Thursday, 28 February 2013

DIY Space for London: Creating a DIY space with radical values for live music and other countercultural activities in London.

Creating a DIY space with radical values for live music and other countercultural activities in London.

DIY Space for London: Creating a DIY space with radical values for live music and other countercultural activities in London.

 Things have been very busy in the last few weeks! DIY Space For London was started with the aim of securing permanent/long-term autonomous space for gigs, events and DIY activity. We’ve teamed up with some other social centre collectives and organising groups at the newly-reclaimed Eileen House, an empty ’60s office block in Elephant and Castle, to create a temporary social centre and community space called Self-Organised London. Click here to find out more about this. If all goes to plan we’re hoping to provide the huge basement space with gigs, shows events and other happenings. We hope you’re as excited as we are about making great use of this incredible reclaimed space for DIY activity. Have a look at what’s on so far here.

Selling the White House? Obama-Linked Group Promises Top Donors Access to President

Selling the White House? Obama-Linked Group Promises Top Donors Access to President
from the White House to Downing st. Big money buys our politicians.
there was a story before the War in Libya of  the owner of a large oil company being given Dinner with David Cameron at no.10 in return for £250,000. The same company went on to get large oil contracts after the war in Libya.
The story only appeared briefly in the press.Where is the democracy when large donars can buy political parties of whatever shade.There should be a limit on donations to political parties.All donations should be declared,no more cash for access.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Eileen House opened by Self-Organised London as new social space Self-Organised London

Eileen House opened by Self-Organised London as new social space
Self-Organised London | 23.02.2013 10:01 | Free Spaces | London

Self-Organised London Social Space has now been opened in a squatted office building near Elephant and Castle.

Eileen House on 80-94 Newington Causeway, a 1960s office building, has now been empty for years. Its redevelopment has been subject to a protracted and contested debate between Southwark Council, Oakmayne developers, local residents, the famous nightclub “Ministry of Sound” (located opposite Eileen House) and – the mayor of London (see PDF). After numerous months of haggling and bureaucratic warfare, it’s time to reclaim Eileen house for the public and the interests of the Elephant’s residents!

On Tuesday night, 19th February, a number of social centre collectives squatted Eileen House as a direct action against gentrification. As a selforganised London Social Space, we want to propose & exchange ideas for radical alternatives, serving the needs of the many vibrant and organic communities around E&C!

For this reason we will put on a number of events, talks, discussions, film screenings, music nights and much more for the first week (see below). All residents and Londoners are more than welcome to pop in for a cuppa, discuss matters, attend our events or just have a good chat! During this first week we are really happy for people to come mby, have a look around the building and maybe give us a hand with setting up the space, while on the long run, the opening times will be from Wednesdays till Sundays, 2-10 pm.

Links: Self-Organised London Social Space | Crews:
No Shoes No Roots | DIY space for London

From the newswire:
Fight gentrification! Reclaim regeneration! For self-organised spaces... | Siege of The Elephant | first protest on london shard viewing platform | News from the Library Street Social Centre | Southwark Council leaks it's own Confidential Regeneration Agreement

Donations (kitchen equipment, furniture, decoration material, food, etc) are more than welcome.


SOL – Self-Organised London Social Space
Follow us on twitter (Self-organised LDN), find us on Facebook (Self-organised London) or visit our online portal:

Run by:

Library Street Collective

No Shoes No Roots

DIY space for London

Thursday, 21 February 2013

'Occupy' the commons - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

'Occupy' the commons - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
Excellent article on the occupied social spaces in Italy.
The activists and citizens push for direct democracy and the commons.

Londons new self organised social centre needs support

Big call out to help set up newly squatted Eileen House 80-94 newington causeway. After a long 24hrs hangin with security + filth we're finaly getting to working on our new building. Would go WILD for sum fresh faces up 4 cleaning, decorating, cooking before 1st events tonight! Meet @ Colorama 2 or go straight there. Solidarity. Rage. Network it

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Analysis of Mr Weatherley MP’s Anti-squatting Vendetta | Occupy News Network

Analysis of Mr Weatherley MP’s Anti-squatting Vendetta | Occupy News Network

Analysis of Mr Weatherley MP’s Anti-squatting Vendetta

The MP Mike Weatherley’s attack on squatting represents a Conservative Party “prejudice and persecution cycle”, intended to divide and rule for corporate and elites’ gain.
Parliamentary records show that Mr Weatherley has been supported by political donations from property tycoons, investors and multi-millionaires. This was detailed in research released on Monday, which explains too the landlord lobbyists standing shoulder to shoulder with Weatherley, and the property tycoons they represent.

Mr Weatherley is driving the campaign to criminalise squatting – despite the data that shows there are 710,000 empty houses in England, which connects directly with rising homelessness statistics. Reported in the Guardian these show the “largest increase for some time”. Mr Weatherley’s motivation seems the massive financial donations he has received from property tycoons, despite the housing crisis they are largely responsible for causing.

More broadly, Mr Weatherley’s attacks on squatters represent a trend within the British government. They firstly focus unfair attention on one group. Following this, they create a myth and stir up social distain and hate. This enables them to then persecute the group, which distracts attention from their corporate sponsors’ malpractices – frequently enabling the corporations to increase their stranglehold on the rest of society. Below is a mini article, which shows how similar tactics are used to persecute disabled people – which have killed tens of thousands due to the new assessment regime. It also draws parallels with Canada’s Harper government’s new persecution of First Nation peoples.

After raising the funds and getting the donations from property tycoons, Mike Weatherley first targeted squatters. With sentiments like the ones wrote in a letter to the Guardian in 2009, “The unlawful occupiers will have been damaging your home, using your electricity, drinking your wine and sleeping in your beds.” Anecdotes from his supposed personal experience seem unfounded, possibly one-offs. From real experiences in activism in real squats, I have never heard of a squatter breaking into someone’s home – what  Weatherley is describing sounds more like burglary than squatting. The letter quoted above was in reaction to 160 lawyers who suggested Weatherley’s plans were “legally inaccurate”.

Defending the criminalisation of commercially designated premises to Al Jazeera in November 2012, Mike Weatherley said, “It’s a good law, and those who says it’s not are just anarchists.” Whilst on the Real News to advocate for the property lobbyists he said, “What I don’t want to see is vulnerable people, and these are often very vulnerable people, drug addicts, and alcohol and so on.” He continued, “Now some squatters have got nothing to do with homeless they are basically anarchist they’re well educated and web savvy… These buildings aren’t being wasted, they belong to someone… Anything they say about making the premises better or improving it is false… I’ve seen open fires in these. I’ve seen some of these buildings destroyed, and there is a lot of drug taking associated with these.”

These accusations are based on his opinions, misrepresentations combined with falsehoods. The positive effect of squatting – leaving premises in better states than they find it – is clearly shown by the saved Friern Barnet Library and Grow Heathrow. The latter is reported in the Guardian, which also tells how the government has not done any research on this since 1986. The paper also infers that squatting mainly occurs in long term abandoned buildings.

The crux of the problem with Weatherley’s argument is its complete lack of any sense of reality. Instead he is basing his argument on judgements and a few stories, or more accurately he is being paid cash for opinions – which is even worse than cash for questions.

Within Weatherley’s own rationale, Conservative MP Louise Mensch, who admitted to taking Class A’s, could be put forward to suggest that the Parlimentary Conservative Party is a chemical party. Of course this is not the case – their drug of choice is far more dangerous: neoliberal dominance re-branded as austerity.

Although Mr Weatherley is leading the charge, his efforts enjoy support from the right wing press – not a coincidence that their owners also own a lot of properties. Take Jonathan Harmsworth, 4th Viscount Rothermere owner of the Daily Mail and General Trust. Beyond owning the Daily Mail and Mail Online with other papers that demonise squatters, the Viscount adds property tycoon alongside his media mogul status. He is apparently worth £ 760million on last year’s Sunday Times Rich list.

It would also be unlikely that a politician could do anything that would conflict with the interests of their core supporters. Unsurprisingly, the Conservative Party is not averse to looking after the interests of millionaire property tycoons. Their donations are a further incentive for the Party to work in their interest including keeping the hundreds of thousands of properties empty to raise prices. In 2011, the Telegraph calculated that total donations from property developers to the party amounted to £3.3 million since 2008.

Conservative governments, mainstream media and corporations in Britain and Canada follow similar patterns: resulting in persecution in their pursuit of profits.

The corporate media enables these governments to inflame prejudice, and then the authorities persecute this group to the advantage of big business. This tactic is applied in a multifaceted approach, relying on inflaming hatred to cause division amongst their targets: divide and rule through deflecting public anger away from the persecution and corporate malpractices.

In Britain, the new assessment criterion for disabled people killed over 10,600 people enforced by the corporation Atos, according to the Department of Work and Pensions in 2011. This is representative of separate attacks on groups and minorities that then suffer from cuts and privatisation. Overall, these allow corporations and the banking industry to gain in different ways; the false myths and prejudice mean less people distract consideration for why we need the cuts. For instance, due to corporate tax avoidance or the bankers’ bailout, which are also supported financially by the same cuts.

In Canada, the new legislation – Bill C45 has been described as the final stage of extermination of indigenous people. It dissolves ecological regulations, opening their lands to further tar sand exploitation and nuclear dumping. Phenomenally destructive and described in detail on a recent ONN article, including evidence of the vast extent of tar sands before Bill C45. Likewise, the “winners” of this are corporations, who will make massive financial profits from this destruction.

There are sharp parallels in how they do this – depicted on the picture above.

British Conservative Iain Duncan Smith is pivotal in focusing unfair criticism on disabled people and other groups. In spring 2012, he described how 500,000 people were claiming fraudulently, without evidence to support these figures. He was reported widely, including by the Telegraph. As part of other stories, creating “scrounger myths”, this case is linked directly to a rise in hate-crime against people with disabilities, which grew alongside the Atos involvement.

Similar quotes that engender hate or rage can be found against: immigrants, the poor, Palestinian people, soldiers fighting against European forces in Africa, students, public sector workers, the unemployed,… One further example, again from Iain Duncan Smith, claims benefits need controls as they often feed alcohol and drug problems – again these claims were unsubstantiated.

First nation prejudice is prevalent within Canadian society: reflected in the commonly used derogative terms such as aboriginal and Indians. Nevertheless, prior to Bill C45, there seems a concerted effort not only to inflame these racist myths, but also attack advocates who resist and fight racism.

An example of this surrounded opposition Democratic Party leader Don Davies. For photographing an anti-racism rally, Conservative Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, described him as a “cheerleader for anarchists and anti-capitalist mobs”: defending “violent foreign criminals, war criminals and bogus asylum claimants.” Just before the rushing through of Bill C45, the majority owned right wing media also published a survey suggesting the Government was giving too much money to first nation peoples. The survey however, asks leading questions to generate these answers as analysis from Environics explains.

This mini article originally published @ Steve Rushton’s writing and research page

Hastings latest from the frontline new camp set up

Camp Ivy pops up!New independent off-route camp btwn Glovers & Actons Fms just off footpath.Sorted,self-sufficient campers&visitors welcome!Camp mob 07706065623

Friday, 15 February 2013

Earth Circus Productions presents Evolution Cabaret , "we saved the library celebration " friday feb 15th 7-11pm at Friern Barnet Community Library Friern Barnet rd n11 3ds line up

Earth Circus Productions presents Evolution Cabaret , "we saved the library celebration " friday feb 15th 7-11pm at Friern Barnet Community Library Friern Barnet rd n11 3ds featuring Cat Brogan, Pete the Temp,Dan Accordian,Antarma ,Pok the Bard,Dennis the poet,Al the owl,Anna Chen and Charles Shar Murray,the Riddler and Butterfly Wheel show band,the late night shop girls.sounds by George Solar Quest.DJ Ben Ben playing electro swing.benefit raising funds for the library and paid librarians.suggested donation £5.
cafe and cake please network it Extra as we have been busy and need all library supporters to come.

Earth Circus Productions presents Evolution Cabaret , "we saved the library celebration " friday feb 15th 7-11pm at Friern Barnet Community Library Friern Barnet rd n11 3ds line up

Earth Circus Productions presents Evolution Cabaret , "we saved the library celebration " friday feb 15th 7-11pm at Friern Barnet Community Library Friern Barnet rd n11 3ds featuring Cat Brogan, Pete the Temp,Dan Accordian,Antarma ,Pok the Bard,Dennis the poet,Al the owl,Anna Chen and Charles Shar Murray,the Riddler and Butterfly Wheel show band,the late night shop girls.sounds by George Solar Quest.DJ Ben Ben playing electro swing.benefit raising funds for the library and paid librarians.suggested donation £5.
cafe and cake please network it Extra as we have been busy and need all library supporters to come.

Reclaim Love This Saturday Piccadilly Circus by Eros Statue Be there

Reclaim Love 
This Saturday Piccadilly Circus by Eros Statue Be there

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Polite Revolution a great short film on the Library Occupation and Uprising in Barnet

A Polite Revolution from Oonagh Cousins on Vimeo.

Property tycoons buy politicians to criminalise squatting

Conservative MP Mike Weatherley is driving the campaign to criminalise squatting. Despite data that there are 710,000 empty houses in England. His actions likely motivated by the massive personal financial donations, which he has received from millionaires who trade in properties.

Parliamentary records show that Mr Weatherley has been supported by donations from property tycoons, investors and multi-millionaires: Ray Bloom, Stewart Newton and Sir Tim Sainsbury.

Mr Weatherley was also given money before becoming elected. Detailed by the research resource search the money – he received over £150,000. This money came from property investors Hambrook Estate Limited, as well as the property investors the Lewis Trust Group Ltd: £2,000, elite focused United and Cecil Club and Winston Churchill Dining Clubs and Millionaire property trader Mike Holland and developer John D Regan.
In the shadowy world of political donations, it is not clear if this is the full extent of the money he has received. As a company director, he gets paid £32,000 for apparently doing 6 days of work per year.

Nevertheless, whether all the lobbying is accounted for or not – the thousands of pounds that are public information reveal a great deal about British politics in general: money talks and democracy does not work.
The photo shows the MP in action, pushing forward the agenda against squatting. In the image he is flanked by two landlord lobbyists. The two organisations they represents describe well the natures of the anti-squatting lobby.

On the viewers left, is Alan Ward the Residential Landlord Association chairman. Their website boasts how they represent “12,500+ landlords with a combined portfolio of more than 150,000 properties.” A mortgage company suggests the average annual UK rent is £11,664. Taking into account how there are so many empty properties, because it keeps the rents high, crude maths can explain the interests the association is lobbying for. The figures suggest that the average member of the Residential Landlords Association, owns 12 houses, keeps 2 derelict and makes over £100,000 per year for renting the other 10 properties.

Photographed on the right is Paul Shamplina, co-founder of Landlord Action. Starting out as a debt collector and bailiff, his organisation’s website also boasts how he has “has helped to evict over 16,000 bad tenants.” A figure that will rise quickly as austerity cuts ravage Britain harder and jobs are cut further.

The political funding of Mr Weatherley, by property tycoons, seems a microcosm of British society. It gives a dark sinister twist to the government’s webpage “MPs: They work for you.”
A more accurate tagline could be “MPs: They are supposed to work for you” or even: “MPs: They work for bribery.”

Squattastic Resistance Special this Sunday

Squattastic Resistance Special this Sunday! Practical and Legal
Resistance Workshops, films and exhibition with a People's kitchen
afterwards. It's the usual 2-6 with extra social afterwards if you want
to stay, Central London location to be confirmed.

If anyone wants to run a workshop or help out with the people's kitchen
please get in touch.

Bring ideas, bring your squat mates and your bike lock (if you've got
one). It's gonna be a fun-packed Sunday afternoon!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Hastings return of the trees action in Lewes tues 12 feb

Return of the trees! action in Lewes tmrw (Tue 12 Feb). 9 - 10am, outside County Hall. Free bus from Hastings, St L and Bexhill.

Squattastic resistance special sun 17th feb 2-6 pm

Squattastic: resistance special! Sunday 17th feb, workshops + exhibition 2-6pm, peoples kitchen from 7pm, central london location tba. Bring your squat mates (oh and your bike lock if you've got one...) See you on sun! E.R

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Art of Psy party tonight network it

The art of psy on saturday 9th of February 3 stages (psytrance,DnB,lounge music) call infolines after 8pm to find us 07908871504/07947126068
Pass it on!!!

Reclaim Love 10th annual pavement party sat feb 16th network it

ReclaimLove 10th Annual Pavement Party
Sat Feb 16th
Meet 2pm@Eros statue,PicadilyCircus
Dont miss the most uplifting heart-warming street party,linked up with ReclaimLove parties worldwide for this Love celebration & worldpeace meditation
One Love in action!
C Ü there
Network this Loveliness :-)

2nd Battle of Hastings continues.public meeting sun feb 10th

Bring yourr energy & ideas to Save Combe Haven public mtg! Sun Feb 10,7-9,Unitarian Church Hastings.Details on website

Manchester library occupied by 50 local residents network it

Levenshulme library, Manchester OCCUPIED! around 50 local residents refused to leave the library at closing time. Police currently trying to persuade them to leave, unsuccessfully. Solidarity network it

Boyd Tonkin: Squatting public property helped to save my first library. Don't make it a crime - Features - Books - The Independent

Boyd Tonkin: Squatting public property helped to save my first library. Don't make it a crime - Features - Books - The Independent

Friday, 8 February 2013



(nearest Tube Arnos Grove or New Southgate BR. or 43 bus to outside.)
On FRIDAY 15th February 2013

7pm Doors Open Performance 8-10.30 pm

Cat Brogan,
Pete the Temp,
Dan Accordian,
Antarma ,
Pok the Bard,
Al the owl,
the Riddler and the show band 'Butterfly Wheel '
Sounds by George Sloar Quest
and DJ Ben Ben playing Electro Swing
Compared by Phoenix the co-ordinator

Benefit raising funds for the library and paid librarians.

Suggested Donation up to £5
cafe and cake
please network it Extra as we have been busy and need all library
supporters to come.

Production and networking support from Archangel productions.
Decor and Lights by Mad Brother Visions

Please come and help us celebrate this victory for community direct
action,and help to build the campign to re-open all the Libraries with
proper funded staff.
Stand Firm for this Local Library and all 250 Libraries being closed.
Stop the Cuts ….Save our Public Services by Taxing the Bankers and
Occupy London and Occupy Everywhere.
Keep networking,we are winning and we are Everywhere

To get more involve email

Please network

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Sussex university occupation @ Bramber house network it

Bramber house @ Sussex university occupied, join us & spread the word x
Looks like the 2013 year of occupations is warming up network it

BBC TV news End of Friern Barnet Library occupation 5 Feb 2013 Begin Save ALL Libraries campaign.

BBC report on Library. Intresting always how things are cut and edited, spun round, into Big Society,bullshit.
We've been asking for buildings and squatting  them to run buildings voluntary for 20 years since 1992 Rio Earth Summit.As one local said theirs nothing wrong with voluntary work, but we do reiterate our constant call in the campaign for a proper library service and paid librarians.Volunteer libraries cannot replace the proper library service.We were pushing in negotiation with the council for enough funds for  a paid librarian.
We were told take the deal or we evict you on wednesday.Most of the community meeting wanted to save the local library.It could have been just another eviction in the 20 year quest for community space we have been on.

There is no new Big society blah, squatters have been doing it DIY culture autonomous spaces for decades.
Some said this was the end of one chapter and another was about to begin for the Library that would not close.

I thought of a name for the next chapter Re OPEN all the libraries campaign (with paid librarians)begins.
Another idea was can someone add up how much it would cost to save all the libraries (UK UNCUT maybe)
then we could go ask a corporate tax evader if they wanted to pay up to save the Libraries for the kids.Innit.
This is just the beggining........what happened to the 2 million books..........from the 250 libraries........pulped or burned like the Walthamforest library books.......Book burners beware your time is up.......

Broken Barnet: The Library that Lived: Victory for the people of Friern Barnet

Mrs Angry one of the famous 5 barnet bloggers ,who have helped to burst Barnets balloon,over their Library Asset Stripping and flogging off ,most of  their council departments (One Barnet proggramming) to their Corporate mates to make a fat profit and a slashed service.
Liked the quotes she focuses on key points.

" In his address to the gathering, Phoenix spoke passionately about the wider issue of the threat to libraries, and the need to preserve our public library service. He has always urged everyone to continue to fight for the retention of professional library support from Barnet, and this is a crucial point for many of us who celebrate the saving of the library building, but furiously condemn the actions of Barnet Council in their assault on our library service, and the removal of professional posts from the library structure. "

"Phoenix also reminded everyone of the fact that squatting is a survival mechanism for the poor and dispossessed members of our society: criminalising such action has had a brutal impact on those who otherwise have no access to housing. (she puts this so well,sums it up how it is)

In his own speech, Rabbi Jeffrey Newman, one of the new trustees of the library, also commented on the neat irony that this successful occupation by community squatters should have taken place in the borough which is part of the constituency of MP Mike Freer, the instigator of the new anti squatting legislation. 

He looked forward to the time when these new laws were overturned. He mentioned this, he said, not to be party political, but to broadcast on behalf of humanity. Earlier, in fact, he had commented that a result of the experience of the library campaign was a recognition of our humanity, that we can learn from one another."

Broken Barnet: The Library that Lived: Victory for the people of Friern Barnet

Friern Barnet Library - Photo document of 5 Months of Occupation a set on Flickr

Some photos of the 5 month Occupation....People Power in action.
More to be linked up soon.
Also check links to photos on my FB phoenixrainbownew
 Friern Barnet Library - a set on Flickr

Barnet Massive Librarian Supporters Club Say Re open ALL Libraries

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Phoenixs quick reply to some of the comments on Library campaign (Guardian Article)

We as the occupiers and activists are strongly opposed to the lie of austerity the cuts an definetely the Big society, a cover to cut all our hard won public services.None of which would be necessary at all if the Banks and corporate tax evaders paid up.Lets push that message.
We regularly through the campaign called for a proper library service with paid librarians.
Unfortunately as many are aware the mainstream media spins it how they want.
We have raised a massive amount of awareness about the Libraries and also the unfair and undemocratic law to criminalise the homeless/squatters.
There are links to some of the many media articles on my blog
After a bit of rest from a 5 month intense campaign i hope to write some more accurate articles for the media on our direct action that saved a library from the asset stripping by the local council.
The deal was not perfect we pushed hard for enough funds for a paid librarian,however we were told by the council take the deal or we evict you on wednesday.
A few activists wanted to resist and raise issues further,but we have been through many evictions over 20 years of setting up community centres in some of the 1.4 million empty buildings in the UK.
The vast majority of the library group wanted to accept the lesser deal and still have their local library and community centre.
We were there to support this local campaign while raising awareness of the national disgrace of our governments library policy

.As well as the draconian new squatting law that is causing untold suffering and death (freezing on the streets) for the dispossesed people of these isles.
Hopefully a longer reply will be on my blog soon.
Many thanks to all the locals,occupiers squatters,volunteers and campaign groups who have helped to save this one library from the bulldozer and inspire a national debate on Libraries,the cuts to public services and on squatting/the housing crisis.
80% of the cuts are yet to come,this is going to be a year of many farm hospital was occupied last saturday and Birmingham Town hall on Monday.
Keep networking we are winning and we are everywhere.
Love Phoenix and the Library Occupiers.

Library campaigners save Friern Barnet branch for community | Books |

Library campaigners save Friern Barnet branch for community | Books |

Library will not be sold but council deal is 'not perfect' (From Times Series)

Library will not be sold but council deal is 'not perfect' (From Times Series)

No eviction for squatters as library deal 'very close' (From Times Series)

No eviction for squatters as library deal 'very close' (From Times Series)

Article feb 1st

ITV TV news on Library liberated

Fairly good ITV news piece went out mid day and agin at 6pm.
There are 2 more videos on the side of the following link.
The day definetely stoked the libraries and anti cuts debate,in many media{%2210151296843032989%22%3A335244649928681}&action_ref_map=[]&action_type_map={%2210151296843032989%22%3A%22og.recommends%22}&fb_action_ids=10151296843032989&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=timeline_og

Friern Barnet Community Library Celebrates Victory over Council Cuts |

Friern Barnet Community Library Celebrates Victory over Council Cuts |

Very good pictures and article

Friern Barnet Library supporters celebrated victory in overturning Barnet Council's closure decision in a ceremony in which the Occupy squatters who had prevented its sale, handed over the library keys to the local community who will now run it.
The victory by local residents, squatters and activists from the Occupy Movement against Barnet Council is not just a local matter, but one of national (and possibly even international) importance. A great example of democracy in action it shows how a combination of campaigning, lobbying, direct action and making use of the law can win against bureaucracy and greed.
Today residents and squatters came together to celebrate their victory after Barnet had agreed to lease the building to a community company set up to run it as a library, Friern Barnet Community Library (FBCL).
The library had for some years been deliberately neglected by Barnet Council, run down to give them the excuse to close it. It's hard not to suspect that this might be connected the with possibility of fat profits for whoever would be sold the site to develop it with luxury flats; although the actual library site is not huge, at each side there is an area of grass. Given its position, it is a site that property developers would drool over.
Locals obviously valued and loved their library and set up the Save Friern Barnet Library Group when they heard about the proposed closure. They were an active group which publicised the issue, started petitions, lobbied councillors, organised events and got the media involved - but the council was obdurate and refused to listen to them, closing the library in April 2012.
Things changed in September. A new law came into force penalising the homeless and squatters by making squatting in residential buildings illegal. One of the main proposers of this legislation which penalises the homeless and largely protects those holding empty properties as investments (those living in properties were already protected by law) had been an MP for the area which includes the library. On September 3, community activist squatters, including those who had been part of Occupy London, reopened it on 3 September, as a campaign to save the library (and a part of the National Libraries Campaign to save other libraries around the country faced with closure) and also as a protest against the new squatting laws.
Since then the library has been opened by residents and squatters for community use - borrowing of books, various classes and other activities - six days a week. And it was only the direct action in taking over the building that eventually enabled the protesters to force Barnet Council to negotiate and reach an agreement. Without them development would have gone ahead. Squatting gave the protesters time to fight, and to use the law against the council.
As the library is not a residential building it was not covered by the law against squatting, and the council had to go to court to try and evict the squatters. At the possession hearings the squatters argued that their occupation of the premises was a protest, and that the had the right to protest under Articles 10 and 11 of the Human Rights Act. This gave the library supporters the chance to talk about the real issues involved. Rather than grant a possession order, the judge on December 18 decided that although the council's right to possession was more important, Barnet Council must try to negotiate some form of licence to keep the library open to preserve proportionality between the rights of protesters and of the council.
Although initially there had been some residents who were not too happy with having squatters in their Library, there reservations were soon broken down when they saw what they were actually achieving.
There was a real party atmosphere in the library today, and residents and the activists obviously were celebrating together. We were called to order by one of the new library trustees, local Rabbi Jeffrey Newman and there were a few short speeches and at noon in a short ceremony the squatters handed over the keys to the building to residents who are trustee of the newly formed The Friern Barnet Community Library (Ltd).
After this, residents and activists joined hands to dance in a line around the two green spaces on either side of the library, which they hope to register like the library as community assets. A ribbon across the doorway of the library was then cut by local Councillor Pauline Coakleywebb, and we went back inside for more speeches and celebrations.
The speeches dealt with some of the issues raised by the library closures and the fight against them - the vital importance of libraries, particularly for the poor, unemployed and disadvantaged for whom they are a great educational resource. While many less wealthy countries are still struggling to set up libraries, what sense does it make to shut them down here? One woman read a poem about the need for libraries, particularly for children; Phoenix talked about the need to make empty properties available for the homeless as well as the campaign to save libraries, the barrister who had represented the protesters spoke, and the many candles on the impressive 'bookworm' cake were lit before the legal adviser to the campaign cut it and then blew them all out.
There was time for a few soft drinks and other snacks as well as the cake, and to speak to many of the people before, just as I was leaving, there was a second handing over of the keys staged for the benefit of a photographer from the national press.
This was a fine celebration of a great event, both for the local community but also for others in the country who are fighting against closures and cuts - and in Barnet itself the fight will continue against the 'One Barnet' proposals to outsource much of the council's activities to let private companies profit from the council tax paid by the borough's residents.

Axed library taken over by squatters is saved for next two years - London - News - London Evening Standard

Axed library taken over by squatters is saved for next two years - London - News - London Evening Standard

Usual not very good article from the Evil Standard,innacurate old photo etc but at leaset after 1 year of demonising anti squatter propoganga and downright lies,it presents some kind of semi positive story about squatters.

The Friern Barnet library victory shows the way to campaign against cuts | Diane Taylor | Comment is free |

The Friern Barnet library victory shows the way to campaign against cuts | Diane Taylor | Comment is free |

Very good article on the library occupation.(Apart from the 4 month old picture and the comparison to Big Society,which we are not) Please add comments at end of CIF article online.

Friern Barnet library
Local residents, Occupy activists and squatters have worked together to force the council to re-open Friern Barnet library. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian
When Bob Marley and Peter Tosh wrote the classic protest song Get Up, Stand Up they could not have envisaged that it would be adopted by a group of mainly white, middle-aged, middle-class north Londoners who have formed a remarkable alliance with a group of squatters and members of the Occupy movement to oppose a library closure.
On Tuesday, all of the above joined hands in a human chain around Friern Barnet Library in north London. It was closed in April 2012 due to council cuts, and occupied by squatters five months ago, who reopened it with the help of local volunteers almost immediately.
Needless to say the council was not pleased. It has now reopened as a community library with financial input from the council who shut it down. Together, the disparate group of library fans sang an adaptation of their song that Marley and Tosh would probably have approved of – Get Up, Stand Up, Save Our Libraries.
The council threatened to close the library in 2009. Residents and Labour councillors staged various protests, including leafleting, a five-hour sit-in and the temporary establishment of a pop-up library. When the library closed the council brushed off the pleas to reopen it on that site.
When the squatters climbed through an open window in September and began working with local residents to restore a library service in the building the council was stymied.
Officials had to lodge court proceedings to evict the squatters, and as the weeks ticked by before the case was heard the disparate groups forged genuine and trusting relationships and the initially empty library shelves swelled until they had more than 10,000 donated books on offer to lend.
The library became a community hub with events for children, yoga classes and book signings with the likes of Will Self. Barnet county court granted an eviction order in December. But local residents speedily formed a legally constituted group of licensees who offered to take over the running of the library when the squatters moved out on Tuesday. They are now negotiating a long-term lease with the council and plans to sell the site off to a developer have been shelved – for now at least.
When David Cameron put forward his "big society" idea he probably wasn't advocating unusual alliances of people working together collaboratively to overturn closures of public services implemented by radical Tory councils such as Barnet. But, arguably, this is the big society in action.
The Occupy movement has raised a great deal of awareness of global inequality but has not focused on or achieved small, concrete wins such as this one. The Barnet residents' protests fell on deaf ears until the squatters supported by Occupy moved in. Squatters have had an opportunity to rebrand themselves as socially responsible, community minded individuals who are working to restore closed-down public services. The local residents are clear that without the input of the squatters and Occupy, the library would not have reopened.
The squatters know that without the huge support from residents they would have been unceremoniously evicted from the library premises much sooner and Barnet council would have gone ahead with its plans to sell the site to a commercial developer. But together the different groups formed a potent alliance. Assisted by a strong legal team they were able to argue in court that they were providing a greatly valued public service. Their arguments were reflected in the judge's ruling. While granting Barnet council an eviction order, district judge HHJ Pearl recognised the right to protest and said of the occupied library: "There is no suggestion that this is anything other than a happy, pleasant, well-run place."
The relationship between the various groups involved in the library protest and occupation has been characterised by gentleness, mutual respect for the range of views put forward and a very sincere spirit of collaboration. The residents have become more tuned in to the issues raised by the squatters and Occupy, and the latter have worked sensitively with the locals to help them achieve their objectives of restoring a much-loved public service.
As those gathered to celebrate the establishment of Friern Barnet community library on Tuesday lit candles on a very long cake modelled on Eric Carle's classic children's book, the Very Hungry Caterpillar, the unity of purpose resonated around the room. Could this kind of unusual alliance be the future of campaigning against cuts in services and other matters of public concern? This unprecedented reopening of a closed down library suggests that it could.

Friern Barnet Library campaigners win battle to keep UK's first people's library open - Mirror Online

Friern Barnet Library campaigners win battle to keep UK's first people's library open - Mirror Online

Monday, 4 February 2013

Friern Barnet Library saved by Squatters,Occupy activists and Local Library Campaign groups.2 year lease to be given.

Handover of keys  from the squatters to the licencees and red ribbon reopening
12 Noon Midday Tuesday 5 February 2013
Photo documentary of the occupation
CONTACTS: Phoenix 07769 791387

Friern Barnet Library Saved – handover ceremony on Tuesday 12 Noon

On Tuesday 5th February, at midday, exactly five months since the occupation began, the community will take possession of the Friern Barnet Library. The local community – represented by the trustees of the library - are on the verge of agreeing a two-year lease with Barnet Council (LBB) to run the library with some funding from the council.

At the ceremony, squatters and supporters of the Occupy movemnet, who have been keeping the building open and enabling the local community to run a book lending service and community centre in the building, will hand it over to the trustees of the newly formed Friern Barnet Community Library (FBCL). They have now received a licence from LBB to be in the library for two weeks with the promise of renewal of the licence if necessary to negotiate a lease and other matters (eg, who pays the utilities insurance and ongoing future repairs). LBB has shown a willingness to amend the licence to their satisfaction.

“This is a triumph for the local community,” said, one of the trustees of the new community library. “Our library was closed in April. And we were told the building would be ‘marketed’. Now we have our library back, with council financial support. We achieved this through constant campaigning, lobbying, and building a broad alliance including squatters, activists, supporters of the Occupy movement, local residents and library campaign groups.

Housing and Squatting activist  Phoenix, stated: “This campaign definitely shows the success of direct action and  squatting. This is a seed of change. The whole country will soon be facing 80% of the rest of the cuts. They can take some inspiration from this direct action. We have collectively helped to save this library from the bulldozer and being sold off for development.We would like to see more arrangements between owners of the 1.4 million empty buildings in the UK and squatter/homeless and community groups ,rather than the criminalisation being carried out by this government under the new law.
A law we feel strongly is unjust,undemocratic and arbitry."

“We want to make it clear that, the activists support  the National Libraries Campaign and that putting in place a paid librarian is a priority. I believe consensus has been reached with the community on this point. As it stands, the funding offered by the council does not cover a full time librarian, but as the two year lease is negotiated and plans go forward, this will be kept at the front of the conversation. The activists would like to say that we are strongly opposed to austerity and all the cuts, especially to the library service."

“We are also heavily opposed to criminalising the homeless/squatters. The extreme right of the conservative party is seeking to make squatting non-residential building also illegal. This, if it was successful, would affect all our rights to protest by occupying/squatting space, and would make successful community squat occupations such as the library campaign ILLEGAL, thus further removing our rights to shelter and protest.”

The Friern Barnet Community Library (Ltd) has been legally incorporated in the last
fortnight in response to the opportunity to negotiate a  lease with the council.

The library was closed by the Council in April 2012. Community activist squatters reopened it on 3 September, as a campaign to save the library and also as a protest against the new criminalisation of the homeless and squatters by the LASPO Act 2012 (enacted on 1 September). NB squatting in non residential buildings is still legal.

For more on the threat to squatters rights by criminalising Commercial squatting.:

The Squatters Action For Secure Homes have just launched a campaign
and rapidly growing petition to repeal the LASPO Act 2012. please sign and support.

It was the Direct Action by  the squatting community and supporters of Occupy  on Sept 5th 2012 that re-ignited the campaign to keep the library open. Despite a two year campaign LBB had refused to negotiate.
 However at the second  Possession hearing on Dec18th .
Judge Pearl ordered that LBB should try and negotiate some form of licence to keep the library open, in order to protect the rights of the protesters under Articles 10 and 11 of the Human Rights Act and to preserve 'proportionality' between the rights of the protesters and the rights of the council.
It was this Direct Action combined with the placing of the building on the register as a community asset by local residents that in the end forced the council to negotiate. The supporters of Occupy also acted as caretakers looking after the building and ennabling a wide variety of events to take place in co-operation with the local community.
They helped to strengthen the bonds emerging between different sections of the community so that at the meeting on Jan 29th many residents from different local groups stepped forward to thank the squatters and occupiers for their crucial help.
 One local  resident Maureen Ivens  Chairwoman of the Save Friern Barnet Library group, said of all the different groups that had come together "We are here as one".
Occupy London is against the cuts and continues to support the National LIbraries Campaign and the local community in their determination to install a professional librarian. This action by the local community in no way replaces or diminishes the responsibilty of the council and government to carry out its responsibilities under the 1964 Libraries Act.
 However as a result of all the work done  by an alliance of local residents, squatters,occupiers and legal advisers, the The Friern Barnet Community Library (Ltd) trustees will be handed over the keys by the council for a temporary  licence allowing then to keep the Friern
Barnet library building open until a full two year lease is signed by both parties.