Occupiers celebrated as they were granted a week to prepare their case against repossession, reports Peter Stäuber
There was great jubilation among housing campaigners after the court case against the Sweets Way occupation was adjourned for a week. Protestors outside Barnet County Court called it a great – if temporary – victory for the residents of the North London estate, who have occupied several buildings in order to draw attention to the housing crisis in the capital.
On Thursday, 19 March, the occupiers were handed court papers to facilitate the repossession by the owner, Annington Property Ltd. In the court room, the property firm's counsel called for urgency in the matter, fearing that any delay might further „entrench“ the occupation and make it even larger. But District Judge Stone accepted the defendants' reasoning that more time was needed to prepare for the hearing. Ella Harris, who represented the occupiers in court, said that they had not had enough opportunity to seek legal advice; she also pointed to the fact that the case was of huge public interest. In the end, the judge granted the squatters an extra week to make their case.
After the adjournment of the hearing, a sigh of relief went through the courtroom. Outside, dozens of residents, occupiers and housing campaigners celebrated the judge's decision and went on a spontaneous „victory march“. One of the residents called it the "beginning of the end of social cleansing" - but there was also a sense that a lot of work is to be done before the occupiers appear in the court room next Monday.
Peter Stäuber is a freelance journalist and translator. He writes for English and German language publications and is a member of the NUJ.
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