Thursday, 12 February 2015

London's Housing Crisis: Empty flats occupied in protest against Aylesbury Estate demolition

Sam, one of a group of young people occupying part of the Aylesbury Estate
© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2015

Sam is one of several young people occupying the Aylesbury Estate that is threatened with demolition.
Southwark Council says these Aylesbury homes are no longer habitable.
“But all they need is refurbishment, like double glazing to make them more efficient,” says Sam.
“There’s nothing structurally wrong with them.
“And there’s over 18,000 people in Southwark that need homes right now.”

After the March for Homes on 31 January, Sam and others took over flats 77-105 on the Chartridge block.
“There was a stand-off with the police. The Council hasn’t even spoken to us,” says Sam.
“But they sent Council workmen to cut open the properties next to us and smash them up even more,” he adds.
“They’ve welded them shut again.”

Police did not seek entry to the decommissioned and now occupied flats.
Occupying residential property as a protest is legal, say the occupiers.

On 1 February, Sam says the occupiers issued the following statement: ‘We are tenants, squatters, and other people who care about how our city is being grabbed by the rich, by developers and corrupt politicians, socially cleansed and sold off for profit…

‘…The same bullshit that we have seen on the nearby Heygate estate, and all across London.
‘No demolition of the Aylesbury.
‘No yuppy flats.
‘Homes for all.
‘We are here to fight for the Aylesbury.
‘We are here to fight for our city.’

Sam accepts not all residents support the occupiers.
But many do show support – and the occupiers say they are keen to ‘engage with residents’.
Especially, as many residents 'see how the Council has allowed the Aylesbury to become rundown'.
“Councillors say we don’t represent estate residents,” says Sam.
“But I don’t think councillors can say they represent the people on the Aylesbury.”

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, February 2015

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