Violent scenes in Rushcroft road as up to 75 squatters evicted: Video and pictures

Written by on July 15, 2013 in Housing, News, Uncategorized - 45 Comments

rushcroft evictions 1.jpg

Violent scenes erupted in central Brixton today as dozens of bailiffs moved in to forcibly evict squatters from their homes in Rushcroft Road.

Up to 75 people removed from six blocks of flats. The video below captures the moment outside Clarence House when about 20 bailiffs cleared protestors to get access to the mansion block.

Earlier on this morning some people set fire to wheelie bins in protest at the evictions which Lambeth council say are necessary to clear the “unlawful” tenants. Police lines prevented protestors from getting near to flats being cleared.

Warning: videos contain strong language

Police have said one man was arrested for assault and criminal damage.

Commenting on Brixton Blog earlier, Celyn said the actions were “shocking”:

“A letter a few weeks ago suggesting eviction proceedings would begin from today. NO warrants or eviction notices have been given, and many of the residents, with life long medical conditions, have had virtually no help with being re-housed.”

One resident, Peter Piotrkowski, told the Evening Standard: “I was moving slowly because I can’t run and they pushed me twice. I’m going to be homeless now. I’m on benefits, £72 a week. I can’t find any place for that money and I need to keep some money for food.”

Protestors chanted scum and remonstrated with police as bailiffs smashed windows and doors of some of the victorian mansion blocks. The action marks the end of a two year battle by Lambeth council to clear the buildings before selling them off, partly for luxury apartments and 22 units for “affordable” housing.

Lambeth council said today: “We are taking action this week because it is unfair on the thousands of residents in need of housing in Lambeth that a small minority have been unlawfully squatting in six mansion blocks on Rushcroft Road, Brixton, and not paying any rent or council tax.

“Following the eviction of the unauthorised occupants, three of the six blocks in Rushcroft Road will be sold to bring the remaining three blocks back into use as 22 new homes for social rent. This is one example of our work to deliver better homes for Lambeth residents.

A spokesman added that the authority has been in “regular dialogue” with residents, and had offered support throughout the process.

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Tim Dickens is co-founder of Brixton Blog

45 Comments on "Violent scenes in Rushcroft road as up to 75 squatters evicted: Video and pictures"

  1. Marge July 17, 2013 at 5:59 pm ·

    Surely squatting is about temporarily living in a property while it’s unused or unwanted. As soon as it’s needed it should be vacated so it can be put to better use, i.e. to raise funds for things that the council can no longer afford (thanks to the Tory freeze on council tax increases). The squatting community must have known that these flats wouldn’t be available to them for eternity. Sad as it is to see this sort of thing happening, perhaps it’s time to add up how much money they’ve saved by not paying rent (and council tax – if that’s to be believed) over the last 20 – 30 years and count themselves lucky compared to most other Lambeth residents.

  2. OldTimer July 17, 2013 at 1:26 pm ·

    There’s a lot of incorrect assumptions in the comments and rabidly right wing ones that would be better housed on the Daily Mail or Sun comments section.

    I’m a local and actually these places were offered by Lambeth via a short-life scheme for nominal rent in return for maintaining and renovating the properties(I know, because I was offered one over 30 years ago). I didn’t accept as short-life seemed too insecure. At some point (I think about 20 years ago?) Lambeth stopped accepting the rent.

    One thing I know, having lived here, had kids here, and seen grandchildren off to college, is that Lambeth behave appallingly towards its residents in ways not just connected with housing. Sometimes it’s sheer ineptitude, sometimes it’s fraud (anyone else remember the 20 million quid that disappeared without trace?). It’s got steadily worse as the decades have gone by.

    • Juliet July 17, 2013 at 5:35 pm ·

      and now Lambeth have changed their mind and want them back to in turn reduce the wider Council tax burden

      Life happens like that!

  3. Caroline christian July 16, 2013 at 9:37 pm ·

    What i object to as much as the gentrification is the accompanying ethnic cleansing that is going on – with every yuppie who is prepared to pay high rent prices and every Sainsburys and Tesco that moves in to Coldharbour Land and Brixton Road – goes a North African, Portuguese, Pakistani or Iranian shopkeeper and his family from this area. Brixton will become more bland and sterile.

  4. Bridget Chapman July 16, 2013 at 4:51 pm ·

    Lambeth left these flats vacant for years.The flats were occupied by those who needed a home, and who created a community. Now they violently evict those people in order to make three blocks of flats available for the rich. Not in my name. I condemn this action wholeheartedly. It disgusts me.

    • Juliet July 17, 2013 at 5:38 pm ·

      and we’ll just overlook that I and other residents subsidised their council services whilst they took from them, availed themselves of them and paid no council tax.

      That makes it right does it?

      I take it passive evictions would be more to your liking?

  5. Marah July 16, 2013 at 4:04 pm ·

    What has happened to my lovely home? Is it really now full of people spitting bile and fury out against people who have been chucked onto the street? Since when did we all just assume that buying a place was better for the community than renting anyway? Or berating people who’ve been part of this community for 30+ years, deciding they haven’t ‘contributed’ to the community because they’ve been squatting? 30 years ago these flats were empty and falling down and homeless people moved into them. The council was delighted to ignore this and pass over the responsibility of upkeep and maintenance to the residents who have done it for free. I knew many of the people who moved in in 1980, they wanted to rent them as licenced squatters ( a common device councils used then to save them and rate payers pots of money ) but the council preferred the status quo. These people have lived and contributed to our community for decades. Now suddenly it seems we’ve all swallowed that us-and-them narrative to such an extent that the only thing we’re bothered about is a bin-fire and grabbing a choice bit of real estate for a knock-down price.

  6. TJ July 16, 2013 at 3:52 pm ·

    If you do not pay your council tax then you have absolutely no right to live in the bulding or complain about being evicted, you are not entitled to a home because you are from the area. For those people moaning about squatters not being able to afford the prices, don’t live in central London!

    • Rod of correction July 17, 2013 at 12:45 pm ·

      You sound heartless and soulless. Ever thought about what Social Housing is about? What Community is about? Your ‘if you can’t afford it, don’t live there’ attitude is a disgusting capitalist ideal, which is to be strongly condemmed. It comes from an extremely selfish perspective and is fundamentally the root of societies ills.

      • Juliet July 17, 2013 at 5:39 pm ·

        its also realistic and practical innit though ?

  7. Kay Bak July 16, 2013 at 11:41 am ·

    As a Brixtonite ( and i have been for as decade, arriving with nothing but a backpack), I think its a little weird that people here in Brixton seem top think they’re alone in this problem.

    London is a world hub. It is that simple. (Moreso than New York or anywhere else)

    There will ALWAYS be a ticking clock against low property prices, or free accommodation inside a few miles of at the centre of a world hub. This isnt emotive “Yuppies Stay” talk – this is just financial fact.

    To think that people can live there ( here ) inexpensively indefinitely is dangerously naive. Not because of where it is, because of what it is. Its on the best tube line, its 10 minutes from town and its got a great feel.

    People saying go back to clapham… what the hell does that mean? That Brixton should remain undeveloped, unimproved, people should be allowed have free accommodation, contribute little to the infrastructure of the community AND moreso the country.

    It makes me angry that people are upset that positive things are happening in the community.

    Gentrification is a very topical subject, and it will alway tug heartstrings. ANd it is part and parcel of the style of financial infrastructure that guides and controls our lives here in Britain.

    But the following is fact. The stats indicate that there will be an influx of another 10 million people into central london in the next 6-8 years… where will these people go to live? If there work is in the cities, then theyr’ll be in the cities. Realistically, in zones 1,2 and 3. Brixton will be a target. But we have known this for YEARS. EVERYONE HAS. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS EVERYWHERE.

    Vandalising your own community, a place i call home and have for many years isn’t an answer. It doesnt solve anything. As much as complaining to the sky that waves in the ocean are too big.

    Gentrification – This obviously is sad. It genuinely is, I am an immigrant too, But we all knew this was coming. Setting fire to bins?? Vandalising? Rioting? What? This is my home and i deserve to feel safer here as much as anyone anywhere does.

    I am PROUD of my home. I feel safer here every year. I like it improving. I like it that there is more stuff to do, more people taking pride in their community, and less people offering me drugs on the high street each year. If that makes me a bad person, then i guess i am.

    • Rod of correction July 17, 2013 at 12:52 pm ·

      How many generations of your family live here? If the council were trying to re-house you in Margate, or somewhere equally as far away, and you couldn’t regularly see your grandparents/parents/siblings/cousins etc… Who may well have been your life support in terms of childminding etc. What about your school friends that you’ve known all your life. Are you supposed to say “Oh well, it’s only gentrification, I guess I don’t really have any right to stay and live in the area/community where I grew up and all my life is….?!?!?!!?
      So long as you feel safe and enjoy the ever improving cupcakes and coffee – well thats alright with you then eh?
      Another selfish perspective.

      • Kay B July 17, 2013 at 3:04 pm ·

        @Rod of correction

        I wrote clearly. concisely and tried to make note that the problems were that of general societal economics and not societal preferential, or class purging motivated. This isnt complicated. And it certainly isnt selfish – quite the opposite.

        Obviously gentrication is a horrible idea and obviously it has effected you personally as you are so driven to write about it.

        Your brief and alarming msg both to me and to others referring to “disgusting capitalist ideals” and “what if i cant live near my cousins house on the tax payers dime” talk is alarming because of its aggressive tone more than its content.

        As regards your comment – “I don’t really have any right to stay and live in the area/community where I grew up and all my life is….?!?!?!!?” – Of course you do.

        Do you pay rent? Do you work? Your talk of the council having to cover people indefinately in one area because they know other people there discourse genuinely frightens me.

        You had the sheer gall to reference my family.. ok – my family have been ethnically cleansed out of their own country and never expected anywhere or anything as wonderful as a system of social welfare and care as what Britain offers. They are hardworking manual labourers. And I had nothing when I came. And I payed rent. I saved and I have a life here.

        The people in the article were not paying rent nor taxes. Should i pay if for them. Will you?

        And it makes me a bad person wanting the place i live to improve… Im talking about general safety for my children and loved ones. You talk of cupcakes and coffee…. ?!!?!?

        I would remind you you know nothing about the people you are insulting would ask you write with more respect…

  8. Juliet July 16, 2013 at 11:18 am ·

    @ Tim Dickens

    “and 22 units for “affordable” housing”

    Hey, quit with the biased reporting, there noting about the term affordable housing that needs to be in italics. Its a legitimate well established housing term housing and has been in the vernacular for many years ….unless of course you’d rather make a political point than report honestly?

    • Tim Dickens July 16, 2013 at 11:47 am ·

      Juliet,

      In March this year Lambeth Council passed an application from Barratts Homes to turn the provision of 48 homes being built just further east down Coldharbour Lane from “social” housing to “affordable” housing. This decision meant that in real terms flats will cost an average of 20 percent more to rent. I had this in mind when I placed the word in quote marks, not any political agenda.

      http://www.brixtonblog.com/lambove-approves-20-per-cent-rise-in-affordable-rents-at-brixton-square-development/10650

      From what Cllr Pete Robbins was saying in BBC London this morning – it sounds like these 22 units will be run as council homes by Lambeth Living – which seems like the best arrangement for them.

      • Juliet July 16, 2013 at 12:05 pm ·

        Thank you,

        with that in mind you should have given the italics more context to support them.

        Nevertheless I venture to suggest that one isolated example does not in itself warrant such wild supposition within the piece and certainly one shouldn’t extrapolate policy from such a singular case unless your crystal ball functions better than mine.

        Saturday’s National Lottery results were 12,15,24,36,45,49, 32 – on that basis will the Brixton Blog be projecting exactly the same numbers next week? #buyingticketnow

  9. Mark July 16, 2013 at 9:37 am ·

    Here is what is reported
    ‘The council said: “We are taking action this week because it is unfair on the thousands of residents in need of housing in Lambeth that a small minority have been unlawfully squatting in six mansion blocks on Rushcroft Road, Brixton, and not paying any rent or council tax.

    “Following the eviction of the unauthorised occupants, three of the six blocks in Rushcroft Road will be sold to bring the remaining three blocks back into use as 22 new homes for social rent.’

    So it would seem that they are in general not paying rent nor taxes – and the council has been trying toi resolve for some time, – if you do not pay for your potatoes then you cannot take them from the shop. If you do not pay for the infrastructure being provided, you cannot benefiit. You cannot create energy and you cannot create money, merely recycle it. Probably these same people having been slamming Starbucks, Google and the like for not paying corporation taxes, probably have been on protests about it, – hypocrites!

  10. Dave July 16, 2013 at 8:04 am ·

    Once upon a time a friend squatted a flat in Kennington that was susequently redeveloped so the council rehoused him in a lovely peabody flat which he eventually bought on right to buy with a nice fat discount. He played the system and won. Was that fair? Even he might agree that possibly that was not and he was just lucky.

    Those just evicted from Rushcroft Road will now be at the mercy of what they get from our system now, some may be rehoused some won’t but was it fair for them to live outside of the system at the expense of the rest of us?

    It made lots of headlines but it was hardly a surprise. Section 144 was implemented a year ago, ample advance warning for those living there. Harsh words but true, really what did the residents expect?

    • Rod of correction July 17, 2013 at 12:59 pm ·

      How was it at the expense of others exactly? These properties were left to fall down by Lambeth Council and have been used to live in, whilst having running repairs done, by people who needed somewhere to live.
      Communities are important. ‘Who’s paying less than me?’, is ultimately coming from a bad minded place. ‘Self self self’

  11. Simon July 15, 2013 at 10:28 pm ·

    Jessica, your comment was ridiculously insensitive. You are not wrong to want to buy a house and restore it but this certainly isn’t the time or place for you to be asking to purchase a just-evicted property. I really thought your first comment was a spoof until I read your second one.
    John, you ask ‘why should anybody be allowed to live in these beautiful building for free’? Lambeth council ABANDONED these beautiful buildings over 30 years ago. Some homeless people moved in. Do you know how much of your council tax money would have been needed to pay the housing benefit bill if these squatters had gone through the ‘accepted’ system of finding a home? 75 squatters housing benefit bill for 30 years paying exorbitant rents to a rich landlord. They have saved the tax payer MILLIONS! I know personally I’d rather people occupied empty buildings.
    And Tommyb. You’ve lived here all your life and Brixton is a nicer place to live now? Wow. I’ve lived here for around 20 years and I’m hating what Brixton is becoming. Supermarkets every quarter of a mile taking over lovely pubs, mobile phone shops every 10 yards, coffee chains selling shit coffee, queueing for an hour to get served at what was your lovely local pub, rents going through the roof. Different strokes for different folks I guess but Brixton sure doesn’t feel like home any more. This was a sad day for the Brixton I loved 🙁

  12. Maggie July 15, 2013 at 10:02 pm ·

    The Lambeth Council building on Brixton Hill is currently named after an amazing woman, Olive Morris- the same Olive Morris who was pictured on the cover of the Squatters Handbook (in 1979) during an eviction attempt while she squatted 121 Railton Road. It is offensive that her name is on a building of a council that behaves like this.

    http://rememberolivemorris.wordpress.com/category/squatting/

  13. Antelope Tickler July 15, 2013 at 8:41 pm ·

    The squatters wanted to pay rent and council tax and be secure. The Council didn’t let them and let 30 years of revenue go down the pan. Now they use the argument that the residents didn’t pay rent to sell of a load of their housing stock to for short-term cash input to private developers.

    The setting alight of a few bins by people nothing to do with the residents is not violence. Violence is the beating of people by bailiffs for daring to try and stop their own displacement from Brixton. There are enough photos and videos from today showing the unnecessary force of the bailiffs.

    Am sure the residents of Rushcroft Rd added more to the local community in terms of life and local economy than the more wealthy sorts that will snap up the newly privatised flats. Brixton is gonna be shit when every store on the high street and in the trendy parts are chains but that’s what comes with the influx of a more wealthy sort. Just look at the rent pressure already put on the older Granville Arcade tenants and the turning of pubs and places in Sainsbury and Tescos.

    • And July 16, 2013 at 2:11 pm ·

      Anarchists offering or wanting to pay rent and council tax sounds extremely unlikely Antelope Tickler.

  14. Faz July 15, 2013 at 8:28 pm ·

    Core issues? The local council is on its knees. I am born and bred south London. I went to school in lambeth. I’m having trouble getting my kids into fucking school and have to wait 45 minutes to see a GP. I pay my taxes and have worked since I was 16. I have travelled the world on my own hard work and now some cunts who have lived rent free and council tax free for years have finally been given the boot decide to set fire to bins (which incidentally are mostly over spilt and stink and have foxes eating out of them) in protest???!!! How the fuck is that community minded. Please do me a favour. I live on that street and rent. If you want to squat do so in an area that isn’t Over populated massively already. Like fucking north Wales or even better Australia.

  15. lilou_b July 15, 2013 at 7:01 pm ·

    it was a given, but since the fabric of Brixton itself is changing as we know, so does the readership of the Brixton blog. judging from what is becoming the majority of comments …

    “great idea setting fire to the bins. now us council-tax payers will need to pay for new ones” (glad to see people are concentrating on core issues)
    “Having said that I am also against people who can afford to pay a rent taking up this space” (yeah like clearly, if you were able to pay a Brixton rent you would totally choose to live with another 75 people)
    “Perhaps having people in the flats that do pay to live there will value their surroundings more highly” (as demonstrated by Chelsea and Mayfair, regularly featured in the media for their vibrant community life)

    …give it another 3 months and the Brixton Bugle/Blog will have to rival in trash creativity with the Daily Mail to keep its readership…

  16. Tommyb July 15, 2013 at 6:57 pm ·

    What’s wrong with Brixton being up and coming? It’s about time! I have lived here all my life and its nice to see all the positive things that are now happening in Brixton.Why should squatters be allowed to live rent free? They should be out working and trying to make their own lives better.Brixton was a very nice area in which to live years ago and it’s becoming that way again and that’s all good.Im sure that the people who purchased their houses and flats many years ago and who have since sold them for ridiculous prices through estate agents such as Foxtons would disagree with you.The people who are moving in and buying these places and renting these flats are paying astronomical prices and are also paying their taxes and contributing to society so I don’t see any issue at all.Brixton is a much nicer place to live now.

  17. Mumtaz July 15, 2013 at 6:30 pm ·

    As someone else implied earlier, funny how this has only become an issue now Brixton is “up and coming” and these flats are worth MONEY now. 10-20 years ago nobody gave a toss about what was a “run down ghetto”, and the squatters would have been left to their own devices, but now it is being marketed as a “trendy and edgy” community and people are being priced out by developers, and scum like Foxtons are selling properties as “lifestyle choices” to those rich enough to afford them. Agreed, half of these are going to be social housing, but I wonder if this was done under duress and they would rather have just sold the lot off to a developer. Even the “affordable social housing” will probably only be available to those with an income over 30,000 a year, like all the other “social housing developments” have been recently. Bye bye Brixton.

  18. Tommyb July 15, 2013 at 6:28 pm ·

    Why should they be allowed to live for free when other people have to work their arses off good riddance they should be happy that they got away with it for soo long

  19. CJ July 15, 2013 at 5:45 pm ·

    I have lived in Brixton for years now and every time I walk through Windrush Sq. I am appalled by the obvious (hard) drug use that goes on on the doorways of the mansion blocks on Rushcroft Rd (not to mention the strong smell of urine emanating from the same). This is most probably NOT the squatting residents but something has to be done as such residents are clearly not doing anything about it.

    I am NOT saying that it is ever right to evict those in need of housing without somewhere appropriate to re-house them, but vandalising the outside of the beautiful buildings and setting fire to bins should not be acceptable, particularly if such vandals are not paying council tax to pay for repair and replacements. I refuse to feel guilty for resenting the fact that my hard-earned wage and duly paid Lambeth council tax is subsidising those who don’t contribute a jot towards living in the area.

    Perhaps having people in the flats that do pay to live there will value their surroundings more highly.

    • lionroots July 15, 2013 at 7:32 pm ·

      I live in Clapham and every weekend we have hard drug use, vomit and urine on our doorsteps, all provided by the local yuppies living the dream. ps they are local residents so what do you do with them?

  20. Jessica Healy July 15, 2013 at 5:11 pm ·

    @darren and @dizzy – I am really sorry for those who’ve lost their homes and cannot afford to rent anywhere else. This article doesn’t give much detail about that, and I will obviously be keeping a close eye on the story and would be totally against the council leaving people homeless. It would be great if this blog could do some more investigation into this as I am sure there are many readers who could shelter people for a short time while they get rehoused.
    Having said that I am also against people who can afford to pay rent taking up this space when the resource could be better used by the council to re-house those in need, or indeed to make money to carry our their other essential work.
    But as this has now happened, I’d really love to see these houses sold to people who have a genuine interest in this community and would cherish the buildings’ wonderful heritage.
    Am I wrong, as a young person to want to buy a house and restore it with hard work and lots of passion? That is a fair dream to have surely?

  21. John July 15, 2013 at 4:52 pm ·

    A room for private rent in flats on Rushcroft Road (sharing with 3 others) is currently around £625pm…

    With an endless procession of well to-do individuals looking to move into the area, a flat in a handsome building, in the centre of Brixton, minutes from a tube station in Zone 2, relatively quiet street, no wonder the events of today took place at this moment in time and not 20 years ago..

  22. jk July 15, 2013 at 4:22 pm ·

    75 squatters, how many flats?

    It is a shame that they go to developers, would be more profitable for Lambeth to sell them but more hassle. They always seem to go to Auction when Lambeth do sell.

  23. faz July 15, 2013 at 4:13 pm ·

    great idea setting fire to the bins. now us council-tax payers will need to pay for new ones. they should consider themselves lucky they had rent and council tax free lodgings for so long the italian anarchist twats.

  24. John Kunle Azikiwe July 15, 2013 at 3:57 pm ·

    The tone of this article is pretty one sided. Why should just anyone be allowed to live in these beautiful old buildings completely free – correct me if I am wrong, but did the squatters have a selection policy prioritising the most needy to be allowed into their community? If so I’d be interested to hear about it. My hunch is not. If the council takes control of them and makes them social housing then surely the most deserving will be allowed to live in them. If the council has to sell some of them to cover the costs of restoring the others for council use, then that money will also go into the community. And there are plenty of people like Jessica and her partner who would restore them in a more individual way. Jessica is right to ask what is happening next to these buildings. That is a discussion that needs to be had.

  25. Yuppies Out! July 15, 2013 at 3:21 pm ·

    I read Foxtons has their greedy hands in a number of the private flats. Yours for only 600,000 pounds.

  26. dizzy July 15, 2013 at 3:19 pm ·

    *applauds @Darren*

    Yes @Jessica, I would lovingly restore one too, but I have a rented roof over my head and right now, these people don’t.

  27. Darren July 15, 2013 at 3:16 pm ·

    Oh god please tell me you are joking Jessica? You post a question about how you might purchase one of the flats that people are being evicted from on an article about the very subject. How completely tasteless and insensitive of you.

  28. Jessica Healy July 15, 2013 at 2:14 pm ·

    Does anyone know who will be handling the sale of the flats? They’d be a great project to restore. It would be cool if they offered them for sale to individuals like me and not development companies. My boyfriend and I love the area and would lovingly restore one if we had the chance to purchase it.

    • You're Effin kidding me July 15, 2013 at 6:27 pm ·

      Really!?!?!? You are certainly part of the problem. Please stick to Clapham, we don’t want you.

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