Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

London Streets

Squall 5, Oct/Nov 1993, pg. 29.

A squat definitely in the news at the moment is Rutland Park Mansions in Willesden, London. The property is home to about 150 people, many of them Squatters, but is under threat of eviction.

Brent Council, the owners, want to demolish it and sell the site to Paddington Churches Housing Association. However, the residents of the block, English Heritage, the London Victoria Association and other local residents are all against the proposal for homeless-ness/heritage reasons. Although Bent Council have branded it ‘The dirtiest squat in Europe”, local residents consider it, not only to be clean, but also architecturally irreplaceable. The council even have a security film guarding the remaining empty flat in the mansions, as part of a campaign against Squatters.

When the matter was taken to High Court in September, the 6pm edition of ‘Around London’ - an ITV programme, reported its adjournment due to the Squatters having disrupted proceedings. A muted apology on the 10pm edition of the programme however, admitted that their on-the-spot reporter, Keith Peacock, had got it completely wrong. The case was adjourned because of the complex nature of the case. Much to the annoyance of the judge, Brent Council thought the case to be a cut-and-dried possession forthwith only booking it in for a quick 10 minute turn around.

What many people may not realise, as they watch their children entertained by circus performers, is that many of these clowns and jugglers come from the squatting/travelling community. Recently in Stoke Newington, London, a household of squatters organised a street party, entertaining both children and adults with juggling and stilt-walking displays. As a result of this close encounter between Joe Public and Joe Squatter (neighbours), 100 people signed a petition asking that the squatters be allowed to stay.

The ALL LONDON SQUATTERS meeting was held at the CoolTan Arts centre, Brixton, on 26th September. Attended by over 70 people, the meeting had good representation from squatters all over London.

The main emphasis of the discussion was placed on the need to establish an efficient network for squatters from London, as well as the rest of the country. Also discussed were problems with essential services (electricity, water) and the perpetual headache of the false PIO.

All the established London squatters' groups were represented, as well as several new ones. The ease of communication fuelled the impression of a strong, growing campaign.

A representative from the meeting hoped that more meetings would be convened at different locations throughout London and perhaps elsewhere in the country. “It’s only by networking with other squatters that the squatting community will defeat criminalisation,” he said.