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.
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)
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:
- 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 email@example.com. The address of the court is:Barnet County Court
St Mary’s Court
Regents Park Road
- 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.
- Annington Homes
- 1 James St, London, W1U 1DR
- MOD (Secretary of State for Defence)
- Michael Fallon MP, Secretary of State for Defence, Whitehall Buildings, Whitehall, London SW1A 2HB
- Barnet Homes
- Troy Henshall, Barnet Homes, Barnet House, 1255 High Road, London, N20 0EJ
- Sweets Way’s MP (in the Chipping Barnet Constituency)
- Theresa Villiers MP, 163 High Street, Barnet, Herts, EN5 5SU
- The Prime Minister
- David Cameron PM, 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA
- Use this form to email: https://email.number10.gov.uk/
- Housing Ombudsman Service
- Housing Ombudsman Service, 81 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4HN
- firstname.lastname@example.org, or use this online complaint form: http://www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk/resolve-a-complaint/getting-help-from-the-housing-ombudsman/
- Mayor of London
- Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, Greater London Authority, City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, More London, London, SE1 2AA
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.
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.
FIRST NAME SURNAME
EMAIL ADDRESS (if you have one)