Search

Two arrested as police raid squatting protest in Gospel Oak

15:57 26 February 2014

Police force entry into property in Southampton Road as protesters refuse to leave. Picture: Polly Hancock

Police force entry into property in Southampton Road as protesters refuse to leave. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

Two protesters have been arrested as a stand-off with Camden police ended in officers smashing their way into a council-owned property.

Scene outside Southampton Road property as police try to make contact with the protesters occupying the upstairs flat. Picture: Polly HancockScene outside Southampton Road property as police try to make contact with the protesters occupying the upstairs flat. Picture: Polly Hancock

Police stormed the house in Southampton Road, Gospel Oak, after campaigners from the Camden Housing Action Group staged an occupation.

They were protesting against what they claimed was a broken promise by the council not to sell off any council housing – something Camden Council strongly denies.

Three council-owned properties were sold off at auction for a total of £2.38million on Monday after an “independent survey” claimed extensive structural and refurbishment work was needed to bring them back into use.

Incensed that private developers would be taking over council-owned property, the housing campaigners gained entrance to one of the properties, hoisted up banners and announced they were staging an occupation.

Police lead one of the protesters away in handcuffs. Picture: Polly HancockPolice lead one of the protesters away in handcuffs. Picture: Polly Hancock

Tom Hunter, a member of the Camden Housing Action Group, said the council’s “broken promises” prompted the protest.

“The council made a commitment not to sell off council houses,” he said.

“We’ve got 25,000 people on a waiting list to be housed so the last thing we need is the council to sell off its properties.

“Selling to private developers will only raise prices of surrounding properties and hasten the already rapid social cleansing and gentrification we’re seeing in Camden.

“We’ve had great support from people passing our occupation – the housing crisis in London really strikes a chord with the public.”

But Cllr Theo Blackwell, cabinet member for finance, said protesters had “grasped the wrong end of the stick”.

“Camden Council is building council homes, not flogging them,” he said. “All three of these are old commercial properties which have remained empty since the end of their leases.

“The attached flats were never used as council homes and were rented with the commercial units below to the people who ran the shops. In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to sell off properties like these but we can do more with the money we’ve now raised.

“Funds from their sale and other projects will now be used to help fund 1,100 new council homes, right now, as well as helping to make repairs to existing council homes.”

The campaigners said they were also protesting Section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, which criminalises squatting in abandoned residential properties.

Anna Gardener, another member of the group, said: “By using the building as a protest occupation, Section 144 cannot be applied.

“We want to show the importance of being able to still use abandoned residential buildings for community protests such as ours.”

As police wrestled two of the group’s members to the ground, they were then arrested.

Fatima Pita, 28 and Filipo Yanis-Nikou, 27, are both set to appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates court charged with trespassing in a residential building.

While the council’s properties services team informed the police of the occupation, Cllr Blackwell said he was not personally in favour of the prosecution of protesters.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 17:09

The solicitor, who features in the film Denial, says there is “reams and reams” of far-right material online, and search engines should take a stand

Yesterday, 15:19

Former children’s laureate and author Michael Rosen has condemned Haringey Council’s plans to move thousands of council houses into a private company as “social and ethnic cleansing”.

Yesterday, 15:04

Campaigners against funding cuts to schools in Haringey have called on parents to turn the tide.

Yesterday, 13:07

A Camden School for Girls student has seen her rejection letter from Oxford University go viral after transforming into a work of art.

Tue, 13:55

A car wash owner has been jailed after an employee was electrocuted while showering in squalid rat-infested housing he provided for workers.

Tue, 13:07

Criminal gangs working across Hampstead are ordering spare keys online using numbers etched onto the access locks.

Tue, 11:50

Testing along West End Lane showed many residents were being exposed to nitrogen dioxide levels more than 50 per cent above permitted levels.

Tue, 11:02

The charity gathered in front of the Iranian Embassy as husband Richard delivered a letter calling for justice and a better future for his child

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now