Dec 062012
 

Will Judy lose her home while she pops out to the shops?

Will Richard manage to re-launch his TV career?

Will we get a sober and balanced account of the housing crisis?

…sorry I’m just being silly now

I’ve just finished watching myself and other members of the squatting community feature in an ITV documentary about squatting  in which I was interviewed inside a squat. At the time of filming I was living in this derelict commercial property which had been left empty for 7 years by foreign shipping company.

... please note i am not trying to associate myself with this image! Its a fascinating image though. How many ex- squatters in your MP3 collection?

Cut to Bristol. How bizarre…

In the red corner – representing the right to keep a temporary shelter over your head (subject to legal proceedings that will imminently have him evicted)– its the Squatter.

In the blue corner – representing the right to own seven properties and keep them empty – it’s The Land Lord.

Richard starts talking about a group of people who are “experts at exploiting the law and taking over other peoples’ properties”.  Is he talking about the Banks? Maybe it’s a property development company? Perhaps it’s a bailiff company (I hear that’s a boom industry right now)?

What, squatters?! That can’t be! But squatters don’t take other people’s homes! I know because I am one. Isn’t it the case that a squatter who moves into someone’s intended home would instantly get an Interim Possession Order (granting emergency powers to have them evicted)? Hasn’t a law just been passed to make squatting in any of Britain’s 300,000 long-term residential properties illegal? Doesn’t every squatter I know live in a derelict commercial building owned by a company?

I must have misheard. Richard is known for his balanced and informed journalism. He is a Daily Mail journalist after all.

But hang on, what!? There’s a Tory MP waging a war of hate against us!

Oh no, false alarm. He’s just claimed that tens of thousands of the housing sectors must vulnerable “arn’t being demonised enough”. Then he said “they’re just anarchists trying to stick it to the system”. That would be false information… and political persecution come to think of it. It must be footage from the 1930’s. Phew!

What, hold on! He’s talking to Richard!

“But surely they’re not all bad are they” Richard exclaims

“Well I’m sorry but they are!” replies the Tory!!

It’s Mike Weatherly, the Tory MP campaigning to have squatting in commercials made illegal! Strange. I have it on good authority that the camera crew took Mr Weatherly into a really nice squat that was making great use of a derelict building. I was told that he said, on cameram that he saw nothing wrong with the place or what they were doing. What a massive media scoop! Where is this footage? Maybe he had some say over the final cut? If he did then that was a privilege not granted to us.

In fairness to Mr Weatherly MP, he did say it was important that property owners of Britain’s 1 million empty buildings should be able to go to sleep at night without worrying that their building will get taken from them.  It is a danger, after all, that they will get driven off with, never to be seen again. Business executives across the country are probably lying in bed staring at the ceiling. The housing crisis is a terrible thing. Criminalise all squatters! Throw them out of the empty warehouses and into jail. Bang! Six months.

Thank God they didn’t start babbling all that sensationalist nonsense about 0.4% of the population owning 70% of Britain’s land, or all that guff about record evictions, record street homeless and the debt crisis. No-one needs another story about housing benefit being cut for the under 25’s, or about social housing for homeless families being cut after a year. That would be entertainment dressed up as reportage for the sake of ratings. This is serious
journalism.

Watch again http://www.itv.com/itvplayer/video/?Filter=328531

 


This video was filmed in a derelict commercial property left empty for 12 years by a man who owns several buildings and has registered this one in a tax haven. There is strong support from the neighbours for the 15 people who laboured to make it a habitable and productive space

Please lobby your MP to oppose the criminalisation of squatting in commercial buildings now being discussed

 

Squatters for Affordable Housing Campaign: http://www.squashcampaign.org/

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.