UK Free Spaces Feature Archive
On Wednesday 28th June the J B Spray building in Radford was squatted. It was illegally evicted by the police on Friday 30th June and reoccupied on Saturday 1st July. A new squat is born in Squattingham!
Built in 1870 the historic lace mill, a grade 2 listed building, has sat empty for years while the owner apparently seeks community uses for the property. Unwilling to see such a beautiful building left to rot this inspired group is seeking to answer both their own need for housing and the wider community need to reclaim spaces like these as social spaces to share and bring people together.
Links to more information and pictures about the squats' progress
J B Spray Building Occupied / Evicted / Reoccupied | Spray Building Squat, Radford: A Guided Tour | Spray Squat Party 1 : Acoustic Gig | Spray Building Squat : Nottingham County Court Appearance | Spray Squat Party 2 : Acoustic Gig, with diner |
The Square occupied social centre, based at 21 Russell Square, London [Map], was facing eviction fom Friday, June 23rd. A call out was made to resist the eviction and to hold a Festival of Resistance, involving autonomous groups, social centres activists, live bands, DJs and participants from The Square.
On Friday, 23rd June, around 60-70 people followed the call for solidarity and to resist the eviction from the early morning. The building was festooned with an array of flags and banners, and the mood was light but determined. Apart from a couple of oficers from Camden Council that eventually turned up, made some telephone calls and then left, no other form of 'authority' showed up or attempted eviction. [Mid morning update | Pics 1 | 2 | 3]
On Saturday, around 400 people attended the concert in support of The Square, which featured live music in two stages and a couple of sound systems in the basement [Report]. A talk and film screening about repression in Mexico also took place in the evening, organized by Z.A.P.
On Sunday, around 30 people including most of those who had had a sustained relationship with the space, came together to decide the term of the resistance that had begun on Friday. This gathering eventually came up with a dissolution communique of The Square Occupied Social Centre, which informs that "the space has now been passed on to a handful of residents who wished to remain and a few people who wanted to continue to run the place as a political and cultural venue", and it ends stating:
"Something has passed from central London into our hearts. The red and black will not fly over Russell Square much longer but we carry them in exile, and we will have another building in due course".
The Matilda Social Centre in Sheffield has now been vacated and 111 Matilda Street is once again a empty building left to rot, RIP Matilda. The names of most of the bands that played the building in the last year have been painted in the windows and poems have been written and songs dedicated.
The final chapter in Matilda's story started on 14th June 2006, one year on from the G8 protests that were based in the Matilda Convergence Centre, Yorkshire Forward, the owners of the building, tried to evict the social centre on health and safety grounds but this was resisted and the building was squatted. The events of the day were reported on BBC Radio Sheffield.
The squat didn't last long however, "30 persons unknown" were due in court for tresspass on Thursday 22nd June at Sheffield County Court and pages from this web site were cited as evidence. There was a protest outside but the case was lost — the judge awarded possession for Yorkshire Forward and their agents asked that the building be vacated by 9am on Tuesday 27th June.
An open letter was written to Jan Wilson, the leader of Sheffield Council, about the eviction and people started to move things out of the building. There was no big farewell party and on Tuesday morning some people turned up for the handover of the building, it made page 2 of the Sheffield Star, but Yorkshire Forward failed to appear.
Several days after the Matilda Collective had abandoned the building Yorkshire Forward secured it and installed a 24-hour security guard and surveillance equipment.
In the end "the energy seemed to have flowed out of the Matilda collective and the will to resist had gone", much like in London where another social centre, The Square, which was facing eviction and resisted for a week before issuing a dissolution communique, "it very quickly became clear that there simply wasn't the energy to go on".
Some events that were due to take place in Matilda have been cancelled, others like the Indymedia "Summer of Truth" film festival have been relocated and some have yet to find a new home.
Matilda and the huge number of events that took place there won't be forgotten in a hurry and perhaps the moles of the Matilda Collective will reemerge somewhere else and reclaim another abandoned building...
Nottingham Arboretum celebrates with a Green Festival embracing all things green. Live bands, fun for children and sustainable produce. Stalls, including crafts, plants, local produce, energy conservation demonstrations, wind and solar power, social struggles and human rights issues etc and plenty of other organic, eco-friendly activities.
It is hard to believe but it is nearly twelve months since the old Yorkshire Arts Space on Matilda Street sprung into life as a convergence space for activists opposing the G8 Ministers meeting in Sheffield. Within days a makeshift kitchen had been set up, sleeping space sorted, workshop space organised and a media centre built and banners flew defiantly from the building. As the actions sprung up across the city, the Matilda Street convergence centre buzzed into the nights with people painting banners, planning, sharing information and skills, checking indymedia reports and uploading stories and photos. While one eye was firmly on the exhausting days of the protest against the G8, already one eye was on what the future could hold for this building.
Update (15/05/06): A small group of bailiffs came and photographed the perimeter of the site around lunchtime today.
Boaters occupying Castle Mill boatyard in Jericho are facing an eviction sometime in the next three weeks, with a first visit from the bailiffs expected this Monday (15th May).
The yard, an indispensable facility for Oxford's narrowboat community, has been occupied since July last year to block British Waterways' attempt to sell the site on to property developers. The emphasis has been on keeping the site going as a working boatyard, and 8 boats have now been craned onto the yard for essential repairs and maintainence, something that no other yard in the area can do.
Despite boaters raising huge public support, defeating the original plan by Bellway Homes to build housing on the site, getting the city council to pass a motion of support and pointing out British Waterways' obligation in law to provide vital services for Oxford's residential boaters, the eviction and development plans are still ploughing on with a mindless momentum of their own, probably fuelled by Oxford's high property prices.
If you would be able to help out in the event of an eviction, join the phone tree by texting your number to the site mobile (07788 915545), emailing email@example.com or ringing the site office (01865 559481). Or get down to the boatyard in person!
[ latest report | Campaign Website | Other ways to help ]
[ old reports: Bellway plan defeated | Boatyard occupied ]
A group of activists in Birmingham have managed to open Adshel bus shelters, where they put commercial adverts, using Allen keys, and have been using the space to advertise grassroots actions, such as the No Borders demonstration at Harmondsworth detention centre on 8 April, 2006.
See photos | video
The campaign to save Sharp Hill is stepping up this weekend with live music and a fresh call for support. A group of activists - with strong support from the community - have been camping at the site near Edwalton for a month in protest against Rushcliffe Borough Council's plan to build 1200 houses. They have pledged to stay at least until June 15 when the council makes its final decision, and encourage everyone to join them. A central government inspector's report opposed the council's plan. Read it (Sharphill from page 14), with the council's response.
Site photos: BBC 'Politics Show' visit | Camp Piccys | What's going to be lost, Landscape Piccys | Activist in Market Sq Photos | Hands Across the Hill Pictures | Bus Living at Wilford Hill [an earlier site]
Aerial Views Sharphill Woods Satellite view
Audio Interview: Tash's podcast of the BBC interview [6:26mins 2.6Mb]
Links: Campaigners' response to planning document | Activists' statement | Announcement, directions and map | BBC Politics Show | BBC Politics Show watch again [RM from 14:30mins] | Rushcliffe Council: Response to Inspector's Report and Proposed Modifications | 'Savesharphill' a NEW website
Indymedia always needs more volunteers and at the moment the IMC UK network in particular is seeking more tech help so that it can be more active in the development of the content management program used by many IMC sites. It is really important to increase the developer pool since many proposals made for improving the site are stalling at the tech bottleneck.
If you think you could help please get in touch with your local collective or email imc-uk-tech. You could also mention this to anyone else you think might be able to help.
If you'd like to develop your own tech skills, you might be interested in the various Hacklab projects around the country which host regular training and workshops. The rampART lab for example provides a useful venue for anyone wanting to become more involved in indymedia.
On Saturday 25th the London Hacklabs Collective is putting on a benefit event to help cover the cost of the broadband both at the rampART and Freedom Book Shop. You can find more details about the event from the rampART or the Hacklabs website. The event will be a workshop about IMC tech and various IMC projects.
After four contested ballots, £millions of taxpayers money spent and five years of resistance to Leeds City Council's drive to demolish 435 council homes and replace them with private housing, the moment of truth has finally arrived for tenants of the Little London housing estate. The Council has just announced in a press statement that tenants have overwhelmingly backed controversial plans for an £85m regeneration scheme under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) after a highly disputed door-to-door consultation process in February. Despite consistent opposition from both the Little London Tenants and Residents Association and the Save Little London Campaign, Council officers are now expected to make their recommendation to the Council Executive in April to go ahead with the controversial 'Comprehensive Regeneration Option'.
But the PFI scheme is far from a done deal. At a community action day last Sunday (5 March), local residents and campaigners vowed ‘to fight on and win’ regardless of the Council’s decision. Possible courses of action include standing independent candidates in the May local elections, a legal challenge to the alleged irregularities and bias of the Council's consultation process, and alternative proposals for regenerating the area. As part of the fightback, this Tuesday (14 March) at midday, a lobby of tenants and campaigners will march from Little London Community Centre to Leeds Town Hall to make their voices heard outside a Stakeholders Meeting between the Council and tenants representatives.
- Full Story and background
- Short campaign film 'Little London - the story so far'
- Eye witness account of biased consultation
- Campaign reports: January Picket of Council and Call out; Save Little London Community Day, 5 March
- Anger of Leeds Council tenants at alleged corruption
- Mainstream media reports: Council accuses 'left-wingers of misleading tenants'; Campaigners reply 'Tenants misled over Little London'
- Related stories about Leeds City Gentrification: 'City Flats to Become Height of Fashion'
On Monday 20th of February, local activists from Hackney, London, occupied three Victorian and Georgian buildings in order to stop the threat of demolition. The intention is to turn them into a community and social centre, instead of seeing the buildings sold off to private developers. The site consists of the Victorian Dalston Theatre and a pair of Georgian townhouses. Although some officials argue they are in a derelict state, members of the community are convinced that the theatre has a big potential as a cultural, social and community resource [Photos and Report]
At about 8am, council officers turned up and told the occupiers that they had to vacate the building by 9 or they would send in the police to evict them. Later in the morning, workmen from Byline (the contractors hired by Hackney Council) and police forced entry to the occupied theatre. Activists then climbed to the buidling's rooftops to defend the occupation, and have been up there to the day. [Read thoughts from the people resisting the demolition]
On Wednesday March 1st the case went to the High Court in a drive by Hackney council to rush the eviction. The Court unexpectedly refused to decide on the case, and ruled that the Council's claim for possession "should be transferred to the County Court" [report] On Friday March 3rd Shoreditch County Court issued an Interim Possession Order, which gives 24 hours to the occupiers to vacate the buildings. On Saturday 4th, a Guerrilla Screening and Open meeting were organised in the street outside the Theatre.
An eviction can now happen at any time, and the occupiers call for everyone to go down there and support the resistance when it happens. Call 07919998567 for the latest info.
- Tuesday March 14th (Occupant's statement at Shoreditch County Court)
- Saturday March 4th (Guerrilla Screening and Open meeting ... resistance to the eviction starts)
- Friday March 3rd (Theatre faces an imminent eviction following Interim Possession Order)
- Wednesday March 1st (Occupation wins in High Court but eviction proceedings continue)
- Tuesday 28th (To the people of Dalston, Why we are here)
- Monday 27th (Social Centre opens ... all welcome)
- Saturday 25th
- Tuesday 21st [more and pics]
In São Paulo, Brazil, major José Serra has made it his mission to 'gentrify' the city centre and ultimately expel thousands of the low-earning families and street dwellers. He wants to evict 'Prestes Maia', a 22 storey tower block, probably the biggest single squat in the whole of South America which is home to 468 families, a library, workshops, and a venue for numerous autonomous educational, social and cultural activities. Now the 'apparent owner' wants it emptied. The 'owner' has accumulated a debt in municipal taxes of around 1.5 million pounds during the last 15 years of 'ownership' (more than he paid for the building). This, together with long years of abandonment, should justify a claim for the building to become public property, but despite this, a massive police operation paid for by public money was planned to make over 1,600 people homeless in the name of gentrification.
However, the residents of Prestes Maia have enjoyed a last minute reprieve and the eviction has been postponed for at least two months. Nether-the-less, on Thursday 16th, people in London held a solidarity demo outside the Brazillian Embassy [ Call out | report and photos | video ]. In the evening, a film about Prestes Maia was screened at the rampART social centre along with a UK premiere of documentary about police violence in the favelas of Rio.
Interest in the idea of social centres is still very high amongst the radical/anarchist milieu. Meanwhile a small group from the popular education collective Trapese have been travelling the country interviewing people involved in current social centres for a new book provisionally titled 'a handbook for autonomy and creation' due out in June 2006. But why haven't we got many places that can live up to the name "social centres"? What were the problems politically with previous attempts of social centres? What can we learn? What is next? Last month thirty people attended a wombles meeting in London to discuss just these issues and now a similar discussion planned to take place in Leeds at the end of January has started to turn into a national gathering of social centres.
- Infousurpa - a new 'social centres' event listings project
- Gathering in Leeds 29th Jan
- YES, we're open ! - article about Nottinghams Social Spaces
- Abandoned for over 7 years... Reclaimed back for community use
Your views sought...
The Sumac Cafe is in crisis, due to a shortage of volunteers. It is in danger of closing and an important meeting is planned to look at possible solutions. These might include reinventing the nature of the cafe, perhaps doing more 'special nights', such as the monthly People's Kitchen events, instead of serving the breakfasts during weekends.
The meeting will be held on Friday 13th January, 7pm at the Sumac Centre, 245 Gladstone Street, Forest Fields, Nottingham, NG7 6HX. All people with an interest in the cafe, or ideas about how it could or should be run, are most welcome.
Contact: email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aiming at making effective community use of the soon to be empty Howard Mallett centre, a group has been set up to put forward proposals for the space.
The centre, in Cambridge’s densely populated Petersfield ward on Sturton Street, has a long history of community usage and features a gym, radio recording room, café area and further office and community rooms. However, it is soon to be vacated by current lease-holders Dawe Media and the new tenants, charity Citylife, will take a long time to carry through their plans of knocking the building down to construct a ‘social innovation incubation centre’.
The new group is connecting with people with ideas for how the space should be used, which so far include a range of community media, arts, youth, sport and soup kitchen proposals.
New group list: email@example.com
and their website
Nottingham Police, allied with authoritarians at the local council and the Home Office, have been wasting taxpayers' money on a wave of offensive posters intended to terrorise dissidents and the socially excluded. This campaign has escalated with attempts to terrorise those involved in subvertising the posters.
Recent instances have included the return of the especially sinister anti-begging campaign, where the state spreads slanderous accusations accusing beggars of bankrolling drug dealers. This campaign has been connected in previous years to deaths of homeless people in cold weather, and to physical assaults on homeless people due to incitement by the posters. The campaign even led to violence and reduced revenue for Big Issue vendors who are engaged in an entirely legal activity.
Update 9 jan:Possible eviction on 10 Jan, 6am
On 5th December, members of the community occupied the cafe in time to prevent demolition. Evicted on 21 December, the cafe was demolished, then reoccupied on boxing day. Papers have been served on the occupiers, who were due in court on Friday 9th December. They are receiving support from local people and welcome visitors. Another eviction is expected any time.
The leaseholder of Francesca's Cafe at no.34 was evicted from his premises in the summer, and the building was sold to Market House Ltd., a property development company owned by Dr. Roger Wratten, who has also acquired other properties in the Market which he intends to turn into flats. Dr. Wratten was able to snap up the properties at bargain prices, despite the fact that leaseholders of several properties, including Francesca's, had been trying to buy the freeholds for years.
The sell-off resulted after sustained financial irregularities by Hackney Council, and the Estate Agents appointed to handle the sale are believed to have sold of £225m worth of properties for a mere £70m, thus increasing the burden on council-tax payers in the Borough who will be forced to pick up the debts created through the council's ineptitude. The people of Hackney have already suffered closure of amenities, privatisation of services and demolition of schools. Property values in the Borough are expected to rocket as developers clamour for sites to accommodate the Olympics in 2012.
The eviction of St Agnes Place in Kennington (South London) by Lambeth Council finally took place on Tuesday 29th, after years of court battles and previous eviction attempts [Report]. The oldest squatted street in London was swarmed with hundreds of riot police the whole day, as residents were resisting the bailiffs and specialist climbers that were emptying the street of its 150 strong community set up 30 years ago [Photos 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 and Video]. Throughout the day there were reports of police stopping people on their way to show support to St Agnes Place residents outside Oval, Kennington, Stockwell and Brixton tubes. Later in the evening there was a demonstration outside Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton to celebrate St Agnes Place community, as well as to show support to the people that has become homeless as a result of the eviction [Photos 1 and 2].
By mid-afternoon there were still three houses resisting the eviction, as residents and supporters pledged to hold for as long as they could. But later in the evening, reports came in that the last resisting squatter had been removed from the remaining occupied house in an ambulance, as the eviction was brutally completed [Video]. He was taken to hospital after he was badly beaten on the head with truncheons. Click here for St Agnes place map and location.
Latest info and Timeline of Events
Netcast from Wireless FM live here - a free radio that has been broadcasting from number 81 in St. Agnes Place for the last two years.
More info on St Agnes Place from the Indymedia archives.
Update 25.11.2005: The judge granted an immediate eviction order in the court case "Occupiers of Dalkeith Country Park vs. Scottish Ministers" in Edinburgh's Sheriff Court on Friday.
Eviction is anticipated to take place anytime from now on. Campaigners pledge for more people to come now to help them. .
Report, 23.11.2005 Nearly three weeks ago, protesters set-up a tree-sit in Dalkeith County Park near Edinburgh to protest the creation of a new A68 bypass through the park, an important wildlife habitat and tourist attraction.
Yesterday, authorities cut five trees down before being stopped by protesters.
For more information:
[ Original Call for Support | Press Release and Directions to Treesit | Pictures of Tree-sit in Dalkeith | october feature | Save Dalkeith Park! website | Bilston Woods Protest Camp]