Archive for the ‘housing’ Tag

Housing Activists Seize “Mr and Mrs Expenses MP” Home!

Housing Activists Seize “Mr and Mrs Expenses MP” Home!

A group of housing activists have entered and occupied the house of Anne and Alan Keene. Both Labour MPs they were known as “Mr and Mrs Expenses” two years before the MP spending scandal broke; Mrs Keen, a health minister recently admitted making an expense claim for private hospital treatment for a member of her staff. At the centre of their scandal was their double mortgage claim, where they illegally used Parliamentary expenses to pay interest on the mortgages of both their homes – one of which has now been occupied by outraged locals along with activists from all backgrounds and nationalities.

It was revealed several days ago that they faced having their Hounslow constituency home repossessed by the council after leaving it empty for over a year. The £385,000 three-bedroom terrace was being renovated whilst they stayed in their central home London near Parliament which they billed the public £137,679 for. After an alleged falling out with the builders the house was left empty, but at a local residents meeting a member of the public alerted activists to the location of the house, and 2 days ago it was occupied.

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Hackney’s Housing Shame

For more information please visit the London Coalition Against Poverty.

Birmingham: heavy handed police storm squatted Beachwood Hotel

As reported by Justice Not Crisis, a direct action group based in Birmingham taking action on housing which recently squatted the Beachwood Hotel:

The Beechwood Hotel was stormed at 6:30am this morning by bailiffs and riot police, immediately prior to smashing the rear doors bailiffs had climbed onto the roof to prevent demonstrators occupying the space. Police dogs handlers entered the building as a line of Police prevented people re-entering the building.

Details are vague at present but it is apparent the police officers with riot shields had occupied the building prior to the bailiffs formally evicting the occupants.

One girl was pushed down the stairs by a police officer who barged his riot shield against her. Further reports of police officers kicking bedroom doors open are also being told.

A full update will appear on this site later today. JNC are currently speaking to legal advisers to ascertain whether the police action will be subject to a complaint. Our understanding is that the police officers are there to prevent a breach of the peace.

It appears that this was not their role today but as assistant bailiffs. The Inspector in charge of the operation would not even let people collect food from within the hotel, they did however allow personal items to be collected (Our thanks to Sgt Richards)

Protest over 900 homes for Calcot

Protest over 900 homes for Calcot

Hundreds of objectors packed a school hall on Friday night to protest against plans to build a new housing estate on open ground in Calcot.

Politicians of all three main parties put their differences aside to attend the meeting organised by the Save Calcot campaign at Little Heath School to oppose plans to build on Pincents Hill.

This followed a political spat when the Conservative ward councillors organised a public meeting earlier this month which Save Calcot campaigners saw as “childish tactics”.

However Tories, Liberal Democrats and Labour party representatives all took to the stage pledging their support for the campaign against the Blue Living scheme to build up to 900 houses on former Calcot Golf Course land to the north and east of Sainsbury’s.

Liberal Democrat and parish council chair Jean Gardner pledged that development of the parish council’s recreation ground next to the site “was not an option”.

£6m house, 30 rooms, one careful anarchist collective: inside Britain’s poshest squat

£6m house, 30 rooms, one careful anarchist collective: inside Britain’s poshest squat

It is one of London’s most exclusive addresses. Michelin-starred restaurants are just a block away, the US embassy is around the corner and Hyde Park is at the end of the road. To share the same postcode ought to cost millions.

But the new residents of 18 Upper Grosvenor Street, a raggle-taggle of teenagers and artists called the Da! collective, haven’t paid a penny for their £6.25m, six-storey townhouse in Mayfair.

The black anarchist flag flapping from the first-floor balcony gives a clue what they are up to: since finding a window open on the first floor on October 10, the group has been squatting in the house, and only plan to leave when evicted. This might take some time: after almost a month, the deed owner — a company called Deltaland Resources Ltd, according to the Land Registry — doesn’t appear to have noticed that the once-opulent building has been taken over.

The 30-plus rooms of the grade II-listed residence are now scattered with sleeping bags, mattresses, rucksacks spilling over with clothes and endless half-finished art installations. One room is full of tree branches while another hosts a pink baby bath above which dangle test tubes filled with capers.

Huge increase in number of London’s homeless

Huge increase in number of London’s homeless

A voluntary organisation working with homeless people has found several hundred rough sleepers in Central London, challenging estimates made by both Westminster Council and central Government.

The Simon Community found 263 homeless people sleeping rough in Central London – 194 of whom were in Westminster – shattering claims that the number of rough sleepers is falling.

Westminster Council’s latest street count claimed the number of rough sleepers had decreased by more than 20% – from 89 to 69 – since March. But in the early hours of Saturday 1st November the Simon Community carried out its twice yearly headcount of people sleeping rough in Central London, and found three times that number – despite the cold weather.

The count was carried out in the 8 Inner London boroughs of: Westminster, City, Southwark, Camden, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets, Kensington and Chelsea and Islington.

The last count occurred in April 2008 when 165 people were counted sleeping rough in the same areas.

The Simon Community’s count was carried out in the same way as official counts undertaken by government departments.

It is also only of those who were visible at the time of counting, and did not include those who sleep in parks, disused buildings or other places not accessible to those doing the count – meaning that the true figures will be even higher.

From later in the article:

Westminster Council has also faced accusations from churches and others that it is using jet sprays to wash rough sleepers, and prevent them bedding down.

The controversial practice, known as “wetting down” or “hot washing”, was examined by the Centre for Housing Policy at York University.

Westminster is one of the few local authorities to use the deterrent. Some reports suggest cleaners are deliberately soaking people with hoses to force them away from problem areas.

Banks exploit legal loophole to seize homes

Banks exploit legal loophole to seize homes

Banks and credit card companies are exploiting obscure legal powers to seize the homes of thousands of people who cannot pay their credit card bills.

In some cases, people owing as little as £1,000 have been served with charging orders – the legal instrument enabling a creditor to order the sale of a property.

The practice has emerged days after Yvette Cooper, chief secretary to the Treasury, called on banks to do more to allow people to keep their homes.

According to the Ministry of Justice, 97,026 charging orders were granted by courts in England and Wales last year, a tenfold increase since 2000.

They allow financial institutions to order the sale of a property to pay off unsecured debts on credit cards, personal loans, store cards and car finance. Some will have been used only to threaten the debtor, or to levy a surcharge on the mortgage to recoup the debts.

Nationwide, the building society, and Northern Rock, which was nationalised earlier this year, are among the most aggressive in using the court orders.