Tag Archives: Sweets Way

We Deserve Queen’s Award For Industry Says Housing Boss Currently Evicting The Sweet’s Way Families

sweetsway1Housing activists fighting evictions are ‘ludicrous’ and ‘we shouldn’t worry too much about them’ say out of touch housing association bosses defending regeneration schemes which are forcing people out of their homes.

The astonishing comments form part of a feature on London’s growing housing movement which Inside Housing published on their website last week.  The largely positive piece highlighted the anger created by the desperate shortage of social housing in the capital and told the stories of the tenants, homeless people, squatters and frontline housing workers who are fighting back.

Unfortunately it also featured outbursts from whining housing association bosses who complain that social media means that they are now being held accountable for the things that they do.  It’s not fair they say, with the boss of  Notting Hill Housing Association, Kate Davies, even claiming they deserve a ‘pat on the back’ and the ‘Queen’s award for industry’ for all their tireless work decanting and evicting families from their homes.

Davies is in charge of the Sweet’s Way housing estate in Barnet where, as Inside Housing point out, 142 former military homes now mostly containing low income families are being replaced by a redevelopment in which just 59 new properties will be ‘affordable’.  And affordable means rents that could be as high as 80% of those in the private sector, meaning few can really afford them.  None of the new homes built will be available for ‘social rent’, the kind of low but still substantial rents that used to be normal in housing association and council properties.  The current residents who are set to lose their homes have launched a furious fight back but Davies implies she doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.  She must think we’re fucking idiots.

Simon Dow, boss of the Guinness Partnership, is equally unrepentent.  He concedes his organisation has some responsibility to explain to current tenants ‘where they fit into’ regeneration plans – yet the reality, and problem, is that many don’t fit into these plans at all, such as the Guiness tenants on the Loughborough Estate in Brixton who are facing imminent eviction.  But Dow says he is ‘less interested’ in the views of those not from the estate, meaning the housing campaigners who have worked alongside those facing the loss of their homes to try and stall and prevent evictions.  It is this kind of social solidarity that concerns Dow who concludes that if this militancy amongst tenants spreads throughout the sector then they might have to worry about whether what they are doing is a good idea.

And one of the things they are doing is paying themselves huge sums of money.  In 2012/13 Simon Dow was paid over a quarter of a million pounds.  You read that right – a quarter of a fucking million pounds.  Enough to buy a new home every year.  Kate Davies, of the Notting Hill Housing Association was paid just short of £200,000.  Is it any wonder that they are so out of touch and aloof from the people they are paid with both tax payer’s and tenant’s money to house?

If Davies and Dow actually lived on the estates they are currently demolishing then they might have some understanding of the utter devastation that eviction, homelessness or forced relocation can cause to the lives of already struggling families.  They might realise that one fucking eviction is one too many, and that the chronic lack of social housing means the situation is now at breaking point.  Instead they whinge about government funding cuts whilst still drawing huge wages and complain about tenants being too uppity and not understanding the challenges poor housing bosses face.  Their only glimmer of dissent has been to team up with the other villains in this story – property developers – to join the Homes for Britain campaign, a shoddy front aiming to use the housing crisis as an excuse to build more houses for rich people.

If you find yourself calling riot police on housing campaigners, or using bailiffs to violently evict families from their homes, then you are on the wrong fucking side.  A five year could could tell you that.  The kids currently living in shitty temporary accommodation miles from friends and families know that.  There is no room for argument.  If housing association bosses really don’t like what the government is doing then good, it’s time they did something about it.  Whether that means getting out on the streets, or not co-operating, or even just paying themselves a bit less and paying a few people’s bedroom tax instead, is for them to decide.  Or perhaps they could get out of the way altogether, and let tenants, not highly paid bureacrats, manage the homes and communities they live in.

Visit the Radical Housing Network’s event calendar for details of upcoming protests, action and meetings and keep July 11th free for when Class War’s anti-gentrification Fuck Parade takes to the streets of Camden.

Class War will also be out on the streets tomorrow (Wednesday 27th May) on the state opening of Parliament.  Meet at 11am prompt in Parliament Square.  Later in the day the National Coalition against Fees and Cuts have called a march from 5pm – assemble in Trafalgar Square.

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Support The Sweets Way Occupation, Let’s Take Our Cities Back

How the fuck is a child supposed to understand why they don’t have a home? These are kids who see their parents going out to work long hours for shit wages, or battling illness, or struggling to find work. They see a parent who loves them, cares for them, feeds them – who does all the things that a parent is supposed to do – and yet that is not enough. The most basic form of human security, even survival, is now fast becoming something only the affluent can afford in many parts of the UK.

Almost every day seems to bring another story of low income families being forced from their homes to make way for luxury flats, as property developers turn the ground we walk on into a chance for them to increase their millions. And if anyone complains than the rich simply call on the machinery of the state – coppers, courts and bailiffs – to enforce their so-called property rights with unfeeling violence. Kids have no reference point for this kind of behaviour. They are taught to share and look after each other. There could hardly be a worse preparation for the realities of cut-throat capitalism.

Not one of the main political parties gives a shit about the desperate shortage of genuinely affordable housing. Most MPs care far more about their own property portfolios than they do about their homeless constituents. None of them have ever had to explain to their children why they have to move far away from their schools, friends and families, only to be placed in yet more temporary housing, sometimes in a different city, to await their next forced relocation.

The video above tells the story of children currently being socially cleansed from their homes on the Sweets Way estate in Barnet (ht @IzzyKoksal). These are not families that were living in luxury central London homes. Barnet is a suburb, so far from the centre of London that the aristocratic local MP Theresa Villiers used our money to help her buy a second home nearer Parliament.   This was a quiet and modest estate where people had lived for over five years. Now they face eviction, with some offered temporary properties as far away as Birmingham and others abandoned by the council completely.

One of the empty flats on the estate was occupied over the weekend as the tenants mount a fightback against this demolition of both their homes and their lives. Similar struggles are emerging across London and they are winning. We are only powerless when we play by their rules. Occupations and collective action, legal or otherwise, are the only tools we have. Fuck the law, fuck the bailiffs and fuck the rich they serve. This is our city. Let’s take it back.

For more info on the Sweets Way tenants visit Barnet Housing Action’s website or follow them on twitter @SweetsWayN20

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

Join me on facebook or follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid