Hundreds of thousands of square feet of vacant property stands idle in the city whilst Bristol’s housing register listed over 20,000 people and rising when it was scrapped last year. Whilst most people don’t want to live in property not originally built as housing any roof over your head is better than none. The absurdity of fast rising homelessness figures whilst large buildings lie empty, sometimes for years, has not escaped the notice of Bristol’s homeless people.
The government has also decided to drop proposals in the last budget to scrap business rate relief for vacant properties. Many owners of the largest vacant properties in the city will continue to pay little or no tax on their empty buildings and have no incentive to let them. Police and Fire Brigade both recognise these increasing numbers of ‘voids’ create fire hazards, ‘crack houses’ and attract other crime.
Last year’s Northern Rock crisis and increasing banking jitters should only serve to remind people how, by handing responsibility for economic decisions over to the private sector, Gordon Brown has left one of the most important responsibilities of government to a failing market. The council’s appalling new ‘choice based lettings’ scheme, introduced this year, which relies on the disabled, poor, mentally ill and elderly to ‘house themselves’ has effectively scrapped their statutory responsibility over the last 60 years to house the most vulnerable in society.
The occupation will continue over the next few days with public events and will continue beyond to remind the council, public, Shelter and other agencies that homeless people will continue to assert their right to house themselves where the government has failed. Bristol squatters believe the council and homeless charities have shrugged off the desperate plight of tens of thousands of homeless people in the city because they have little economic clout.
For more info call: Sven on 07786 166477, Miriam on 07964 292775, Jake on 07910 077111 or others on 07528 953230 or 07591 631230.
With the Broadmead Expansion and its spillover into St Pauls and Old Market that is displacing our local communities, the time is now to take matters into our own hands and reclaim our public spaces.
REPAIR NOT REDEVELOP - Yuppie flats are not part of a sustainable future and are pushing social housing out of the city centre. Resist the displacement of local people and join the parade!
Word Document International homelessness/squatters action day - Press Release
Related Link: http://www.squatbristol.org.uk