Barnet and Annington: Partners in social cleansing

Friday was a busy day for all of us here at Sweets Way. At lunch time many of us headed into Central London to make another attempt to deliver our previously-rejected open letter to Annington’s £2.5million/year Chief Executive, James Hopkins. Once again when they saw us coming, they locked the doors to the building, inconveniencing their staff, as well as those of all the other companies that share the building. And all over not wanting to see a letter written by a community they are trying to destroy!

10411736_679610915498887_7613767584106975262_nFrom there, we headed to Barnet Homes again, just across the road from the Sweets Way estate, to give leaflets to employees as they came out of the building, and to try to speak to someone there about addressing the collective homelessness problem that the Council’s approval of the Sweets Way demolition was creating. However, when we arrived, they locked the doors after only a few of the group had gone in, locking some of us inside, and some of us outside, separating parents and children. When we tried to get in, the security began physically shoving and threatening us. It was scary, there were tears, and the police were called… against us! But we stood our ground and did get to speak to the Deputy Chief Executive of Barnet Homes, who agreed to meet with us on Monday morning!

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In brief, on a quiet Friday afternoon, we managed to give grief to both of the institutions that have orchestrated the social cleansing of our estate, and untold stress in all of our lives. Annington are making the profits, but Barnet is refusing to offer viable alternative homes to those being turfed out in the name of Annington’s profits. We will let neither rest until they can offer answers acceptable to those still living at Sweets Way, and those who have been forced off into horrendous emergency accommodation.

We hope Friday was a reminder to both Annington and Barnet that we are not going away!

PS – if you can join us outside the courts on Monday morning as we fight Annington’s attempt to evict our social centre protest, your support would be massively appreciated!

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Court adjourned!: Another week to fight social cleansing!

Impromptu march by residents and supporters of Sweets Way Resists, following the adjournment announcement.

Impromptu march by residents and supporters of Sweets Way Resists, following the adjournment announcement.

When a giant box arrived at the gate of the occupied Sweets Way social centre on Thursday around 4:30pm, we were all a bit stunned. Inside were a dozen or so copies of a two-finger thick document. These documents were the court papers from Annington Properties Limited, trying to get us removed from our current occupation, via a possession order hearing on Monday, March 23, 10am.

There was a lot to get through, and by the time we realised what was happening, the working day was done. Friday was spent bouncing between advice providers, but none included barristers who were qualified to make an out-of-hours request to the court to have the case delayed, given the lack of preparation time given to us.

Even without that, we went to Barnet County Court this morning, with at least 50 supporters who made the trek up to Barnet, handing out Sweets Way sweets and leaflets, and getting people to sign our petition. The twenty-minute slot we’d been allocated wasn’t nearly enough, but after an hour or so highlighting the complexities of the case, the judge finally agreed to grant us another week to get our arguments together and return next Monday to take on Annington properly.

This is a real win! A week may not seem like long, but the last two weeks have seen:

…With this in mind, we intend to make the most of the coming week!

We have fought to create a safe space for our community, and we will not give it up quietly, so ‘regeneration’ can carry on, unimpeded. We will continue to shine a light on the social cleansing at the heart of Barnet’s housing policy and Annington’s ‘redevelopment’ plans!

Come join us! It’s usually buzzing here between 4 and 6pm on weekdays, if you feel like popping by at 60 Sweets Way 🙂

And be sure to join the new event page to say you’ll be coming along to the courts again next week to help us fight!

https://www.facebook.com/events/433124830197068/

An open letter to the Chief Executive of Annington from Sweets Way Resists


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This morning nearly 20 Sweets Way residents – including children and teenagers – arrived at Annington Homes’ Central London offices to give a letter to Annington’s Chief Exectuve James Hopkins (who, it is worth noting, makes over £2.5million a year to socially cleanse communities like ours). When the children arrived, security locked the door and hung-up on us every time we tried to call them.

This is the letter we finally pushed through the mail slot, though police told us that Annington told them that they would not receive our letter. So here it is for the rest of you!

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TO: Mr James Hopkins, Chief Executive, Annington

Dear Mr Hopkins –

We are a group of concerned residents and ex-residents of the Sweets Way estate in Barnet and our supporters. We, the people who have lived here and made this our community, feel our needs have been completely ignored by your plans to ‘regenerate’ our estate.

Since you announced that your 2nd planning application was given the go-ahead by Barnet Council, our lives have been turned upside down. Some of us have been uprooted from our homes, others are holding on to them with everything we’ve got, struggling with the daily stress of not knowing what lies ahead.

Your choices are physically, emotionally and financially affecting us for the worse. Our lives and our children’s lives have been thrown into chaos, whether we are those still on the estate, or those moved into far-flung emergency accommodation.

Our kids struggle to get to classes from emergency flats several boroughs away; the travel required is expensive and exhausting; we live each day uncertain if bailiffs might come knocking at our doors.

We have searched high and low to find alternative housing that is appropriate for our health, our work and our children’s education. We have repeatedly hit dead ends, knocking our heads against the walls with both Barnet Homes and countless estate agents. There is nothing out there for us, yet these perfectly good homes are facing demolition.

You can blame Barnet Homes for our situations, but you are the ones who have made the choice to bulldoze the perfectly good homes we’ve got, and replace them with ones that none of us will be able to afford. The utter lack of truly affordable housing in your planning applications demonstrates that you have chosen to put your own profits over all of our lives.

There are countless planning options that your company could have explored, that would have kept us together, but you chose to ignore those of us that your website claims that you ‘bring life to.’ The content of your two planning applications makes perfectly clear what you think of those of us who live here; that if we can’t afford full market rent, than we simply have no right to a home and a community. This is nothing more than social cleansing and we will bring back life to our estate together.

Thankfully we are not alone; we have supported one another through these terrible times and grown closer as a community. We have also met supporters and allies from other housing campaigns around Barnet and London, and we are committed to standing together to fight social cleansing, across the borough and the city. We would like to invite you come to Sweets Way and see the community you are breaking up, and the homes your plans will leave empty. Maybe these buildings aren’t enough for your tastes, but for us they are still home.

We have occupied one of the recently empty homes at 60 Sweets Way and turned it into a buzzing social centre where we can organise together and support one another. We’d like you to come see this space in action and experience the situation at Sweets Way from our perspective.

We hope you will take our lives and our community as seriously as you would your own.

Sincerely,

Sweets Way Resists

sweetswayresists@gmail.com / 07751687326