A week under threat of brutal eviction by high court bailiffs is bound to put most people into a pretty bad state… but it will take more than high court bailiffs to silence the Sweets Way community!
It was a week ago on Friday that Annington Properties had everyone left on the estate’s possession orders moved from County Court to High Court bailiffs. This meant that as of Monday morning, families were facing the prospect of goons kicking in their front doors, unannounced, at 6am, leaving them with ten or so minutes to empty all of their belongings into the street. Luckily, this didn’t transpire, though it did set-off a real panic amongst the remaining families at Sweets Way. In the panic, we all headed to Barnet Homes and demanded immediate rehousing. What families got varied considerably, and continued the pattern of people being moved into places that are simultaneously:
- More expensive than Sweets Way,
- Of worse quality than Sweets Way, and
- Further away from the schools, jobs and health care needs of the residents of Sweets Way.
We continue to be disgusted by the social cleansing of our community, but we are no less committed to fighting it, even if the estate is almost empty.
With this shared resolution in mind, we decided to pay a visit to the home of Councillor Richard Cornelius, who is both our ward councillor, and the Leader of Barnet Council, who of course approved Annington’s development plans for Sweets Way, among many other scuzzy moves. (Check our friends at Barnet Housing Action or the Broken Barnet blog for more on the dodgy dealings of Barnet Council).
As it turned out, he wasn’t around, but that didn’t stop us from launching a ‘grassroots regeneration scheme’ in his front garden, with tents and brollies labelled ‘temporary’ and ‘emergency accommodation’ to highlight the precariousness that the families of Sweets Way have been forced to live with. Some families have moved FOUR times since February! Others have been without heating and hot water! Most have been moved so far away from the places they need to be to live their lives, as to have affected children’s schooling and parents’ work.
So as the children pitched tents and sang songs in front of the Cornelius’ family home, we took our first steps to bringing homelessness home to one of the people most responsible for creating it. Richard Cornelius has led on countless decisions that have made Barnet a far harder place to be poor and working class, yet has been able to return each day to his Totteridge home and sleep-easy without having to face the consequences of these decisions.
We don’t have that luxury. As long as we aren’t able to live with dignity in our own borough, neither will those who have constructed this so-called housing crisis in a borough:
- With 3,400 empty homes (2.14% of total properties in the Borough),
- Which has approved the demolition or sell-off of thousands of council flats, and
- Which has only built THREE new council homes in the last 22 years (zero from 2003 – 2013).
As long as Barnet Council makes social cleansing their official housing policy, those who have constructed these policies, and those who have benefited from them, will continue to hear from us…