People power doesn’t wait to vote

IMG_20150506_161432

The response to the call-out for Juliet on Monday was amazing! More than 1000 of you shared and Tweeted the blog and dozens more wrote to the local MP and councillor, in less than 2 days! Today we saw the results. Massive thanks to everyone who came out and braved the torrential rains, as well as those that sent emails in support!

First, Juliet, who had been discharged by Barnet Homes with her four kids, was offered a three bedroom house in the borough! She hasn’t been able to see it yet, but we know that without all our voices online and outside, she wouldn’t have had the offer.

IMG_20150506_183554

Unfortunately, the other two families who had meetings with Barnet Homes today didn’t have the same response (though their cases were not yet as dire as Juliet’s had been). While Juliet’s offer was a big win, considering the harsh wording she had received in her latest rejection letter from Barnet Homes, we knew that it was only ever a stage in the campaign, and that the dignity finally afforded to her family must be the default, and not the result of mass public outcry.

…So we blockaded the A1000 – London’s main commuter road – outside of Barnet Homes’ offices at 4pm to protest the wider social cleansing patterns we’ve seen with families being pushed beyond the capital and forced through immeasurable stress, so companies like Annington Properties can bulldoze good houses, to make way for high-end flats!

Following the blockade, we marched through Sweets Way and broke Annington’s undemocratic injunction against political protest on the estate! This injunction should never have been granted in the first place, and since we were walking around in the road with banners anyway, we thought: ‘why not break that stupid injunction while we’re at it?’

IMG_20150506_163322

So we did. Then we went back to our occupied social centre (which will be two months old on Friday, by the way!), drank tea and discussed the day’s events. We also got to know lots of new faces who had responded to the call-out online and were all-the-more-committed to getting involved in the campaign, having felt a bit of what people power can achieve.

Apparently there’s an election tomorrow and it’s a big deal and stuff, but when we know both of the main parties are committed to the kinds of destructive policies that have created the mess we are fighting, it is clear that we are not going to vote our ways into the homes we need. People power doesn’t wait to vote; it is the daily vote we are always free to cast.

Today we had a partial victory – on a day when, if we hadn’t come together, a family would be at risk of being turfed out on the street. In the days ahead – with our growing numbers and profile – we are sure to have more, as fight alongside other Sweets Way families that continue to be moved around like furniture.

Tomorrow, some of us will vote, some of us may not, but we’ll all be here together on Friday, fighting for our homes and for a London that is truly a city for all, not simply those who can afford the kinds of properties Annington is destroying Sweets Way to build.

If you want to get involved, pop by the social centre and say hello this weekend as we celebrate two months of occupation!IMG_20150506_162318

CALL-OUT: Barnet to make Juliet and four kids homeless a day before the election!

IMG-20150504-WA0001

Juliet and her youngest son

This Wednesday, Juliet and her four children have been told to leave the emergency accommodation they were moved to in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, following their eviction from Sweets Way. What makes this truly awful is that Barnet Homes have declared that they have no responsibility to help the family, leaving them with nowhere to go in London that Juliet’s salary can afford.

***** Can you join us on Wednesday at 1:45pm outside Barnet Homes (Barnet House, 1255 High Road, London, N20 0EJ), as Juliet meets with them to argue her case?

***** If you can’t make it in person, can you send an email or make a phone call to Councillor Richard Cornelius (Leader of Barnet Council) and MP Theresa Villiers, telling them that this is an unacceptable way to treat their constituents? (Details and template letter below)

Even though Juliet works in Whetstone and her eldest daughter is studying for her GCSEs, Barnet Council have essentially told her to get out of Barnet.

In a 4-page letter last week, Barnet Homes told Juliet that because she had turned down a property that would have been entirely unliveable for her family, she was making herself ‘intentionally homeless.’ In the letter, they sent four links to properties available to people claiming housing benefit. When Juliet checked the links there was not a single property available between them!

Juliet will be meeting with the Interim Chief Executive of Barnet Homes on Wednesday afternoon and we want to have a strong presence outside when she does, so they know that the public spotlight is on them the day before the election.

If Barnet can destroy 150 homes that people have been living in (they approved Annington’s development plans), then they can also find local accommodation in the borough that those families can afford, within reach of their work and school commitments!

So join us on Wednesday, 1:45pm and send an email to Cllr. Cornelius and MP Villiers, telling them that Barnet Homes’ treatment of Juliet’s family is completely unacceptable. They need to feel the pressure the day before the election, so let’s make sure we are flooding their inboxes with our collective anger at the ways they are treating poor and working class constituents!

Sincerely,

Sweets Way Resists

________________

Here are the contact details for Richard Cornelius and Theresa Villiers, and a template letter you can adapt and send them. (Be sure to mention if you are from their constituency, as they have an obligation to respond to you then).

MP Theresa Villiers
0208 449 7345
theresa@theresavilliers.co.uk

Councillor Richard Cornelius
0208 359 2059
cllr.r.cornelius@barnet.gov.uk

________________________

Cllr Cornelius / Ms Villiers,

RE: One of the 150 evicted households of Sweets Way

The disarray, distress, disruption, turmoil, trauma, and sheer terror wreaked upon the residents of the Sweets way Estate is set to reach a peak this week with another household facing imminent homelessness.

I’m sure you will agree that it is not acceptable for Barnet Homes / Barnet Council to allow the eviction of Juliet and her four children from their temporary accommodation to face certain street homelessness. It is probable that this would result in Juliet losing her job, and her children being taken into the care system.

We ask that you urgently:

  • Ensure Barnet Homes arrange provision of suitable local accommodation for the family
  • Conduct an urgent review into Barnet Council’s Housing Policies
  • Meet with the residents of Sweets Way (along with a representative from Annington Homes) to discuss options for a long term solution for them
  • Instruct an assessment of the potential 3,000 empty residential properties in the Borough and ways we can bring them back into use.

We realise that you no longer need to seek to win the votes of 150 households that have recently been evicted from your ward/constituency, but we hope that you appreciate that these people belong in their community and should not be treated in the appalling manner in which they have.

Thank you,

A person who cares about the people of the community of the Sweets Way

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!

IMG_20150327_171950

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.