Bilderberg supremo Ken Clarke's homeless punishment law in Belsize Park

Tony Gosling tony at
Sat Mar 15 12:05:54 GMT 2014

Police raid crushes squatting protest in Belsize Park
Arrests: police smash their way into the building 
in Southampton Road, Belsize Park, and, top 
right, lead a man away. Bottom right, the 
squatters’ banner Picture: Alex Lentati 

  Mark Blunden  Published: 26 February 2014

Police have raided a building that was occupied 
by squatters in protest at the sell-off of public housing.
About 10 people had been staying in the former 
council-owned property "in shifts" before 
officers used a battering ram to smash the front door.
A man and a woman were arrested and taken away in 
a riot van. Another man was bundled to the 
pavement but later released without charge. A 
sergeant at the scene said the pair were held on 
suspicion of breaking the Legal Aid, Sentencing 
and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, which 
criminalises squatting in a residential building.
The released man, who gave his name as Harris 
Fletcher, 23, said: "We’re here to protest about 
the sell-off of council housing. We came to 
support the people inside after hearing the 
police were illegally threatening to break in."
The property in Southampton Road, Belsize Park, 
includes a former party shop and flats above. 
Neighbours said it had been  empty and had fallen 
into disrepair. Camden council sold it at auction 
for £860,000. Two others nearby fetched £1.52 million.
Camden said the buildings were commercial 
premises with "live/work" flats and proceeds from 
the sales would help  finance 1,100 new council 
homes. The occupation was organised by Camden 
Housing Action Group, which accused the Labour 
council of breaking a promise not to sell housing stock.
There are more than 27,000 people on the 
borough’s housing waiting list. Anna Gardener, of 
the action group, said the sell-off was 
"exacerbating the housing crisis and amounts to 
social cleansing as low-income residents are forced out of Zones 1 and 2".
Theo Blackwell, Camden’s cabinet member for 
finance, said: "I’ve sympathy with any protester 
who says no to selling off council homes, but 
they’ve got the wrong end of the stick. These 
buildings were never council flats. They were 
coming to the end of their leases. We’re using 
the money to build council homes down the road."
A 28-year-old woman and a 27-year-old man were 
charged with trespassing in a residential 
building and will appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates on Friday. 
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