CALL-OUT: Court solidarity with those arrested at SW eviction

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JOIN US TO STAND UP AGAINST SOCIAL CLEANSING AND THE CRIMINALISATION OF PEACEFUL PROTEST!

WHERE? Willesdon Magistrates Court, (448 High Road, London, NW10 2DZ)
WHEN? Friday, December 18, 1pm

FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1737158869851606/

On 23 and 24 of September, the Sweets Way estate was evicted by dozens of High Court bailiffs and 7 vans of London Met police. Nearly a hundred occupiers of dozens of homes were turfed out, as was Mostafa, the last original resident of the estate. Supporters peacefully attempted to stop Mostafa’s eviction, many of whom were arrested. Fifteen now face criminal charges for obstructing High Court Enforcement Officers.

Their trial is scheduled to take place over three days, from 10am on Wednesday, December 16, through Friday, December 18. Supporters are encouraged to attend the hearings each day, but we are calling a solidarity rally outside Willesdon Magistrates Court for 1pm on Friday, December 18 to take a stand with those who were arrested for standing up to social cleansing.

Stay tuned for more details…

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

THURSDAY! Two key ways to defend Sweets Way

We’re fighting in court for our community house at 9am, then doing a lunchtime protest at Barnet Homes to demand decent accommodation for Mostafa and the last family left on Sweets Way. CAN YOU JOIN US?

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KEY INFORMATION FOR THURSDAY, AUGUST 27:

Sweets Way Resists courtroom solidarity
9am – 12pm
St Marys Court
Regents Park Road, N3
Near Finchley Central tube (Northern Line)

Barnet Homes Lunchtime Protest: Give Mostafa a home!
12:30pm – 2:00pm
Barnet House
1255 High Road, N20
Near Totteridge and Whetstone tube (Northern Line)

Two weeks ago we got notice that after five months in our second occupation house, we are going to have to go to court to defend our protest there. After months of bungling between Annington and the Ministry of Defence as to who is responsible for us being there, the MoD apparently agreed to take us to court over a home that Annington owns but lets back to the Ministry.

The community house at 76 Oakleigh Road North is our base of operations. We’re fully aware that the law will always defend private property rights over our rights to protest and to homes, but we need a strong showing outside and inside the courts to highlight that the law has positioned itself on the wrong side of justice.

CAN YOU JOIN US AT THE COURTS AT 9:00am?

After the courts, whatever the verdict, we will be marching on Barnet Homes, across the road from Sweets Way, to demand that Mostafa and his family – who have been barricaded into their home for over two weeks, bravely resisting their eviction – are properly rehoused.

Mostafa uses a wheelchair, following a spinal injury incurred working as a carer for the elderly three years ago, and has been bounced between inappropriate temporary accommodation by Barnet Homes ever since.

Just today (Wednesday), Barnet Homes made Mostafa an offer of a multi-level house in Enfield, miles away from his hospital appointments. It was also a 4 bedroom property (the family only needs 3 bedrooms) so will inevitably be well beyond their price range, given what housing benefit is allowed to pay. So in essence, this is a non-offer, designed to let Barnet Homes tell the media tomorrow as we protest outside their offices, that they have carried out their duty to the family, and that they must leave Sweets Way immediately.

This is of course utter bollocks. For years Barnet have had information about Mostafa’s health needs, yet they made this ‘offer’ a day before we are due to protest at their offices. We once again make the following demands of Barnet:

  • Provide SUITABLE housing for the family, based on the needs
  • Immediately reclassify Mostafa from Band Three to Band One housing priority, based on the provided information about his health needs, his children’s needs and the ongoing cumulative impacts of his mistreatment by the Council
  • STOP the current high court bailiff eviction process until Mostafa has been moved into SUITABLE alternative housing
  • Adhere to the LAW to assess Mostafa and others like him, who are at risk of homelessness, BEFORE they are made homeless
  • STOP the sell-off/give-away of public housing stock, and the approval of home demolitions, until the families of Barnet are properly served by Barnet’s social housing provision.

We would also like to clarify that the family have NOT given Barnet Homes permission to discuss details of their case with the media, though they have done just that, breaching the family’s right to privacy.

Because of the horrible treatment they’ve received, and the lack of alternatives made available to them, the family have vowed not to leave 46 Sweets Way until they are offered something that meets Mostafa’s needs. They have been bravely resisting eviction with the help of dozens of supporters for over two weeks since High Court bailiffs were first sent round to chuck the family out on August 10, but were sent away by our resistance.

JOIN US AT BARNET HOMES FROM 12:30 – 2:00pm TO MAKE SURE BARNET HOMES FEELS THE PRESSURE OVER THE LUNCH BREAK.

YOU CAN ALSO TWEET @BARNETHOMES OR WRITE ON THE COUNCIL’S FACEBOOK WALL TO TELL THEM TO LIVE UP TO THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES TO THE FAMILY.

 

ACTION CALLOUT: Stand with the last Sweets Way family!

COURTROOM SOLIDARITY NEEDED!

Where: County Court at Royal Courts of Justice,
Thomas More Building, The Strand, WC2A 2LL

When: Monday, June 22, 10:00am rally before 10:30am hearing

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Mostafa and his two daughters at their home in Sweets Way

On Monday morning, the final household on the Sweets Way estate goes to court to fight against their eviction by Barnet Council. The family of six are the last of the estate’s residents left in their home, after winning a previous case against Barnet and Notting Hill Housing Trust in late March, on the basis that the eviction process had failed to take into account the father, Mostafa’s, disability.

Now they are back in court, fighting for their home and they need support, inside and outside the courtroom on Monday morning. Protecting the estate and bringing our community back together relies on Monday’s court case. If Mostafa is evicted, it will be far easier for Annington to start destroying our homes.

Until three years ago, when a spinal injury from heavy lifting on the job forced him to stop working, Mostafa was a carer in a hospice in Hackney. Now he struggles to even stand up and can’t leave the house without extensive support. For four years Mostafa had worked to help others in vulnerable positions, and now Barnet Council have failed to adequately support him at a time when he has needed their help, refusing to offer suitable housing to someone with such clear and urgent disability.

Barnet have threatened the family with £40,000 in legal fees for having the nerve to stand up for their right to decent homes. They have also told them to vacate the property immediately, though they haven’t yet offered the family somewhere to go that would be appropriate for Mostafa’s health needs.

So they remain – the only household standing in the way of the destruction of the 142 homes of Sweets Way.

We have done whatever we can to support their legal case, but we need to make clear that there is widespread public support for them and all the others of Sweets Way who never got a day in court to make their cases for a decent home.

Can you join Mostafa at 10:00am, Monday at the Royal Courts of Justice to support the last family standing in the way of the social cleansing of Sweets Way?

If you can’t make it in person, send Barnet Council a message on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Barnet-Council/345382132326295) or Twitter (http://hrefshare.com/93fd0), telling them to drop their possession order against Mostafa until they can guarantee the family a home that meets their needs!

Join the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/822345027851879/

The family was growing and it was time for a bigger place… The Sweets Way social centre has moved!

Sweets Way Resists responds to a predictably unfair legal decision and gets on with fighting social cleansing.

Today one of the most long-standing principles of British law was reinforced: that private property rights hold greater importance than human rights. A Barnet County Court judge decided to rule against our protest and social centre occupation on the Sweets Way estate, in favour of social cleansing property firm, Annington, even though agreeing with most of our arguments in the courtroom.

Not only did they grant Annington possession over the 160 or so homes of the Sweets Way estate, they even gave them an injunction against future protests taking place anywhere on the site! This is unprecedented and a worryingly draconian case for all involved in housing justice work. However, as long as private property is deemed more legally important than a range of human rights, this kind of thing will happen.

But what happened after the injunction is truly remarkable!

Upon our return from court, we found that the social centre at 60 Sweets Way had been emptied of all the things that made it beautiful. Meanwhile a new property – a five bedroom at 76 Oakleigh Road North also slated to be demolished as part of the Annington ‘regeneration,’ but just beyond the injunction and possession zones – had been occupied and filled with all the makings of a new social centre!

There’s a Mexican proverb that feels appropriate for us today:

‘They tried to bury us, but they forgot that we were seeds.’

The courts may be stacked against us in the fight for decent homes, but the courts have never been where our power lies. Every time they try to shovel another heap of dirt on top of us and hope we’ll go away, we shoot up through the soil with another burst of strength!

So we lost in the courts, but we won in the homes of Sweets Way! And we’ll be here to keep the question of social cleansing on the agenda, and support one another as we fight to protect these buildings from demolition and secure decent homes for all those who have already been forced out of Sweets Way.

As always, come pay us a visit (We’re on Oakleigh Road North now, backing onto Sweets Way), send us food and household stuff if you are able to, keep calling Annington’s offices, and sign the petition to stop the demolition of Sweets Way!

Together, we can defeat giants!

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