After many meetings and planning, in August 2005, a number of concerned individuals took direct action to squat a large house / block of flats. The place had been empty for the previous seven years and was in a great state of dis-repair.
The local community, as first a little apprehensive at the arrival of these folks, were soon bought round to seeing the occupation as really positive. As it was so derelict, it was an obvious eyesore in their midst. Additionally is had become a crack den and a haunt for prostitution. There isn't a community centre for some distance around in this area of Radford, and thus involving the community in such a self-help project was a great way so get folks involved in some proper DIY provision. Living above the shop, so to speak, enabled the building to not only be looked after, but with a steady stream of helping hands, providing lots of activity for the resource centre it became.
The council were there in the first week with a notice to quit. The officers were not interested in the fact that it had been empty for so long. They didn't care. Well that's obvious innit!
Check out these links, and be inspired by time and trouble and effort people put into the project.
The council has a dim view of squatters! They are all wasters. We proved them wrong. All squatters are not the same these were different to the councils expectations. The place had activity going on most of the time, hell, the council even added it to the list of community centres, as if it was provision that they were making for the community. Cheeky bastards :-) The chief executive of Nottingham City Council [at the time] Gordon Mitchell, dropped by for a cup of tea and a custard cream, to see for himself.
I was so impressed by the range of activity people could arrange. Support for critical mass, bike fixing, free food kitchen to refugee and asylum assistance. Far to numerous to list the activities.
BUT NOW LOOK WHAT HAS HAPPENED.!!
Because of some bad people that ended up taking over, violently attacking people that tried to stand up to them, the whole project has collapsed. People drifted away being intimidated and at some fear.
There was then an attempt to re-squat the squat, a valiant attempt. But this again was made untenable by the violent activity of only a couple of people that remained there. People being physically attacked and intimidated. The asylum and refugee project that was also housed there was then subjected to numerous break-ins and much damage done to the building, so that they couldn't remain.
I want readers of this post to be under no doubt about what I think about the whole issue. This was a community project. Not just a squat for a few people to live in. This project was maintained by committed people as a service for many. The many taking advantage of what it had to offer. If you look at some of the pictures of the party's held there, and look at the other good works done there, you get the idea of the many hundreds who it was thought would help stand up for it.
We should mostly be thoroughly ashamed of ourselves. Not to stand up against the intimidation of just a couple of people, hundreds have stood aside and watched this happen.
Call yourselves a community ..... Pah!
The very idea that just the immediate people involved could / should do this by themselves, as some risk I might add, while all just looked on and watched all this happen. It is simply not good enough.
The place is now at the treat of imminent eviction. Good riddance you might say. But, imagine the next time someone wants to open a squat / social centre. This is the reputation that you now have, established in the councils mind. Further, so much for self-policing and sorting our own problems, without reference to 'them'. We now rely on state help, to clean up the shit that we've left, in more ways than one.
I am cross about it all. I so hope you are to.
33 -35 Burns Street
Burns St Squatting Project :: The Progress
Spray Art at the ASBO - Pictures
ASBO Squat : New Deal for Community [NDC] Magazine Item
Nottingham A Squatting 'Slide Show' [to a show tune :-)]
New Mural Wall Painting at the ASBO in Radford