In one of the most audacious Occupy actions to date Lewisham People Before Profit community activists seized a development site on Besson Street, New Cross,London SE14, and built a home on the site to expose the failure of the local Labour council and the goverment to address the housing crisis.
This land was once a Council estate. At the last local elections People Before Profit candidates highlighted the scandal of Labour Lewisham having hundreds of empty flats that could be used to address local housing need. First Labour removed the bathrooms and kitchens and as local people got more and more angry,. Labour cleared the site and left it to rot.
People Before Profit want this community land to be used to build Council homes now and by occupying the site we have drawn attention to the fact that much of the building land in London is kept empty to keep house prices and rents high by restricting demand, thus increasing profit.
It is People Before Profit's view that Labour Lewisham is in the pocket of the developers and we have very real concerns that had we not carried out this direct action, Labour would have sold this community land behind closed doors to a property developer.
Sunday 16 February the police arrived in force and all present were told that unless they moved off site, they would be arrested. Part of the threat to arrest was that by building a home, we altered the site's value, and as such we had committed "aggravated trespass".
It seems in London today that campaigning to highlight abuse of power by Labour and Conservatives can lead to a police cell.
Over the week end 4 film companies filmed this action and the local press have all published this direct action. National press will not report this action fearful that across the UK community groups occupy community land and empty buildings to solve local housing need.
People Before Profit will be fighting the local elections in May, giving local voters a choice of Labour career politicians in the pocket of developers, or community activists in People Before Profit who have a record of putting people, community and our environment before all else.
Please use your own twitter accounts, blogs etc to get this story out and across the UK. we cannot count on main stream media to report these direct actions. this being the most clever direct action in years, deserves to be told and circulated to inspire others.
See our local council election mainifesto and or to join PBP. www.peoplebeforeprofit.org.uk
More London wide actions are planned across UK upto the local elections. keep up to date by following Ray on twitter@Raywoolford;@peopleB-4profit