is rising sharply, it is not just those without a roof who are suffering from the housing crisis.

When something directly affects the rich however, even in the most trivial way, we never fucking stop hearing about it.  In 2013 Jenkins wrote a breath-taking piece for the Evening Standard declaring that the only real housing crisis in London was that the opulent West London streets he lives in are becoming a ‘peculiar’  and ‘eerie’ due to the number of homes bought as investments and left empty.  This is a terrible thing whines Jenkins, whilst condemning everyone else’s housing concerns as hysterical.  After all you can still buy a flat in Camden for less than £300,000.  Except you can’t.

London is now two cities, a fantasy world for the rich and an economic torture chamber for the poor.  And someone living in a fantasy can never understand the rage of those being quietly exploited, or expelled.  Just look at the acres of newsprint devoted to some paint on a cereal cafe whilst the desperate stories of social cleansing go almost untold.  It’s news when the powerless fight back but  only when there is a minor inconvenience to the cosseted business class.  They are so astounded by our anger that they think it’s unreasonable.  Why don’t we just have a crêpe and a latte or something and calm down.  Or spend a fiver on a bowl of cereal.  For heaven’s sake poor people, you might spoil Disneyland.  Indeed we fucking might.   In fact we intend to.

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Ignore The Fucking Hipsters Crying Into Their Cornflakes, Long Live The Fucking #FuckParade

malcolm-xRarely has there been a more open display of arrogant entitlement than the alliance of pampered hipsters and Tory scum who have lined up across the media to attack yesterday’s anti-gentrification protest in Shoreditch.  From ‘High Society Darlings’ in The Independent to the usual spittle-flecked tirades in The Telegraph, the establishment are united in their revulsion that working class people could not only organise themselves, but took a step beyond the usual stale political marches and petitions that we are supposed to use to air our grievances.

By all sensible accounts last night’s Fuck Parade – organised by Class War and named after similar anti-gentrification protests in Berlin – was a huge success.  Hundreds of people took to the streets for a party and protest that has lit up the debate about gentrifcation in London.  At one point an estate agent’s window was shattered, whilst some paint and cornflakes were thrown at the daft Cereal Killer Cafe – an emblem of the hipster invasion of East London where bowls of cereal can cost the best part of a fiver.  And it is a fucking invasion as posh flats and trust-funded small businesses spread across London like a virus, with every last brick turned into an investment opportunity.

Some of those new local business owners have suggested that to complain about this is a bit like racism – raising the ghost of Oswald Mosley to smear the protesters.  The owners of the cereal cafe have even complained that the protest was a hate crime.  Have you ever heard anything so fucking vile?  To the cosseted middle classes racism, and even fascism,  are just things to be re-appropriated for their benefit when their privilege comes under attack.  How the poor hipsters have suffered due to a bit of paint on a window and some loud music and shouting.  It’s like Nazi Germany all over again, only this time the victims are posh white people who run businesses.  They are no different to the UKIP pub bores dribbling into their pints about the global conspiracy against the straight white middle-class male.

The harsh reality is that, according to the government’s homelessness statistics, at least 259 children were made homeless in Hackney in the last quarter.  This is what gentrification does to people.  That’s 259 young lives destroyed by soaring rents and housing shortages.  And that’s just those who were classed as officially homeless and so eligible for help from the local council.  Hundreds of thousands of kids are growing up in social housing who will have nowhere to live when they are older.  A crisis is taking place in the lives of London’s poorest residents who will never share in the middle class Disneyland that is being created in the wake of social cleansing.

None of this is our fault plead the hipsters, why not blame the council.  And the council blames the property developers, who in turn, say they are just providing the homes and business spaces that people want – like the people who run the Cereal Killer Cafe.  No-one is to blame, and yet everyone’s making a buck.  Except the poor, the collateral damage in this profit driven frenzy that is destroying the city.

So fuck small businesses.  Today’s hipster entrepreneur is the Richard Branson of tomorrow – and it would have done no harm if that cunt had been nipped in the bud early.  That doesn’t mean you should fall out with your local off licence, you’ll never get anything on tick that way.  There are many businesses that we have little choice but to use and that may be run by people that give something back to the community that provides their lifestyle.  These kinds of businesses are also falling victim to gentrification.  But to pretend that the interests of business and the people who work for them are the same is horseshit.  That is why the Tory Party styles itself as the party of small business people and acts as they do.  Every current attack on the poor is being carried out not just for the benefit of the super rich, but also the gentrifiers of Shoreditch and their pop up monstrosities.  If the new business class don’t like that they could try and do something about it.  But instead they seek to profit from it.

Of course these hipsters have decided that last night was all about them.  Everything always is.  But the Fuck Parade is clearly about more than a bit of paint on a cafe’s window.  As long time East End resident Martin Lux has said, Saturday night was a continuation of the near thousand year old tradition of the London mob.  Hundreds of people joined a protest that didn’t ask for permission and took to the streets with the mixture of carnival and defiance that has defined popular protests in London.  An anti-gentrification movement with real teeth – but that is also fun to be a part of – is what the city desperately needs.  So ignore the fucking hipsters crying into their cornflakes, and long live the fucking Fuck Parade!

UPDATE:  Class War have now released a statement about the events of Saturday night.

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This Is Fucking Vandalism, London’s History And Culture Are Being Destroyed In The Name Of Greed

black-capsAround 150 people joined a protest outside The Black Cap public house in Camden yesterday after it closed suddenly and without warning last week.  The long running LGBT venue opened in the 1960s, surviving throughout the days when gay people faced prosecution.  Now it is falling victim to rampant gentrification that respects neither culture or history and seeks only to make as much money as possible for greedy property developers.

Speaking at the protest drag artist Titti La Camp, a former performer at the pub, said 10 gay venues had closed in central London since the current Tory government weren’t elected.  In an all too familiar story, those trying to save The Black Cap believe it is likely to be converted into yet more luxury flats that nobody local can afford.

camden-marketsA few hundred yards away a large part of Camden Market is currently a building site, awaiting being converted into a soulless offices along with 170 new homes of which only 17 will be affordable.  The company behind the development is owned by billionaire Teddy Sagi, the man behind the explosion of fixed-odds betting terminals in bookies which have been called the crack cocaine of the gambling world.  Sagi’s company also owns Stables Market in Camden and several other local sites which are earmarked for development.

hardwaresDown the road in Berwick Street, Soho, a new development has led to the end of many long running local businesses like That’s Andy’s hardware shop which had existed for 20 years.  Many more shops lie empty after being forced to close.shop-signs

walkers-court-sohoThis is Walker’s Court at the end of Berwick Street.  This narrow passageway  was often photographed as an iconic example of Soho’s historic association with sex work.  Now it is boarded up and awaiting development by Soho Estates, the company founded by the late Paul Raymond who made millions out of Soho’s sex trade.  His grand-daughter, one of the UK’s richest women who sits on the board of Soho Estates, is now set to make millions out of the destruction of Soho’s sex work industry.madame-jojos-closedJust around the corner from Walker’s Court the famous Madame Jojo’s cabaret and burlesque venue was closed down at the end of last year.  The club was stripped of its licence after an alleged violent incident took place involving the club’s bouncers.  Madame Jojo’s had replaced both the management and security team after the incident but this was not enough to satisfy Westminster Council.  Those who used and loved the venue believe the real reason it was closed was the Council’s desire to gentrify the area.denmark-streetLess than 10 minutes walk away lies Denmark Street, better known as Tin Pan Alley, once the heart of the UK’s music industry and still a living, breathing community of musicians. Now it is being redeveloped into a “super-flexible, digitally-enabled streetscape” with posh flats, hotels, gigantic advertising boards, a ‘sky bar’ and a new piazza.  The developers call it a run down corner of London.  They should come to fucking Catford.  Actually they shouldn’t, cunts like them are already coming to Catford.  Some of the music shops have moved out of Denmark Street already.sax-shop-closedbailiffs-12barThese signs appear on the empty properties along Denmark Street after Bohemians 4 Soho squatted the 12 Bar Club in a last ditch effort to save the famous music venue from closure.  An army of bailiffs and security guards are now stationed in Central London protecting the property of the rich from the people who live here.st-martins-loftsThis is what is replacing these much loved venues and famous landmarks.  These loft apartments are on the former site of St Martin’s Art school, now re-located to King’s Cross.  A two bedroom flat in this building will cost you £4.5 million.  Of course it’s not just posh flats that are replacing our homes and community venues.new-mcdonalds-sohoLondon does not have a housing problem it has a rich people problem.  The decimation of Soho and Camden is just one side of it.  The other is the tragic evictions taking place everywhere from Barnet to Brixton and the record numbers of people sleeping on London’s streets.

Nobody wants this vandalism except for the grasping property developers, greedy landlords and global super rich who are turning every last brick in the city into an investment opportunity. They could not give a fuck about the people who live here – the people who built London and do the real work that makes it function.  This is not a natural development of the city due to changing fashions and demographics.  It is certainly not regeneration.  It is a robbery.  A city being reconstructed as Disneyland, where no real people can afford to live.  It will be the death of London in the end.  And the rich won’t care, they will be busy destroying somewhere else by then.

But there are fucking loads more of us than them.  Struggles over housing and community venues are bursting into life everywhere.  London has a long tradition of subversion, disobedience, rebellion and riots.  The London mob must rise again.  All of us, together, against the fucking rich.

The fight to save the Black Cap is not over, visit their facebook page.

Join the mass action against property developers at the vile Property Awards being held at the Grosvenor Hotel on Park Lane this Tuesday 21st April, full details on facebook.

Reclaim Brixton is taking place on Saturday 25th April, for a run down of what’s taking place visit: http://www.brixtonbuzz.com/2015/04/reclaim-brixton-event-on-sat-25th-april-times-places-and-meet-up-points/

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The Virus Is Coming … Working Class Areas Face Influx Of Wankers

catford-greenLondon’s last few remaining working class areas are facing an influx of chinless fucking idiots as luxury flats spring up like a virus rampaging to the outskirts of the capital.

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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Something Is Stirring In The Capital: The Fight Against Social Cleansing Bursts Into Life

poor-doorsWith the Tory’s threatening a new benefit cap and cuts to Local Housing Allowance if they win the next election, it is unsurprising that London’s fucked housing market is emerging as a key site of struggle in the capital.

Two diffrent events this week will highlight the grotesque inequality in a city where global billionaires buy luxury penthouses to keep empty as investments whilst people sleep in the streets below

Wednesday (1st October – tomorrow!) the biggest demonstration against the Poor Doors so far is set to take place.  This weekly protest, outside 1 Commercial Street E1, began after it emerged that the residents in the meagre supply of social housing in this yuppy block of flats are forced to use a different door to the toffs who occupy the luxury properties.

The protests are now in their 10th week and are growing.  Last week the lobby of the building was briefly cccupied, whilst veteran anarchist and fellow blogger Ian Bone, who has supported the protests, was arrested.  Unbowed Bone says tomorrow is likely to be the crunch as Redrow* and the TSG (riot cops) throw their resources into maintaining apartheid in central London…..we’ve got to win this one.”  Get down to 1 Commercial Street, E1 from 6pm, Wednesday October 1st and show the rich they are the ones who are not welcome in the East End borough of Tower Hamlets. 

*Redrow are the property developers behind the poor doors, you can find them on twitter @RedrowLondon

Then on Thursday 2nd October the Focus E15 mums have called for support outside the courts where Newham Council will attempt to have them evicted from the flats they have occupied on the Carpenter’s Estate in Stratford.

This group of local single parents have been fighting for secure housing for their children ever since they were kicked out of a hostel that Newham Council decided to close to save money.  They have been told they face being socially cleansed from the city and could be rehoused as far away as Manchester.

After repeatedly being snubbed by nasty piece of shit Robin Wales, the Labour Mayor of Newham, last week the group occupied several empty flats on the Carpenter’s Estate which is set to be demolished – no doubt to make way for more yuppy flats.  The council are seeking a possession order at Bow County Court this week and the E15 mothers have called for support – be outside the courts at 96 Romford Rd E15 4EG from 9.30am Thursday October 2nd.

You can also follow the campaign on twitter @FocusE15 and @E15OpenHouse or join them on facebook.

Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth (HASL) have also been fighting against evictions due to welfare reforms and rampant gentrification, follow them @HousingActionSL  Residents of West Hendon Estate in Barnet have faced arrests after fighting the destruction of their homes to make way for million pound flats.  Join their facebook page for more details.

And that’s not all as resistance to austerity, forced work and shit housing bursts back into life.  Next week sees a Week of Action Against Workfare with events already announced in Edinburgh, Bristol, Brighton, Haringey, Central London and even Amsterdam!  Online actions are also set to take place, keep an eye on the Boycott Workfare website for full details.

Meznwhile Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) are calling on people to crash the Tory Party Conference Twittersphere by hijacking their hashtag #CPC14.  Send your own tweets or visit DPAC’s website for some of theirs.

Please tweet, blog, share and spread the word about all events and join in if you can.

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

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East London Against Gentrification

Two events being held in East London this week are worthy of a plug, highlghting as they do the devasting impact gentrification and the London Olympics are having on working class communities in East London.

First up:

Vancouver Anti Poverty Committee: Fight the Olympics
Public Talk on Wednesday the 21st of May 8pm

Action Eastend and London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP) are organising a joint public meeting for a Canadian comrade involved in the Anti Poverty Committee in Canada and anti-olympic solidarity.

She will be introducing the ‘Five Ring Circus’ film about the travesty of the 2010 Winter Olympics followed by questions and discussion.

The event is being held at the Bowl Court Social Centre, Bowl Court, Shoreditch.

Then on Saturday:

Movement for Justice in El Barrio: Gentrification from Harlem to Dalston
Public Talk Saturday the 24th of May

Juan Haro, a speaker from Movement for Justice in El Barrio, will talk in Dalston about their struggle against displacement by gentrification in Harlem, New York City.

The venue is Passing Clouds, on Richmond Rd, just off Kingsland road in Dalston from 7pm.

This will be followed by Latin bands and DJs hosted by Movimientos at around 9pm “From folkloric to electronic Movimientos is the sound of London’s Latin alternative”. (£5 entry)

For further details check indymedia.

Finally we say a belated goodbye to WiminSpace Social Centre in Hackney which was evicted just over a week ago. The folk involved in this popular space for women and trans-people are setting up an anarcha-feminist collective. If you want to be part of the early stages of forming this group then get in touch: womenorganise@yahoo.co.uk

We’re feeling very worthy today, we’ll be back to sarcasmand abuse soon.