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

Ergun Yasar will be sentenced next week

A man from Crouch End has admitted being part of a gang which cheated a casino in Paddington out of thousands of pounds by ‘card swapping’.

Striking junior doctors outside the Whittington Hospital during a national day of action 10.02.16.

Junior doctors have walked out of the Royal Free and Whittington hospitals for the second time in weeks over contract disputes.

Yesterday, 21:05
Haringey Council Civic Centre

Haringey Council has U-turned on its plan to close a loophole allowing families to secure places for their children at some of the borough’s most popular schools even after moving miles away from catchment areas.

Yesterday, 17:29
Tulip Siddiq with volunteers from Royal Free young volunteers programme

Inspirational young volunteers were praised in parliament for their ‘amazing’ contribution to the Royal Free NHS trust.

Yesterday, 15:35
Police in Highgate issued the warning last week. Picture: PA

Neighbourhood police in Highgate have issued a warning about suspicious activity in the area.

Yesterday, 15:00
Rosemary Leeke speaking at Regent High opening

The headteacher at Regent High School has announced her retirement after leading the Camden school for 13 years.

Yesterday, 14:08
Prime Minister David Cameron has called for a re-think. Picture: PA

A Montessori training centre which helps female convicts who have babies in jail has welcomed the Prime Minister’s call for a re-think into the way the prison system treats pregnant women.

Yesterday, 12:13
Neal Wilkinson, Nick Mason, Karl Brazil, Ash Soan

Pink Floyd’s drummer was among the artists who appeared at a special workshop at Camden’s Roundhouse.

Most read 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

Sony Smart Ultra HD 55'' LED TV

Enjoy the ultimate entertainment experience in your living room with the Sony Smart Ultra 55’’ LED TV. Be the envy of all your friends with this huge TV- you can change your living room into your own cinema! Get the boys around to watch the football or get the girls around to watch the DVD of 50 Shades.. this is a prize that everyone would enjoy! Stand a chance to upgrade your current entertainment system by wining this fantastic prize.

Surface Pro 4

Technology is ever evolving. We are constantly being shown new technology that is innovative, revolutionary and designed to make life easier for us all. Gone are the days of dial up modems and computers so large you needed half a room to store it. We are in the age of smooth, small and sleek. Companies are all trying their best to create technology that is easy to transport and guaranteed to be user friendly.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe