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End of the Road for ASBO

imc-notts-features | 05.03.2008 09:36 | Free Spaces

According to an undisclosed source, squatters at the ASBO centre have been given notice to quit the premises by 27th Feb.

Social activists, who initially squatted the building to provide a community space, have long since left. The remaining occupants have been implicated in a string of violent attacks against the Sankofa Foundation, a project supporting asylum seekers in the lower part of the building. An attempt to reopen another part of the building was also violently repelled.

The disastrous end of the squat has prompted some to question why the wider community who benefited from the ASBO haven't helped to sustain the project.

Newswire: ASBO Squat: Destroyed & Now Evicted | asbo evicted | and now for the positive asbo news | Sankofa Foundation in Crisis | ASBO, The Last Days | asbo squat - end of days

Previous feature articles: YES, we're open ! | Abandoned for over 7 years...

Background: Chief Executive of Nottingham City Council drops by at the ASBO | ASBO welcomed by community! | Nottingham Squatting Project, The Tidy-Up :: The pictures | Council serve eviction notice | New Squatting Project in Nottingham | Notts Indymedia Free Spaces Topic Page

Links: Asbo Website | Sankofa Foundation | Days of Action for Squats and Autonomous Spaces

Video: BBC report on the vandals, forcing the closure of the Sankofa Project

After many meetings and planning, in August 2005, a number of concerned individuals decided to squat a derelict house/block of flats. The Victorian building in the Arboretum/Radford area had been empty for the previous seven years and was in a great state of dis-repair. It had also become a crack den and haunt for prostitution. The new residents set about tidying the place up and had soon convinced the local community to abandon their initial apprehension.

The council were initially less than impressed and gave the squatters notice to quit within a week. The fact that the building had been empty for so long didn't interest them. This view was one which the positive contribution of those living in the building was able to overturn and the council went on to list the Asbo on its website along with other community centres in the city. At one point the chief executive of the council at the time even dropped in for a cup of tea and a custard cream.

Over the years the Asbo has played host to a number of parties and events, showcasing local artists and bringing a community of people together in a free space. There was Squatstock (1|2), a Winter Solstice party and events around Mayday (1|2) last year. Sadly, during the course of 2007, there were insufficient people and resources to keep the community centre going and the free food, bike workshops, etc. ground to a halt.

Late last year, a number of people concerned about the way the Asbo had deteriorated attempted to move into a disused part of the building. Unfortunately, relations with those already resident did not go well and, following threats of violence, the newcomers decided to leave.

Since then the remaining occupants have been implicated in a series of attacks on the Sankofa Foundation, a project providing psychotherapy and other support for asylum seekers, which is located in a separate part of the building. Now that the Asbo looks likely to be evicted, the occupants appear to be stripping the building of anything of value before leaving.

The Asbo: A History in Pictures (by Tash)


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fires raging at night

05.03.2008 21:55

Every night at dusk the same group gather at the back of the ASBO. Skulking about in the dark, fetching and carrying out furniture and books for burning in the yard at the back. One night this week the local residents came out onto the street when the noise of something exploding on the fire went off like a bomb and lit up the streets on all sides so brightly that lights were bouncing off the walls opposite Tennyson Street, behind the ASBO. Two residents of the squat, one neighbouring young man and his friend, build and watch the fire. No environmentalists these chaps!

The bicycle worskhop is now emptied and the metal all sold off for scrap. At night all the lights are on in the place and it would look magnificent if it wasnt so horribly sad. Its like observing everything decending into chaos. Its unbelievable that we are all just watching this happen.


No surprises

07.03.2008 11:54

It breaks my heart to see the reports and photos of the ASBO on this site, at its best it was a wonderful place both for its residents and all those who used the space. To those calling for names and photos of the two people who, it seems, are blamed exclusively for what has happened I would like to say that in my view the project could not have gone any other way. For some time the ASBO and all its residents and friends have been caught up in infighting and accusations from Nottingham's 'activist community' and the space was never able to live up to its potential because of this. Those people who allowed their personal differences to get in the way of all the good things that the ASBO stood for should be ashamed of themselves, I believe it is thanks to these people more than anyone that the centre has declined in the way it has. A democratic, anarchist project like ASBO can only succeed if there is a wide range of people and ideas to bring it to life and this became an impossibility thanks to the pariah status the ASBO had gained in many people's minds. All of this began long before many of the events mentioned in recent articles here.

Please don't call for anyone's blood, that is not what the ASBO project was supposed to be about. It was supposed to be about community and the community has let the place down just as the residents, past and present, have let their community down either by their actions or by inaction. I hope this will not end the idea of a squatted community project in Nottingham, but it is enough for me not to want to be involved with activism in the city any more.


Put up photos so no ones is attacked by them again!no ones calling for blood

07.03.2008 21:07

Abit boring to see this up again, theres been lots of threads on this.No point in having ago at each other
Yes it should have had more support from community & definetely from the council. "anarchist" project?,it was but whats not anarchist about taking funds for good projects that benefit the community & do a good job like giroscope in Hull etc.
People need to look at what anarchism really is, it is a well planned, consensual,delegated & mandated direct democracy,libertarian communism,communitarianism. It can involve what are classed as state bodies like councils in Libertarian municipalism as described by main anarchist philosphers like Proudhon to Bookchin & further.
Main ingredient is Kropotkins mutual aid, recently discovered & renamed tit for tat evolution or reciprocal altruisism by Richard Dawkins.
However who got hit by Adams friend James should get police to prosecute.
These characters should be forced to build something good in future or made to pay for what they did

Green syndicalist

City activism?

08.03.2008 16:56

Hi Anon,

ASBO has only been one part of activism in this city. There are many projects and campaigns to get stuck in with and there many different tactics used by these. ASBO is definitely not a showcase for what other activism is like.

Notts Indymedia has been reporting on grassroots activism in Nottinghamshire for 2 years now and has always hoped to inspired and empower people to get involved and make the change they wish to see in their community. Although we generally report in a positive way, we feel it is important to highlight the situation of the ASBO (even if this is a bad one) and hopefully we can all give this a critical look and learn from our mistakes for the future.

one of notts indymedia

Community Listing!

08.03.2008 21:56

I had asked ASBO residence to save a copy of this entry, listed on the council website. There, the ASBO gets a mention as a 'community Centre'. [you could almost read this as a provision the council were making to the community, rather that what the community were trying to do for themselves with no council help whatsoever].

This copy had been lost for some time, and now of course, has been dropped from this listing.

mail e-mail:

Thanks for the Community Listing

09.03.2008 02:51

its good to see all the brilliant work lodged up as a community centre. Despite what people may have felt about the listing giving credit to the local authority, it is a valuable acknowledgement of all the efforts that went into making the ASBO a great lesson in community social action in Nottingham. The place was vibrant, the local community came and "shopped", surfed the internet, sat and read the books, shared the Saturday meal, fixed their bikes or buggies, and kids who didnt have much on offer elsewhere in the holidays were welcomed in away from the streets. The last surviving project carried on largely unnoticed except to those who carried on supporting it, and all the local people who used it. The spirit of all the activity mustn't be lost in the sadness and powerlessness that so many people are feeling about the aggression and violence that have come out of the place from some very sad people in the last few weeks. They stand to lose the most in the end..


Some agreement

09.03.2008 20:58

To the notts indymedia folks I would like to say thanks for the positive coverage and support they have given the ASBO during happier times. And I don't deny that it is important that the recent decline of the centre is covered on this site as well. I'd like to give a different viewpoint on a couple of issues however.

Firstly, I'd advise caution in taking some accusations too seriously. This is not to say that anyone here is lying, but the ASBO project has throughout its brief history been the subject of various accusations, some justified and some not, from various people within the activist community and in the local area as a whole. I'm not in a position to give an account of what has happened recently, but I am aware that some of the negative posts about ASBO have been written by individuals who have had issues with certain ASBO residents and the project in general in the past. As I mentioned before, certain people who have held grudges have themselves contributed to the decline of the centre by convincing people who would otherwise have become involved not to do so. These people know who they are and I won't be mentioning any names, or initials, on this site. I only ask that in dealing with the current situation and in learning lessons for the future that people trust their own experiences before trusting rumours.

Secondly, I would ask that those who know the one remaining original ASBO resident keep in mind his commitment to the project for over two years and the fact that he is well known and well liked in the local area; or at least was until recently. He has invested more of his time and energy in the centre than anyone else. While he may not always read from the same hymn sheet as certain so-called activists with their magical knack for saving the world and propping up the Sumac centre bar at the same time, the fact remains that he has always tried to keep the ASBO in use even when few others were willing to support him. If he's now lost his motivation for wanting to be a useful part of his community, I have to say I can hardly blame him.


reply to Anon and dealing with facts

09.03.2008 23:18

It is important not to create hyseria in dealing with these things. I prefer the facts which I would like to list here.

1. Sankofa has been broken into at least four times in one year.

2. On the first occasion the intruder used a key to the front door which we did not know existed. The office door was opened with a boot. Although a computer was stolen, a far more expensive printer was returned by way of dropping it off in a bin the following day. Three youths were observed doing this and it was returned to us within minutes of this happening. One of the residents at the back tried to insist on entering the office whilst the police were in attendance and regularly announced that he owned the entire building. He pronounced this several times to the incredulity of myself and the police.
3. The second occasion they entered via a window and again kicked in the internal door of the office. The office was ransacked. The filing cabinet was prised open. The bolt was slid across the back of the front door so that we couldnt gain entrance. Round the back the windows had been boarded up but they had not been broken. Effectively we were barricaded out of the office. On this occasion, two men were identified using catapaults to hurl small tins of paint, ball bearings, and glass bottles, down from the roof at the people who came to assist us. paint was all over the road. It is reasonable to assume that the men gained access to the roof through the hole in the roof and walked along the gulley between the two roofs. Access to the hole in the roof is only possible by first being inside the accommodation above, which is kept locked.
4. The third time they came in through the back door after having kicked it in and damaged and removed the lower half of the door. They couldnt get in through the internal door but there was evidence of concerted efforts to do so in the form of damage to the door. Whilst the door was being reinforced and repaired a male voice was heard outside the back ( this was early hours of the morning) repeating that he was going to come in again.
5. The fourth known time, they came in by the back door. The damage was such that only the edges of the door remained. They then destroyed the inner door and used such force that it was damaged and removed from its fixings. Also the force used was such that it left muddy footprints all over the wall, and destroyed the door frame, and part of the structure of the wall, both to the back door and to the internal door. They then used considerable force to get through a locked door. On this occasion they removed a washing machine, a cooker, various other items, including a copper water tank which was possibly four feet tall. They did not disconnect the water in doing so and would have been soaked to the skin and dripping wet, and probably extremely noisy. They left the water pouring hundreds of gallons for possibly another 24 hours.
6. Although it is difficult to point the finger , there are some observations which are reasonably made. There are at least three if not four people outside the back of the ASBO lighting fires most evenings. The fires continue to the early hours of most mornings. I find it astonishing that no one saw, heard or knew anything about the considerable noise that would have ensued from the various break ins which seem to be happening at a time when there was a lot of activity at the back.
7 Even if, in the inconceivable possability that no one who frequents the back of the building or lives in the accommodation above, heard or saw nothing, did not barricade the windows, it is surprising that they did not hear or see or know anything about the breaking of the sankofa windows at the front which happened on at least three other occasions. Remembering also, that none of the windows in the Community Room, or the art room or the bicycle mainainance rooms, suffered any damage either to their windows, or their doors or the proerty therein. It is surprising that no one in the rooms above heard the sound of breaking glass.

Whilst we acknowledge that community living can be fraught. and differences of opinion can seem large at the time, these break ins are not of the same order as differences of opinion or political perspective. Whilst people engaged in community living may develop differences of ethos or priciple which may feel wounding or deeply wounding to those who join together hoping to share a vision, this is not of the same order as the break ins of the sankofa space.

The break ins at sankofa are criminal acts arising out of a disinterest or disregard for anyone else. The attitutde that has been demonstrated towards some of the clients of sankofa has been viscious on occasions, and anyone knowing some of the individuals on the recieving end could not deny that this was so.

I am not aware of anyone who wants to make false accusations here, or to deny the good that has been done by each and everyone of the former residents during their time. However, when a wrong is done it does not negate those good things, but neither does it dimish the scale of the wrong. What has happened down stairs has been of epic proportions.


Apathy - response

10.03.2008 00:59

Apathy seems to be the order of the day. Who knows who will respond, or post - pretty soon everyone will be gone.

I remember picking up the needles, clearing out the space. Who knows what will be there soon.

Maybe it will be a car park and kids can build fires all day long.

Maybe it will just be a miserable bleak building with no purpose as it sinks slowly into its sodden foundations.

Maybe it will be one big pidgeon loft.

The people in the neighbourhood need to be speaking about what they want.



13.03.2008 00:07

i've squatted for fucking years. i thought it was about building things and communities. but i feel so ashamed now, look, nottingham , london, and many others. we've stood up to the councils and thugs in the past, trying to make places uninhabitable. but fucking now look, people are wrecking places for them. just scum. i think i go leave this fucking country, other places have more respect for each other and community. sooooo depressed.


thieving parasitic squat leeches trash rampART social centre

Over the weekend one of the rampART collective caught friends of the neighboring squatters stealing the lead of the roof. Confronted, they justified their action by saying that the place was going to be evicted in a week anyway. Of course that's not actually true, there is no date yet for an eviction and who's is to say that an eviction attempt would succeed. It could have been months before the rampART was finally closed.


Good News - found but not recovered

13.03.2008 11:38

Its good to share good news. Here it is:

The small portable steps ( with steadying handle) that were stolen from the internal locked office, (also from within the locked sankofa space) have been found - but not yet recovered.

There they are!! Outside the Community Kitchen at the back of the ASBO. You can see them in the photos posted by Tash.

Now how did they get there.......... and where are they now?


Police Community Support Officer Blog Entry on Squatting

25.03.2008 20:23

If you want to see what the under-informed think of squatting as an activity, please check out:

Police Community Support Officer Blog : Squatting page at:

However, for those of us that thought that squatting should be thought of as an activity of those engaged in social concerns, please check out the 'London Squatter's' Comment at:

because it helps provide the antidote to this PCSO's viperous attack.


BBC report on the vandals, forcing the closure of the Sankofa Project

27.03.2008 22:12

BBC report on the vandals, forcing the closure of the Sankofa Project. It acknowledged that it provided a worthwhile service to those that have no hope of receiving assistance from state sources. BBC even mentions that all this was done from a squat.

It is clear that the vandalism is perpetrated by those of the opinion that asylum seekers, should not be getting house and service help, before white-english folks. So depressing eh?

online BBC:
Helping failed asylum seekers

A volunteer group based in a Nottingham squat is helping failed asylum seekers.

Nottm IMC