Barnet tell Mostafa he’s on his own now

After months of inaccessible housing offers, a brutal eviction and an ongoing refusal to recognise the extent of his disability, Barnet Homes have discharged their duty to house Mostafa and his family, leaving them alone to find a home! Barnet need to hear from ALL of us this week!

Photo: Micha Theiner (The Independent)

Photo: Micha Theiner (The Independent)

Last Wednesday afternoon, after going to hospital earlier in the week with a stress-related illness following his eviction, Mostafa went back to his GP to get a stronger painkiller prescription. As is not uncommon when changing medication, the new drugs left him exhausted, hardly able to stay awake.

Mostafa’s son, Ash, emailed Barnet Homes to say that, under duress, his father was planning to sign for and accept the current inaccessible housing offer, but was unable to do so before the 2pm deadline they had decided upon, due to the side effects of his change in medication. He received no response.

At 7pm, he received a reply: it told him that his father had missed the latest deadline to accept the property and that Barnet Homes were discharging their duty to him. This also comes after a new letter from Mostafa’s GP, presented to Barnet Homes, outlined the exact extent of Mostafa’s needs. The letter was rejected by Barnet, even after they had asked for further evidence of his disability, claiming it wasn’t sufficient and that only a letter from a hospital consultant – which often take months to secure – would be accepted.

After a discharge, Mostafa will be determined to be ‘intentionally homeless,’ a twisted use of language that aims to blame people who have suffered through unjust treatment by the Council, for their situation. If this discharge of duty is upheld, Mostafa will have incredibly limited recourse to housing support in the next two years, and it will be much harder to challenge the three years of mistreatment he has already received from the Council.

Barnet Homes need to reverse their decision NOW! And if they are going to do so, they need to know that the public spotlight hasn’t gone away after their family’s eviction. They need to hear from us!

Email Troy Henshall [troy.henshall@barnet.gov.uk], Chief Executive of Barnet Homes, and ask him to re-assume duty of care for Mostafa’s housing needs, effective immediately. You can find a template email here.

Barnet seem more concerned with asserting vindictive power over Mostafa’s life, than with living up to their duty of care. For the past several months, they have constantly said that a new home is within his reach, then have pulled it away at the last second, or claimed that yet another piece of information is required before they can act to address his needs. This is utterly shameful and the individuals responsible shouldn’t be allowed to stay in their jobs, as the details of Mostafa’s treatment come to light.

Barnet clearly thought that after the media explosion sparked by their cruel eviction of a wheelchair user, that attention would fade and they could get on with the dirty work of washing their hands of his situation. Let’s prove them wrong! We will not rest until Barnet have provided Mostafa with the home he needs and deserves!

Mostafa evicted and prisoner solidarity needed!

This morning the violent thugs returned to the estate after yesterday’s brutal Sweetstopia eviction and executed their possession order against Mostafa and his family, the final original residents at Sweets Way. Solidarity actions with those arrested at 6pm.

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High Court bailiffs smashed through the window of the room Mostafa was sleeping in, to forcibly remove him from his home today. The eviction leaves the family without a home, unwilling to sign for a property offered by Barnet Homes that he literally can’t get in and out of in his wheelchair. This offer would be enough of an insult, were it not already coming after three years of mistreatment of the family by Barnet Homes.

The family have been attempting to secure additional evidence that Barnet claim they need to house him properly, but have been stifled by bureaucracy in the past week. Today, they will be pursuing alternative evidence that will be presented to Barnet as soon as it is received. The family has until tomorrow (Friday) to accept the current offer or face discharge from the Barnet Homes housing list.

Many supporters gathered to impede Mostafa’s eviction, with several taking to the roof of the house to do so. High Court bailiffs in a cherry picker crane have since physically removed the protestors, one-by-one, arresting them for obstruction. Sixteen arrests of peaceful protesters were made this morning.

We will continue to support Mostafa in this critical moment. We also need to make sure that those who were defending his home feel all of our support for their brave stands this morning and over the last months.

Join us at either Colindale police station (Grahame Park Way, NW9 5TW) OR South Harrow Police Station (74 Northolt Road, HA2 0DN) at 6pm (people are being held at both stations) to demand their unconditional release!

We will not see our friends locked up, while Guy Hands and the architects of social cleansing at Sweets Way are allowed to walk free!

WE ARE FIGHTING AN ESTATE-WIDE EVICTION!

This is the Sweets Way Resists statement on the current mass eviction happening across the estate. Support needed at Mostafa’s at 6am Thursday for 2nd round of evictions!

UPDATE: After a brutal day, Sweetstopia was evicted, as was the People’s Regeneration Show Home, but Mostafa and the Sweets Way Resists community house remain. We expect bailiffs and police to return tomorrow (Thursday) morning and need support. Please come to 46 Sweets Way at 6am if you can, to help keep Mostafa in his home!

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After more than six months of occupation to prevent the demolition of 142 family homes, Barnet Council, Annington Properties, the London Metropolitan Police and other emergency services are colluding to carry out a violent eviction of the entire Sweets Way estate.

Mostafa and his family remain in their home, but will be in court today at 3pm challenging the use of high court bailiffs for their eviction. If they lose, it seems inevitable that the eviction will extend to 46 Sweets Way immediately, while they are still in at the courthouse.

What we are facing right now is the hard edge of social cleansing; when we dig in and fight to stay in our homes and our communities in London, we are met with violence. This is the brutal truth of ‘regeneration’ and ‘gentrification.’

The use of public resources to carry out this eviction is especially disturbing, and the Met and Council have a lot to answer for. Public money should not be spent protecting Annington’s private investment, particularly as its returns will end up in Guernsey and the Cayman Islands, robbing the British public of any benefits from this twisted arrangement, once again.

With or without the occupation, we will continue to fight Annington and Barnet at every juncture. We will not stand by and accept the social cleansing of our community, or our city.

We have impeded development for more than six months; many families have been rehoused in better situations, and we have shone a bright light on the vile processes through which poor and working people are being cleansed from the capital.

We remind everyone in London and beyond who are facing other battles in the fight for homes and community, that we need to stand together to keep our communities intact, especially as so few politicians are willing to stand with us.

We may lose the estate, but we have joined Focus E15, New Era, Our West Hendon, Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth, the Aylesbury resistance and others in making it clear that social cleansing will come at an immense price for Councils and developers alike.

It is no longer business as usual for the architects of social cleansing.

The fight is not over! Come to Mostafa’s house at 46 Sweets Way for 6am Wednesday to help stop the eviction of the final original Sweets Way resident!

Barnet Homes have decided that Mostafa can walk

Yesterday Barnet refused to commit to the renovations needed to make a house offered to the last Sweets Way family, accessible for Mostafa’s needs as a wheelchair user.

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Mostafa, in his home at Sweets Way

Barnet Homes decided, unequivocally on Monday, that Mostafa – a resident of the last Sweets Way household and a wheelchair user with serious spinal injuries – is able to walk. They refused to tell the family exactly how they had come to this conclusion.

This would be utterly ridiculous if the costs were not so high. Mostafa injured his back three years ago while working as a carer in a home for the elderly. Since then, Barnet Homes have bounced the family around between temporary accommodations, none of which have been suitable to Mostafa’s needs. But after years of indignity and challenges created by inadequate housing offers, Mostafa is clear that he will not settle for something that fails to meet his basic needs. His Sweets Way home is far from perfect, but he’s not keen to go through the stress of another move, only to find his situation worsened and access reduced.

The house offered by Barnet Homes is not in Barnet (it is in Enfield), miles away from Mostafa’s medical appointments, his five-year-old daughter’s school, and the family and support networks that Mostafa relies on. But even these concerns aside for a moment, there is nothing suitable about the property itself.

In spite of the facts, Barnet have decided that Mostafa is only a part-time wheelchair user, and that he only needs the wheelchair when he is outside of the house. They somehow came to this conclusion after reading the latest report from Mostafa’s occupational therapist, which includes the following passages:

  • “[Mostafa] reports having very limited confidence when mobilising without wheelchair. [He] described that when mobilising, his left leg can “collapse”, presenting a possible further falls risk, and this appears to be affecting his confidence to mobilise without use of his wheelchair.
  • [Mostafa] reported previous falls within the current and previous property, one of which he claimed had resulted in him becoming unconscious…
  • [Mostafa’s] medication regime also reportedly causes him significant dizziness and drowsiness, and the pain he experiences in the mornings does not abate for roughly 1.5 hours until his medication has taken effect.”

And were these quotes not evidence enough, they are corroborated by several other reports, by Mostafa’s GP, a local disability charity, and several other medical professionals and experts. Finally, that same occupational therapist report recommends that a new home “should feature doorways that are wide enough to allow [Mostafa] to mobilise independently in his wheelchair.” This is simply not the case at the new house and Barnet Homes claims there is simply no need for it to be.

When asked how they came to the conclusion that Mostafa was ‘able to mobilise within the house with the use of a cane,’ they could only say that ‘we make our assessments based on looking at the range of factors available to us.’ What specifically those factors were, and how the assessment came to so thoroughly contradict the statements about Mostafa’s need for a wheelchair-friendly home, remains shrouded in mystery. All the officials will say is that ‘we’re clearly not going to agree on the assessment,’ as though Mostafa’s ability to get in and out of rooms in his house was something that needed to be agreed upon!

Ultimately, because Barnet’s housing policy is so skewed towards finding any excuse to discharge people from its list, Mostafa accepted the place, but on the conditions that he will move once a series of basic health and safety questions have been adequately addressed, the main one being that the door frames are widened to allow his wheelchair to pass freely through them.

The coming days will determine the critical detail of the arrangement, though at this stage, Barnet expect Mostafa to move into a home that will require him to have twenty-four-hour adult support around to actually live in. They will not admit that this is the case, and though they have the power to discharge him from their housing list, they do not have the power to deny the realities of Mostafa’s disability.

The selective reading of Mostafa’s medical reports is unacceptable. We know that if they are doing this to him, they are inevitably doing the same to so many others. Their offer has been reluctantly accepted, but the details are still to be ironed out – and now is the moment when Barnet Homes needs to hear from all of us, so they know that they can’t simply pick-and-choose the facts they deem worthy of assessment and then decide what they are responsible for, based on hand-picked details, which they are unwilling to even reveal to the family involved.

Mostafa needs the following adaptations made to the property on offer, if it is going to be an acceptable place for him to live with his family:

  1. All ground floor door frames expanded to allow an independent wheelchair user to pass through easily,
  2. A stair lift so Mostafa can reach his daughter’s second floor bedroom.

Until these adaptations (as well as those already agreed to by Barnet) are complete, Mostafa would only be able to live in the new property with twenty-four hour assistance, for both practical needs and in case of emergencies. This is not acceptable.

We held a noisy protest outside Barnet Homes today, but we need to keep the pressure up. They need to know that London is watching them and will continue to stand with Mostafa.

Send Troy Henshall [Troy.Henshall@barnet.gov.uk], Interim Chief Executive of the Barnet Group (which owns Barnet Homes) an email right away, and tell him that Barnet needs to acknowledge the true state of Mostafa’s health, and then accept exactly what their responsibilities are.

Demand that they do exactly what is needed to make the new property accessible, and that they support Mostafa’s right to remain at Sweets Way until they can demonstrate, without doubt, that he will be safe and able to live independently in his new home!

Brutal attack by new private security firm!

On Wednesday night, new security guards, Dorman, were caught on video violently attacking occupiers. CALL THEM NOW AND DEMAND THE GUARDS ARE FIRED!

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At about 8pm on Wednesday, private security attacked two occupiers from Sweetstopia, who were wheeling a shopping trolly across the estate.

None of us ever wanted our campaign to protect our homes to come to this, but those with money have clearly decided that the only way to protect their investment, is through violence. Wednesday a new security firm, Dorman, arrived on site, and within hours had sparked the first outbreak of violence in six months of peaceful campaigning.

After a young man and woman from the Sweetstopia occupation were violently wrestled to the ground by security guards without cause, dozens of occupiers came to their defence. Dorman security began to attack and detain them (without having the legal authority to do so), closing a group in behind the temporary Heras fencing placed around many of the empty houses on the estate.

We called the police, who arrived and moderated between us and Dorman, but not before one of the occupiers was physically beaten by security, leaving him with a bleeding head injury and was eventually sent to hospital.

Even after the police left, Dorman again assaulted more occupiers until we called the police once again.

During the attacks, Dorman guards covered up, shone lights at, and threw away cameras and phones that were filming their brutality. None of the security had badges on display either, which is illegal.

BUT WE MANAGED TO FILM THEIR ILLEGAL VIOLENCE!

Call Dorman NOW and demand that their staff at Sweets Way are IMMEDIATELY FIRED.

Call them on 0208 951 4909 or 07957 360 185.

Video by In My Way To Free: http://inmywaytobefree.com/

You win some, you lose some

Our community house is now facing imminent eviction, we shut down Barnet Homes for 2 hours, a judge told Barnet Council that they can’t use high court bailiffs against Mostafa, and we were told that ‘no county court bailiffs will touch Sweets Way with a barge pole’!

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COMMUNITY HOUSE FACING EVICTION
Thursday began with an early start, prepping for and heading to the courts in Finchley Central in the rain. Our five-month old community occupation was up against a possession order. We knew there was precious little legal defence for our presence in the house, since most judges don’t seem as impressed as us that we have used our occupation to reinforce a powerful community in the face of deliberate attempts to destroy it, but we had to give it a go.

Unsurprisingly, we lost. Quickly. And the judge accepted the claimant’s assertion that High Court (not County Court) bailiffs would be required to remove us, since, according to the claimant’s barrister, ‘no county court bailiffs will touch Sweets Way with a barge pole.’ This comment was probably the only silver lining of a pretty bleak morning, and seems to be an indication that we’re doing something right. We assume all the county court bailiffs in London are taking a principled stand in solidarity with our struggle for housing justice by refusing to evict us.

WE SHUT DOWN BARNET HOMES!
IMG_20150827_124448From the courts, we went to Barnet Homes to protest the treatment Mostafa and his family have faced, and to make a series of demands that Barnet Homes needs to meet immediately to address the family’s needs. We shut down the building, at both entrances at several points over a two or three hour period, making crystal clear that if they continue to fail Mostafa and so many others, we will continue to make business-as-usual impossible for them.

MOSTAFA’S TEMPORARY COURTROOM VICTORY
Then, just as we were leaving, we heard from Mostafa, who had spent the morning at the Royal Courts of Justice, applying for a stay of execution on Barnet Council’s decision to allow High Court bailiffs to evict him without offering a time and date. What we all thought would have been a bureaucratic formality, turned out to be a major victory for the family and the campaign. Mostafa saw a judge, who was able to see Barnet’s utter lack of sensitivity over his needs as a person with disabilities and made clear that the Council would need to immediately cease any pending High Court bailiff actions and find a date to have a full and proper hearing to justify why they think they needed to do so in the first place.

This means that there will be at least weeks, possibly months, before the family have to leave their home, if Barnet continues to fail to offer them a suitable alternative. It also mean Mostafa will finally get a day in court to explain why he feels a High Court bailiff eviction is entirely unfair and disproportionate to the situation, after the decision to use High Court bailiffs against him was taken in secret, without his knowledge.

For once in the campaign, the justice system actually ruled on the side of justice! We won’t get too used to this, but it certainly helped balance out the legal ruling against our community home.

WE NEED REINFORCEMENTS
For the immediate future, we need people who are able to come stay the night at 76 Oakleigh Road North, to be able to help defend this crucial pocket of community strength we’ve held onto since Annington began evicting families from the estate.

If you think you can come along, please drop us an email on: sweetswayresists[AT]gmail.com

Sweets Way Community House Under Threat: We Need Your Help

Sweets Way Resists, one of London’s loudest housing protests, has come under threat, after residents were issued with a possession claim on the campaign’s base, 76 Oakleigh Road North.

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The Community House, as number 76 is known, has been a meeting point for evicted families and their supporters for nearly six months. But it is more than that. The Community House is a place of refuge, where parents, and their children, can feel at home amidst a time of great turmoil in their lives. We need your help to prevent this refuge being taken away from the people who so desperately need it.

Sweets Way is a large housing estate in London N20. With 142 fantastic family homes, it could comfortably house over 500 people. But that’s not what’s happening. Instead, the families who lived there were forced out and evicted as part of a policy of social cleansing, which will see luxury homes – and a small percentage of nominally ‘affordable’ (but grossly unaffordable) ones – built on the site.

The estate, owned by the Ministry of Defence, was leased for free to a British tax exile who has openly said that he saves money by not visiting his family. In contrast, the former residents of Sweets Way have very little but spare nothing in fighting to keep their community together, and to preserve their families’ sanity.

Guy Hands, the tax exile behind the developer, Annington Homes, left Kent for Guernsey by choice and because of greed. The working class families of Sweets Way don’t have the luxury of choice. They’ve been moved around London and beyond like pawns on a chess-set, breaking hearts and risking jobs and schooling. Together, Annington, the MOD and Barnet Council, have made these families’ lives a living hell.

The Residents of Sweets Way Talk about the Community House (scroll to the bottom to see how you can help)

Anna:
To watch your children stressing about the future with such intensity that they’re crying at night and asking what’s going to happen with us tomorrow, where we’re going to live, it’s absolutely heartbreaking. And the reason for our pain is very selfish. The people who are in charge of caring for the majority simply care more for profit than for people. How can you explain that to a child? As much as I’d like to spare my children, how can I protect them from seeing neighbours being dragged out of their homes? How do you explain that?

The only explanation is that unfortunately there is something wrong with this world and we need to fight to change that. The Community House made our children believe in humanity again, because we’ve encountered so many amazing people through our struggle, and the children have learnt that there are good people, selflessly committed to changing the world to make it better, and that there are many of them. If you are one of them, please stand with us.

The Community House is not only a place of struggle and campaigning, but it’s also a place for our families to recover and support each other after everything we’ve been through. Families from other communities also come here to find solace and understanding. Please don’t take this away from us. We are not the ones in the wrong here. We are only fighting for the rights of ordinary people to have somewhere to live.

Unless you’ve been violently evicted from your home and deprived of all power over something so basic as the roof over your head, it’s hard to understand how such an experience feels. I never thought this would happen to me, none of us did. Our struggle may sound like a faraway prospect for you, but believe us, we once felt exactly the same.

Andy and Zlatka:
We lived in Sweets Way for five years. Since the eviction we’ve been through such terrible stress and sleepless nights, not knowing whether we’ll have a roof over our heads.

We both work in a hospital, but renting a flat is impossible without our wages being topped up by housing benefit. The few units of so-called ‘affordable’ housing that Annington are going to build on this site would take up more than 90% of our salaries. In what way is that affordable?

Please join us, we need your help to save the Community House and keep our campaign and our spirits strong. We never thought we’d be in this situation; we’ve worked our whole lives. It could happen to you.  

Sometimes our seven-year-old son cries at night about losing his friends and having to move schools, on top of all the housing nightmare and uncertainty. The Community House is a home to him.

This is everyone’s struggle and we need to fight it now before it reaches the point of no return. We’re fighting even though we’re tired. If you have any strength at all, join our struggle – for us, for yourselves, for the children.

How you can help:

To defend our Community House, we would be very grateful if you could do one or both of the following:

  1. Come to court with us on the morning of 27th August 2015 to offer moral support, and to let the authorities know that a lot of people disagree with their policy of social cleansing. Please bring banners or make placards if you can, but your presence is enough and would mean so much to us. More details will be available from @SweetsWayN20 or on Facebook Sweets Way Resists, or by emailing sweetswayresists@gmail.com. The address of the court is:Barnet County Court
    St Mary’s Court
    Regents Park Road
    Finchley Central
    London
    N3 1BQ
  2. Write to the following people, telling them that you object to their plans to evict us from our Community House, and to stop the land being used for profit. We’ve included a draft letter (below) for you to copy and paste if you don’t have time to write your own. Please make sure you include your full name and postal address when writing or emailing. And, if you’re a Barnet resident, please state this clearly in your letter.
    1. Annington Homes
      1. 1 James St, London, W1U 1DR
      2. media@annington.co.uk
    2. MOD (Secretary of State for Defence)
      1. Michael Fallon MP, Secretary of State for Defence, Whitehall Buildings, Whitehall, London SW1A 2HB
      2. michael.fallon.mp@parliament.uk
    3. Barnet Homes
      1. Troy Henshall, Barnet Homes, Barnet House, 1255 High Road, London, N20 0EJ
      2. troy.henshall@barnet.gov.uk
    4. Sweets Way’s MP (in the Chipping Barnet Constituency)
      1. Theresa Villiers MP, 163 High Street, Barnet, Herts, EN5 5SU
      2. theresa@theresavilliers.co.uk
    5. The Prime Minister
      1. David Cameron PM, 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA
      2. Use this form to email: https://email.number10.gov.uk/
    6. Housing Ombudsman Service
      1. Housing Ombudsman Service, 81 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4HN
      2. info@housing-ombudsman.org.uk, or use this online complaint form: http://www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk/resolve-a-complaint/getting-help-from-the-housing-ombudsman/
    7. Mayor of London
      1. Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, Greater London Authority, City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, More London, London, SE1 2AA
      2. mayor@london.gov.uk

If we don’t act now we’ll end up with a city where 20 people crammed into one house will be the new norm. A city in which essential workers can no longer afford to live. A city that holds no future for our children.

A city that will fall apart.

Thank you for your support, from the families of Sweets Way

Suggested draft for writing to the people above – please remember that if you are a Barnet resident, you should open by mentioning this in the letter, “As a Barnet resident, I am writing to urge…”. And include your full name and postal address.

Dear X

I’m writing to urge you to stop the eviction of Sweets Way Resists from their protest occupation at 76 Oakleigh Road North, London, N20 9EZ.

I stand with the former residents of Sweets Way N20 in their fight for homes for all. The way these families have been treated – forcibly evicted and dispersed around London (and beyond) – has made their lives a living hell. This treatment is a direct result of a policy of social cleansing that puts profit before people.

76 Oakleigh Road North is affectionately known by former residents of Sweets Way as the ‘Community House’. As well as a protest occupation, it has become something of a refuge for evicted families, somewhere where they can find solace and understanding.

The residents and their supporters have been issued with a possession claim and been summoned to Barnet County Court on 27th August 2015.

I also ask that you use your powers to immediately terminate Annington’s lease on the Sweets Way estate. Give the land to public ownership so that the working class families who lived there, and who so badly need a home, can return.

The former residents of Sweets Way, and their supporters, have the right to protest. I ask that you defend this right, and do everything in your power to prevent their eviction.

Yours sincerely

FIRST NAME SURNAME

ADDRESS 1
TOWN
POSTCODE

EMAIL ADDRESS (if you have one)

Bailiffs sent away! Mostafa still at Sweets Way!

On Monday, people kept a family from being evicted and pushed a council to reverse the decision that would have left them homeless. But we need to keep up the pressure to keep Mostafa and the family safe.

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Photo by Hannah Nicklin

On Sunday night, many of us didn’t go to sleep. Bailiffs were due at 46 Sweets Way and because we had seen what Mostafa and his family had gone through, and we had seen them failed over and over again by the various systems that are meant to protect them, we knew we needed to prepare with them to stay in their home.

We were prepared to do everything peaceful within our power to stop High Court bailiffs from entering the home of the last family at Sweets Way and making them homeless. Some of us planned to take photos and document the experience, others were prepared to take civil disobedience and face arrest.

But whatever kind of action we spent the night before preparing to do, we prepared to do it because it was right.

As it turned out, there were enough of us there that sending away the bailiffs proved to only require a very passive form of resistance: being there! Enough of us, even, that they didn’t show their faces or even make an attempt to breach the gauntlet of more than 60 people (including allies from Our West Hendon, Barnet Housing Action, Haringey Housing Action Group, Barnet Alliance for Public Services and Black Dissidents) and an extensive array of amateur barricading.

In fact, we only even found out that the bailiffs had come and gone when we called Barnet Council’s lawyers. We asked if the bailiffs were still scheduled to arrive and were told that the two of them that had been dispatched knew immediately they were no match for our collective power, and left. (They didn’t use exactly those words…).

You could feel the sense of collective power in the air – we knew what we had achieved, and the energy was electric! A group of regular people had sent away the bailiffs and kept a family in their home! And we knew we would be able to do it again.

Better yet, as Barnet had been punishing the family over the a small amount of rent arrears accrued since the Council unexpectedly cut their housing benefit, they received a message this afternoon informing them that their housing benefit had been reinstated, retroactive a month ago. This will address their arrears and allow Barnet to once again own up to their responsibility to house the family appropriately.

This is a clear victory spurred by our collective action to highlight the Council’s many failures to Mostafa, and the number of media requests that came off the back of our action. Once again, Barnet need to find the family somewhere to go. And it’s up to us to make sure they have a home until the point where they have an alternative that truly meets their needs.

This will require a lot of work from all of us, preparing to fight off the bailiff threat whenever it rears its ugly head. High Court bailiffs don’t normally offer a time or date when they are coming, and are entitled to use physical force to enter and remove families from a house. Because of this, Mostafa and the family remain barricaded in and ready for an attack.

We need to be there with them.

We have a strong contingent of occupiers staying around Sweets Way at the moment, but we need more people who can stay there (or who live very locally) in the coming days, to ensure an initial line of defence when bailiffs do return. It would be tragic if all our hard work yesterday was lost because a few of us slept late one day.

Get in touch if you live within in a few minutes of the estate, or can come stay over during the coming days. sweetswayresists[AT]gmail[DOT]com / 07812 372 298

We are all inspired by what we were able to do yesterday – let’s be sure it continues to grow!

PS – having made it through many months of intense campaigning without any way of receiving cash donations beyond the bits of cash visitors would sometimes pass along, we have set-up a PayPal account and would appreciate any help in covering some of the extra costs that several of us incurred, personally, during the People’s Regeneration Show Home project. Thank you so much!

PPS – We are lucky to have a whole bunch of pics from yesterday that have been shared with us by Hannah Nicklin!

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ALL OUT FOR SWEETS WAY!

The kitchen of the show home

In the last 48 hours, everything has ramped up at Sweets Way for what is likely to be a major confrontation between those who believe in the right to housing and community, and those who would see London cleansed of all but the wealthiest.

Annington has sent in contractors, Cuddy, to prepare the estate for demolition. Fences have begun to be erected around large swathes of the estate and contractors and security guards have begun to more actively intimidate us.

Yesterday two bailiffs, with two policemen in tow, attempted to deliver court orders to occupiers. However, through a strong showing of people power, we sent them away, peacefully preventing the delivery of the notices.

Meanwhile, Mostafa and his family – the last remaining household on Sweets Way – have been told by Barnet Council’s solicitors that High Court bailiffs will be coming to evict the family on Monday morning.

We will do all that we can do to keep Mostafa in his home. He has been through such mistreatment already, with Barnet repeatedly failing to take on their duty of care for him, due to his disability, and we need a very strong presence on Monday morning to send away the highest level of bailiffs the courts can send.

Can you join us to stand up to the bailiffs on Monday morning, 8am at 46 Sweets Way?

In the meantime, we are opening up the estate this weekend to show off the People’s Regeneration Show Home, the independent nation of Sweetstopia and the state of the estate as a whole.

Join us Saturday, 2-5pm for show home tours, and stick around if you can to help prepare for eviction resistance!

This is truly crunch time for the campaign to save our estate. We are up against giants, but we’ve managed to win some crucial victories, in spite of the odds.

That said, we need your help. The days ahead may decide if Sweets Way will continue to exist as more than a memory of its former residents and those it sparked the imagination of, through our refusal to go quietly into the pages of a future history book.

So come down! If our fight has inspired you, come join us this weekend and Monday morning!

We can still win! But it’s up to all of us to prove it!

D.I.O. Regeneration: Proving that we can Do It Ourselves

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As of last Thursday, Sweets Way Resists had succeeded in regenerating 1/142nd of the Sweets Way estate. We did so in just six days and for about £370, using a lot of volunteer labour and a mix of found and donated materials. We hope that the People’s Regeneration Show Home will encourage others around London and beyond to come together and reclaim – and when necessary rebuild – homes where they are, rather than leaving them in the hands of those who simply see them as investments.

Beyond inspiring others with a little taste of what regular people are capable of doing to a smashed up building, we also showed that we can do Annington’s job – regeneration – better than they can. We’ve shown that the story of private development offering the only route to quality affordable homes is a convenient myth that facilitates the decimation of socially-rented housing stock, for the benefit of private profits. There IS another way.

Remember what we’ve done in this past week every time you hear a council, developer or social housing provider argue that it would be ‘too expensive’ to do anything other than just sell-off public homes or leave regeneration in the hands of the private sector! Why not put that argument to the test?

By our math, if we keep up our regeneration plans at last week’s rate, we could make the entire estate re-inhabitable for a mere £52,540. Which is considerably less than we’re sure Annington have earmarked for the project, or what Barnet Council spend each year on housing benefit given to private landlords.

Needless to say, their regeneration plans are slated to be considerably more expensive and will yield far fewer units below market rent than the current 142 houses. Annington will argue that none were ever social housing, but doing so is simply a distraction from the fact that they were leased as such for the past six years, and so in practice, their regen plans will drastically reduce the number of houses available to those who can’t afford full market rent from 142, to 59. (And those 59 are in themselves a mix of so-called ‘affordable’ homes that will cost up to 80% of market rent, and part-buy-part-let schemes, neither of which will be accessible to the majority of former residents.)

When we went into 153 Sweets Way, its waste water piping had been deliberately destroyed; its toilet and sink were smashed to bits; its upstairs windows were left open, letting rain in. Very few of us have any specialist skills or experience in DIY or renovation work, yet with just a bit of skilled help from a plumber, an electrician and a cabinetmaker, we fixed-up a building that had not simply been left to deteriorate over time, but had been deliberately made uninhabitable by its owners.

Most of us agree that the council should be offering homes to those who need them – but given their abject failure to protect critical housing stock in the midst of a housing crisis, it’s up to all of us to protect and secure the homes we need. Until they prove they can do their job, we’ll do what is needed to keep good homes and strong communities from being torn apart.

We’d call this D.I.Y. but it is more collective, more collaborative than that. None of us could have turned this home around on our own, but together, we can outdo one of the largest property owners in the country at their own game.

This is a D.I.O project – Doing It Ourselves – and we hope that others will take it and run with it wherever they are facing the sell-off and demolition of their homes. It’s up to all of us to find our way out of this housing crisis – let’s continue to prove that we can do it ourselves!

Come to 153 Sweets Way (N20 0NX) to get a sense of what we’re capable of, and learn more about how you might create a People’s Regeneration Show Home on your own estate!

On Saturday (August 8) we’re holding an open day on the estate. You can join us for:

– Our weekly street stall, 11-1 in front of Waitrose on the Whetstone High Road
– Tours of the People’s Regeneration Show Home and it’s smashed up counterpart, the Annington Degeneration Show Home, next door, 2-3pm @ 153 Sweets Way
– An open meeting hosted by Sweets Way Resists and Sweetstopia after the tours looking at ways to protect our estate from demolition.

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