UK Free Spaces Feature Archive
Recently there has been a spate of stories about social centres and evictions. At 5.30am 25th August, around 40 police and 30 bailiffs smashed down the front door of the Ex-Grand Banks in north London. This high profile centre had proven to be one of the most successful squatted community projects for some time, despite occasional police harrassment of people attending meetings there (see video). On Saturday 4th there was a street party in protest against the eviction.
Use Your Loaf, an ex-bakery on Deptford High Street which had been occupied as a centre for social solidarity since summer 2002, has also now been evicted after managing to resist eviction a week before.
Meanwhile, in Birmingham, a disused nursey has just been occupied. In Arms Reach, a squat just off Oxford Street in central London, provided a one-off week-long series of workshops, films and gigs. Back in north London, the AUTONOMOUS LAB in Chalk Farm Road, having already resisted eviction at the beginning of August, have now expanded into a second vaccant shop front!
There are plenty of other successful projects nationally and internationally as well: read on for more details...
The association has been formed in the last few weeks by resident Cam boaters to campaign against new mooring rules recently introduced by the Cam Conservancy. Starting from October 1st boats will not be allowed to moor on Midsummer Common, directly affecting the approximately 22 boats that will have to move, but also causing overcrowding of the entire river. The Campaign has also highlighted other concerns, including the lack of waste disposal facilities and fuel supplies available for boaters, and the presence of just a single water point for tens of boats.
This Sunday, Venezuelans will vote on whether to keep their controversial president, Hugo Chávez. Elected with a promise to redistribute Venezuela's enormous oil wealth (before Chávez it was the number one supplier to the US) this referendum will be a chance to find out if he still has the support of the people. Having failed to oust him with a traditional (US backed)coup in 2002, and a general "strike" (bosses lock-out) the following Christmas, the opposition's referendum might actually end up strengthening his legitimacy.
This week, groups in London held a week of solidarity with the Venezuelan people and their right to self-determination without US interference. Daily events (see programme) took place at the rampART creative centre in Whitechapel, starting on Monday 9th with the opening of a "Latinamerican Liberation" exhibition. The main event is a picket of the US Embassy on the day of the referendum, Sunday 15th, from 2pm; meet beforehand in Hyde Park near Speakers' Corner for a 'Bolivarian picnic'.
New topic created: See Venezuela 2004 for all related posts.
Around seventy protesters "took back the streets" in an action in Edinburgh on Saturday 31st of July, 2004. Several sit-down protests were held, and Princes Street was seized before moving on to Tollcross, where two people were arrested.
[ full report with pictures | call for street party | Reclaim the Streets]
Dalston junction in Hackney, was closed off on the afternoon of Friday 30 as a huge police operation took place to evict the popular and well-known occupied venue and social centre, the Poison club. At aproximatly 3:00pm the police axed down the door, roughly handling the occupants, immediatly evicting them from the building, whilst filming the operation. This raid was on the basis of a drug search, followed by a second 'explanation' that the building was structurally unsound due to a fire next door the night before.
The Poison Club was home to around nine residents and has been in existence for almost 2 years. Described as a non-commercial D.I.Y meeting point for friends of punk rock, hardcore and grindcore, the residents and users of the Poison Club also regularly facilitated its use as a venue for benefits such as Zapatista solidarity. The centre has also been a focal point for the queer punk community. The Poison Club is the latest eviction in a continued drive to harass and evict squats in the Hackney area. Full report
Meanwhile, an eviction is also looming at the Autonomüs Lab Resistance and Rebellion for Tuesday 3rd August. This occupied space in Camden Town was opened in early June for the "Greenwash or Us, Exibition of Resistance Against BP and Big Oil", and it has been open daily to the local community ever since. A series of events such as exhibitions, meetings, workshops, screening and music nights have been taking place at the centre on a weekly basis. See flyer of upcoming events.
The Autonomüs Lab is now engaged in "resistance and rebellion", and throwing some fun and games to go along starting on Sunday 1st August. A three day non stop bike protest running along a circuit around Camden Town has been called, as well as a series of local actions which include "carring out random ID checks on the local population in a solidarity action with the palestinian people". Also the "Camden Town Apartheid Wall" will be erected by the Zapatista Palestine Solidarity Group. The Auonomüs Lab is also calling for active resistance to the eviction starting on Monday night, and will be providing food, zapatista coffee and sleeping space for everyone that makes it down to the occupied space at 50 Chalk Farm Road NW1.
More reports to follow ...
An Indymedia screening night is being organised tonight Friday 30th at the Grand Banks Occupied Social Centre. The address is: 156-158 Fortess Road, Tufnell Park, NW5. Opposite Tufnell Park tube station.
The screening is a benefit event in support of the Indymedia Italy Legal Support Team, that is currently working around the clock archiving about 1600 hours of photographic and video material. This evidence will then be used by the defense teams of the ongoing court cases against demonstrators brutalised during the anti-G8 protests of Genoa 2001.
The films being shown are all Indymedia Italy's edits, and include: Update 01, Nothing to Drop and Genoa: Denied Rights. Update 01 was the first video ever edited on the Genoa events, realesed the 10th of August 2001. Nothing to Drop (realesed in 2003) focusses on Carlo Giuliani's murder by a Carabinieri coscript, and Genoa: Denied Rights (released in 2004) is a general update on the different trials still open against demontrators as well as the police forces.
More info about Indymedia Italy Legal Support Team in their multilingual page.
Saturday 3rd July saw another event in Sheffield's festival season with Peace In The Park - a free festival set-up to try to raise some money, to raise consciousness and show solidarity with social struggles in Sheffield, the UK and around the world. The 'festival season' officially started two weeks ago at Heeley City Farm.
Despite the changeable weather, many local folk attended the event and many local campaign groups were present including the Sheffield Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, Sheffield Against The War and Sheffield Indymedia, Nether Edge Against the War, Earthed. The Sheffield Social Forum hosted the first Democracy Cafe, a space for political discussion with great food provided by New Roots. A music stage and several tents provided some lively sounds and there was also a healing field for chilling out. A wide range of underground films were shown throughout the day in the 'Video Yurt'.
Proceeds of the Festival will go to Sheffield ASSIST - a local charity providing advice and support for refugees and asylum seekers in the area - and WaterAid - an international non-governmental organisation dedicated exclusively to the provision of safe domestic water, sanitation and hygiene education to the world's poorest people.
A week long Exhibition of Resistance to BP and Big Oil, and the corporate hijacking of the arts is now under way on in London. A space has been squatted specially for the event [Photos]. The address is 50 Chalk Farm Road, Camden.
Update Tuesday 22nd: Another protest was called on Monday night during the BP sponsored awards ceremony at the Portrait Gallery. As protestors were gathering at around 7pm, four London Rising Tide activists chained themselves across the front door effectively shutting down the National Portrait Gallery. It was also announced that the alternative exhibition has been extended for a week, and it is now likely to be open until Saturday 26th June in the squatted gallery.
On Wednesday 16th climate change activists and artists held a 'Greenwash or US' Street Party outside BP HQ, many carrying artworks revealing a true portrait of an oil company. The street party then marched to the private view of the BP sponsored National Portrait Gallery Awards. When protesters tried to move towards the entrance of the National Gallery, police rapidly moved in and pushed people back. In the resulting scuffles one person got arrested for "not moving" [video of the arrest] The party then continued for several hours without any more incidents, and later in the evening it was followed by the opening of the art exhibition at the squatted venue [Report | Photos of street party].
Over the weekend, there will be daily workshops and events in the exhibition space as well as on the streets. These will include speakers from West Papua and Colombia, a Jam Night, film night, and lots of other fun stuff such as painting, subvertising, guerilla cinema, radio, food and discussion. See Programme of Events.
London Rising Tide | Burning Planet
As part of the Cowley Road Carnival, Oxford indymedia set up its first public live outdoor indymedia centre! It's behind the Zodiac, together with the Hammer and Tongue poetry slam space. It's open to everyone, there are computers to upload pictures and post articles, come and use the media centre!
All day, Oxford Indymedia will offer live reports and pictures from the carnival. Follow the links below, they will be continuously updated with more pictures and reports!
Report | Pictures      | Indymedia centre report and pictures
The planning for Leeds Social Centre is well underway. Another well attended meeting was held on Thursday 20th May. Discussions included possible building, the funding proposal and planning and licensing issues.
The next Social Centre planning meeting will be held on Thursday 10th June at the Packhorse Pub, Woodhouse Lane at 7pm. This will be followed by a social event including the screening of "The revolution will not be televised" - a documentary about the Venezuealan coup at 9pm.
Please come along and bring ideas and inspiration
The other topic of discussion at the last meeting were possible names for the centre. It was agreed that indymedia could be used as a space to suggest names anonymously.
Below are some names suggested at the meeting, please add your suggestions
On Friday 21st, Londons latest squatted social centre, the 'Ramparts', opened it's doors with a screening of 'Indefensible', the indymedia film about last years DSEi protests in East London. Yet another social centre opened in Oxford as a new squat was opened for the second OCSET social centre (the previous one having been evicted a couple of weeks earlier after a short but productive existance). In Scotland, a temporary social centre sprung up in Glasgow at the begining of May, with a prepacked daily schedule of events and workshop until the end of June.
There are many other autonomous social centres that have been established much longer, such as the Sumac centre in Nottingham, 56a and Use Your Loaf in South London, 1in12 in Bradford, LARC and Freedom in East London, the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh, Kebele in Bristol, the Cowley Club in Brighton and the Peoples Information Centre in Hebden Bridge, all of which need your active support.
Recent articles in IMC-UK newswire:
Grand banks resistance | Oxford's latest social centre | Use Your Loaf events | Printworks Social Centre (Glasgow) | The Ramparts, new london space | Proposals for social centre in Leeds: 1|2|3 | Efforts to build up social centre in Aberdeen 1 | 2
On May the first, international workers' day, the Glasgow Autonomous Project opened "Printworks", a social centre in the heart of Glasgow, under a now extended temporary lease till end of June. "Printworks" has been open now every day from noon till 9 pm, offering a space for events and workshops.
The aim is "to work together for social change, rather than depending on politicians and other bosses, to participate directly in building a better society through grassroots organisation."
[pictures, interview, report, announcement].
08-05-2004 18:51The last Leeds ARC meeting (Thursday 6th May) was dedicated to discussion about setting up a Social Centre in Leeds. Turn out was great with about 40 people coming along to Holy Trinity Church Café, Boar Lane to get involved.
Through the Dissent! network (a network of resistance against the G8 - the group of Eight most industrialised nations, whose 2005 summit will be held in Britain.) cash (max £10 K) may be available for local groups involved in the Dissent! network to set up and run a local Social Centre. Groups wishing to benefit from the cash are to submit their proposal/ideas for their social centre in about one month's time (actual
date not yet known).
Anarchism on wheels? Or just a bunch of cyclists getting together on a Friday evening? Sit back, close your eyes and imagine a thousand people cycling along a central London street... filling the street... there aren't any cars... the noise of the traffic is drowned out by music, whistles, bike bells and people having conversations while cycling together…
On the last Friday of April 1994 London’s first Critical Mass took place with about 50 cyclists, and this month's ride on Friday 30th April will be a celebration of 10 years of reclaiming London’s tarmac.
Local residents who took over a former Council building in West Yorkshire for five days over Easter have declared the occupation a resounding success. The residents occupied the former Tourist Information Centre in the Pennine town of Hebden Bridge.
The building has been handed to a developer to convert into apartment flats and a restaurant, rumoured to be part of the Harry Ramsden chain. The occupiers said they wanted to highlight the threat the former textile community is under from unsustainable development and soaring house prices. They opened a Free Shop, called "Freesources", offering tea, food, clothes, books and toys for free, stating "we believe that without profit, there is plenty for all." They also gave out "tourist information" such as "don't fly anywhere – it's destroying the planet! Take the train instead."
The locals opened the building to the public on the morning of Thursday April 8. Jim Brown, the centre's new owner, well-known in Hebden for turning a series of buildings into upmarket apartments, attempted to have them removed by the police. However the police acknowledged that the locals were legally "squatting" the building, and Brown's representatives left amicably after boarding up a window. "This conveniently supplied us with a dark room to show films during the daytime!" said an occupier.
We sat at candlelit tables and drank from crystal wine glasses to enjoy the two-course meal [pictures]. One such happy table sat on the pavement outside, giving passers-by an opportunity to see the positive purpose of the OCSET space. Children and pets felt very welcome. Diners contributed a small donation and/or helped to cook, serve and clean.
OCSET is intended as an open space for organising events, of which the cafe is just one, and welcomes everyone's planning and ideas. More cafe evenings are set as groups come together to run them; the next one will be on Tuesday, 20th April, 7:00pm. Skip TESCO, eat at OCSET!
Open Office Invitation!
Also, an office and meeting room for free community use is to be opened at OCSET. We hope to be able to connect ADSL (broadband fast internet connection) soon. To get the office kitted up, what we need now is donations of gear (CPUs, accessories, etc, etc); just drop it in at OCSET.
Oxford indymedia will be running the office space for now, so if any community group would like to use it for a meeting, just contact us by e-mail at imc-oxford [at] lists.indymedia.org, or contact OCSET directly at oxsocial [at] linuxmail.org .
Update April 15: Direct action over Easter weekend saves the Roundhouse [Photos and ReportsOver Easter, sympathisers from across England and Wales, are converging on the Pembrokeshire National Park to protest at the ordered demolition of Tony Wrench's roundhouse (see previous feature) and the double standards displayed by the planning authority who have given outline permission for a Bluestones holiday centre in the park, consisting of 340 log cabins imported from Eastern Europe, and 60 studio flats.
The protesters plan to occupy land in the Park, erect another turf-roofed roundhouse, and to hold an "Ideal Low Impact Home Exhibition" (see info).
See The Land Is Ours
The office space that has been created in the new oxford social centre is still mainly empty at the moment. It would be perfect for grassroots activist groups looking for a place to meet, etc., and as a space to organise workshops, training, etc. We hope loads of groups will feel able to use OCSET.
The main meeting area would be excellent for workshops, social events, screenings, cultural and artistic activities, etc. Workshops for kids after school or dancing lessons and meetings can be held there too. Other ideas include an alternative library, an infopoint for activism, and many more - it's open to anyone who wants to get involved! Just drop in and arrange a time; there's a calendar on the wall. Bring your own ideas!
Events planned this week:
See the above calendar or the one on the wall in OCSET.
People there need loads of things but mainly more people! Also computers and tools to fix things, sofas to sit on, sofabeds, big cooking pots, plates, cups, food and carpets and bookshelves and the books to go on them. People at OCSET can be reached by email on oxsocial [at] linuxmail.org .
Use the space or lose the space!
Reports:   | Pictures:  | OCSET (Oxford Social Centre) website: http://free.hostdepartment.com/o/oxsocial/ | General info about squats: Advisory Service for Squatters
The feared illegal eviction did not take place on Monday 8th, however increased numbers of bailiffs, police, and contractors have been cutting down the larger trees. Work was recently stopped on Saturday 7th, while on Friday afternoon Costain sub contractors (Walters) drove a tractor through a human chain of activists who were preventing logs from leaving a field (read report).
A High Court reprieve from eviction was granted on 4th March - the case will go back to court the week of March 22nd, however Costain and sub-contractors continue to illegally destroy protected species habitat. The word is that a team of 36 chainsaws will be deployed soon, while rumors say the team of bailiffs at Blackwood are earmarked to later move on to evict Nine Ladies protest camp. Also see Destruction Pictures | Bristol Indymedia Feature reports | Sub-contractor details | CorporateWatch on Blackwood.
Sherwood Campaign: 10th March: Council requests that Bellway reconsider development plans!. They have asked them to come back in one weeks time to propose a timescale for new proposals.
8th March: There are strong indications that an eviction is probably imminent, with the authorities scheduling the necessary preparatory meetings in the next days. On 25th February, Rob, a young lad in his early twenties, lost his footing on a walkway almost 50ft up when he slipped on an icy platform , he suffered multiple injuries, but has recovered well.
At Ossary Road in London, the last area of land being squatted against Asda/Walmart, has been served court papers, with an eviction expected on 11th March. This comes after one and a half years of campaigning and resistance against 6 evictions.
The Bilston Glen Protest Site has recently held an open day, while activists at Nine Ladies anti-quarry protest site are continuing their campaign and expect results of an appeal at the end of the month (see latest pics and report).
Also see Protest Site FAQ | Protest Camp List | Road Alert | How to counter common motoring myths