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!

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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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STOP MOSTAFA’S EVICTION, Monday, 8am!

CALL-OUT: Keep Mostafa’s family in Sweets Way, Monday, August 10, 8am, 46 Sweets Way, N20 0NT (Meet at Sweetstopia, 95 Sweets Way)

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Mostafa’s family are the last remaining family on the Sweets Way estate. They have fought to stay where they are because Barnet Council have failed to provide alternative accommodation suitable to Mostafa’s physical health needs, having developed a serious disability while working as a carer three years ago.

Now they have been told that High Court bailiffs will be coming to evict the family of six on Monday morning, and we are committed to helping them stay in their homes until Barnet Council have found a truly suitable alternative accommodation for them.

In the midst of the eviction process, Barnet cut off the family’s housing benefit, leading to rent arrears, and are now using this as an excuse to avoid their duty of care to them. Both because of the Council’s horrendous treatment of Mostafa and his family, and because they are the last family standing on the estate, it is critical that we mobilise to stop this eviction!

There will be roles for people who are comfortable with different kinds of action on the day. There are always legal risks involved in stopping evictions, but we aim to make sure that everyone who is present can play a part, no matter what their level of comfort with different forms of direct action.

Regardless, we will need as many people as possible if we are to keep Mostafa in his home. Please arrive at 8am outside the gates of Sweetstopia (95 Sweets Way) for a 9am start.

DETAILS: Monday, August 10, 8am, 46 Sweets Way, London, N20 0NT (Meet at Sweetstopia, 95 Sweets Way)