case u missed it - BBC R4: Squatting a history

Tony Gosling tony at
Sun Dec 4 22:16:04 GMT 2011

  “Extraordinarily serious and threatening”, 
Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King very 
worried about Eurogeddon. IMF runs out of cash & 
politics of Occupy Movement: former Wall Street 
broker Max Keiser talks to Economist Karl 
Denninger of Divide and rule 
policy leaves a bloody legacy, Tamil freedom 
campaigner Ram Selvaratnam talks about modern 
political history of Sri-Lanka (Ceylon). Former 
US General Wesley Clarke describes secret 
Pentagon plan to invade Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, 
Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran. Earth Into 
Property by Anthony J. Hall. Convergence of the 
crises: 24 Pakistani soldiers killed by US 
helicopter gunships so Pakistan cuts off NATO’s 
Afghanistan supply lines. Prelude to war? Foreign 
Secretary William Hague closes Iranian embassy in 
London. Nuclear war looming at the same time as 
Eurogeddon. Do bankers have a nasty surprise for 
us after the crash: former Hollywood film 
producer Aaron Russo recounts Nick Rockefeller’s 
plan to replace money with human microchip 
(Verichip?) RFID implants. Ram’s recommended 
websites & Tamil Solidarity.

Squatting: a history. Progress to the future

audio download here

tash | 04.12.2011 21:00 | Occupy Everywhere | 
Free Spaces | Repression | Social Struggles
BBC Radio 4 program: From Frestonia to Belgravia, The History of Squatting

  - mp3 34M

If justice secretary Ken Clarke has his way, 
squatting in residential property will soon be a 
criminal offence with those found guilty facing a 
fine of up to £5,000 or a prison sentence of a year – perhaps both.

Although the coalition government has made no 
secret of its desire to criminalise squatting, 
the proposals are being quietly introduced by way 
of an amendment to the legal aid, sentencing and punishment of offenders bill.

We are in an economic climate where jobs are 
being lost and public sector spending cuts are 
biting. There is a shortage of affordable 
housing, whether rented or owned, and rising 
levels of child poverty. Proposed restrictions on 
welfare benefits will only serve to exacerbate 
the problem: research suggests that up to 133,000 
workless households in London will be unable to 
pay their rent under the reforms.

Recently the Centre for Regional Economic and 
Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University 
undertook research on behalf of Crisis about the 
nature and extent of squatting. The final report 
revealed some interesting and worrying statistics:

• Around 78% of homeless people who squat have 
approached a local authority for help, but 
although recognised as homeless they have not 
been entitled to housing because they are not in 
priority need or are considered intentionally homeless.

• Many squatters have significant welfare needs: 
34% of homeless people who squat had been in 
care; 42% had physical ill health or a 
disability; 41% reported mental health problems.

• Homeless people who squat occupy empty buildings.

• Squats are often in poor condition, lacking 
running water, heating and electricity, with 
damp, broken windows and unsafe stairwells.

Given the current levels of housing shortage, is 
it really wrong for empty properties to be used 
in this way when the alternative is a life on the 
streets? Should the state be paying for the 
consequences of criminalising the actions of those in desperate housing need?

The government has produced an impact assessment 
specifically for the proposed new offence of 
squatting, which suggests that there could be 
between 350 and 4,200 defendants accused of the 
offence in any one year. Given that the vast 
majority of squatters will have no financial 
means with which to pay a fine, prison may well 
be the only viable option left open to the 
courts. It is therefore quite conceivable that 
the prison population (and attendant cost to the 
state) will continue to grow. In times of austerity, is that responsible?

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Die Pride and Envie; Flesh, take the poor's advice.
Covetousnesse be gon: Come, Truth and Love arise.
Patience take the Crown; throw Anger out of dores:
Cast out Hypocrisie and Lust, which follows whores:
Then England sit in rest; Thy sorrows will have end;
Thy Sons will live in peace, and each will be a friend. 
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