Democracy in Barnet

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Not even Richard Cornelius, Leader of Barnet Council was allowed into the AGM!

Tonight was an absolute disgrace at Hendon Town Hall! Barnet Council refused to let any of us from Sweets Way Resists or Our West Hendon into a *public* meeting where decisions about our lives were being made, even though we had 200,000 combined signatures on our petitions to present to them!

But that didn’t stop us from shouting loud enough that we could be heard in the meetings over the Mayor of Barnet, who was busy lying to the Council, telling them that residents were being let inside, when Barnet Council staff had told us in no uncertain terms that none of us would be allowed into the Town Hall tonight!

In truth, the line of cops and private security did occasionally part and make way for people to enter… As long as they were in formal attire! The rest of us proles were pushed and shoved by privately hired heavies for trying to take part in our local democratic process!

We stuck it out though! And we were there at the end when people in formal wear began to trickle-out from the post-AGM reception. We made sure they knew we were weren’t going away!

Tonight made the sorry-state of democracy in Barnet clear for all to see: even with the strength of 200,000 petition signatures, privatised security guards, backed by the force of the Met, kept families from taking part in a discussion with the council that sold off or approved the demolition of our homes.

But democracy isn’t really about what a bunch of posh folks in suits get up to behind police lines. It is about what we do to shape our lives, in the places we live. So we’ll get on with democracy at Sweets Way and West Hendon. If Barnet Council don’t want to let us into their meetings, we will just get on with our own and make the decisions together that will allow us to live the lives we deserve. We’ll see how long it takes before they come knocking at our doors…

Potluck resistance on Mothering Sunday

Today there was an amazing international potluck amongst residents, former residents and supporters at the Sweets Way social centre. We treated one another to an amazing spread of food from Turkey, Brazil, Cuba, Poland and beyond. When we didn’t have space to put all the food, someone came up with the bright idea to turn the Sitex (metal sheets used to board up empty homes to keep humans from living in them) that have been removed from various windows and doors, into a table top! Finally, a good use for a socially useless product!

The Sweets Way community is as diverse as it is strong, and with each shared meal, each conversation, the sense of possibility about what we can achieve together here grows.

This campaign is very new and the odds of success are in many ways tiny, but if anything can beat the bastards at Annington Homes, it is the community of Sweets Way!

PS – We’ve also got 1,500 people signing our petition [https://www.change.org/sweetsway] in less than 3 days! The buzz is building! Watch for more exciting stuff tomorrow as we pay Annington a visit at their Bond Street offices in the morning!

PPS – Happy Mothering Sunday! This campaign, like so many before it, has been led by mums who have decided they don’t want their kids growing up with the bullshit they’ve experienced! Massive thanks to all the mothers of Sweets Way and beyond!

A visit from Russell Brand…

Guess who paid us a visit today?

After a week of being ignored by the media, in spite of countless horrendous personal stories of social cleansing and the community-driven occupation of an empty home, Russell Brand popped by and all-of-a-sudden we became newsworthy!

He jumped on a trampoline and swung on the swings with the kids, took some pics and then Tweeted his 9.2 million followers about our campaign to stop Annington’s plans to ‘regenerate’ our homes.

After that, Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian (the WHOLE Guardian… not just a section of it!) came along and paid us a visit, too!

After it all, we watched the film Si Se Puede, about a week with the amazing Spanish anti-evictions movement, and got inspired by what people there have been able to achieve through peaceful collective mutual aid and direct action.

At the end of the day, our petition now has nearly 700 signatures, the day after launching it, Change.org has begun to promote it, and we’re all ready to fight!

SAVE SWEETS WAY! NO SOCIAL CLEANSING!

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SIGN THE PETITION: ANNINGTON – Stop the social cleansing of Sweets Way!

So we’ve got an occupied social centre, an active and outraged community and plans for lots more action, but we want it to be as easy as possible for people to do something small to get involved, even if they can make it to 60 Sweets Way.

So we started a petition on Change.org [http://chn.ge/18Gv3Jb], demanding:

“Annington and Barnet Homes stop the demolition of the Sweets Way estate, stop the evictions of current residents and offer decanted residents the right to return to their former homes at truly affordable rents.”

So sign it, share it, convince your favorite celebrity or influential person to give it a plug!

On it’s own a petition will only get us so far, but along with direct action, community organising and some press to shine a light on the ugly realities of social cleansing at Sweets Way and beyond, we can make sure our homes remain our homes!

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