Following the re-occupation of Sweets Way estate, residents are holding a weekend of activity to resist the housing crisis
Residents fighting for their homes have occupied an empty house backing onto the Sweets Way estate in Barnet in ongoing protest at tenant evictions. Campaigners are planning a weekend of community fun and resistance in the property which is part of the ‘Sweets Park’ redevelopment.
On Monday a county court ruled against residents following a three-week political occupation of empty homes including 60 Sweets Way, which had been turned into a thriving social centre and campaign hub. A judge granted full possession of the site to developer Annington Homes, who also requested an injunction preventing people from protesting on the estate.
In a further assault on human rights and an indictment of the court system, campaigners have not been given the details of any potential injunction, even though it potentially criminalises protesters, residents and the public at large.
Immediately following Monday's ruling, residents and supporters occupied an empty five bedroom house, part of Annington’s ‘Sweets Park’ development area - but just beyond the possession and potential injunction zones. A weekend of fun and resistance is planned in the new occupation, including an ‘Easter Fun Day’, debate and action-planning.
Sweets Way estate is home to over 150 families. Residents were forced to leave their homes in February and moved to temporary accommodation out of the borough. Since then, they have been fighting for the right to go back to the estate and in an effort to stop the development, occupied an empty house, supported by housing campaigns Focus E15 and Barnet Housing Action Group.
Since the occupation began in early March, a handful of residents have been offered temporary accommodation in borough by Barnet Council. But campaigners, known as 'Sweets Way Resists', won’t stop until all of the residents are offered suitable alternative housing.
The occupations are a political statement about the criminality of destroying perfectly good houses and replacing them with investment properties. Sweets Way Resists are also staging lunchtime protests at the central London offices of Annington, to shame the company.
Annington (part owned by tax exile Guy Hands worth an estimated £250 million) looks set to make a killing on the London property market. Only 11% of the new properties in the planned redevelopment are being leased as ‘affordable rent’ (80% of market rates).
A spokesperson said: “We’re not going to stop: we’re planning to keep the question of social cleansing on the agenda, and support one another as we fight to protect the estate from demolition and secure decent homes for all residents who have been forced out of Sweets Way.
"Our new occupation has all the makings of a fantastic place for community celebration over the Easter weekend. It’s an outrage that this five-bedroom property lies empty while right next door, people are losing their homes.
"Monday’s court ruling was a predictably unfair legal decision in which private property rights are deemed more important than human rights. As well as granting Annington possession over the whole of the estate, they have proposed an injunction on the site! This is worrying for anyone involved in housing justice work and political protest. In addition, the court has so little respect for us that they have neglected to clarify what the injunction means.
"There’s a Mexican proverb that feels appropriate for us: ‘They tried to bury us, but they forgot that we were seeds.’”
Sweets Way Resists - the fight continues!
Sunday 5 April Easter Fun Day, 12-4pm
Easter Egg Hunt, BBQ, Children’s Fun and Games, Bouncy Castle, Arts and Crafts
Egg Decorating, Rabbits, Music
Tuesday 7 April Public Meeting at the new occupation, 7.30pm
The new occupation is at 76 Oakleigh Road North, N20.
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