Sleepover protest led by Russell Brand draws 150 to Sweets Way estate | Society | The Guardian
A “sleepover” protest at an occupied housing estate in north London organised by the comedian Russell Brand, after residents were moved out to make way for a housing redevelopment, attracted more than 150 people on Tuesday night .
A party atmosphere, complete with food vans, balloons and a sound system, provided the backdrop to an event attended by dozens of former residents of Sweets Way, Whetstone, in Barnet, as housing activists from across London spent the night on the estate.
Brand, a recent champion of displaced social housing tenants in the capital, called for the sleepover to protest against the redevelopment of Sweets Way by Annington Property Ltd, which owns land and homes on the estate and which moved tenants out to make way for a private housing redevelopment.
Brand’s website says: “Sweets Way Resists is a campaign led by residents of the Sweets Way estate in Barnet and their supporters, to prevent the social cleansing of our north London community by Annington Homes and Barnet Homes. At a time when residents are being told there are no truly affordable homes left in Barnet, Annington should not be allowed to bulldoze our homes to make way for luxury flats!”
Local resident Rosa de Souza said: “These housing protests are happening all over London. Developers are destroying communities. This is social cleansing. People don’t matter any more, just profit.”
The occupation of Sweets Way began last week, when four of the boarded-up properties were occupied by squatters protesting against the redevelopment. DuringTuesday’s sleepover, metal grilles were removed from two more recently evacuated homes, revealing pristine conditions inside. The occupiers invited those who had lost their homes on the estate to “move back in”.
Protesters from other housing occupations across the capital joined forces with the squatters. Katya Nasim, a housing activist, said: “There is a sense that things are critical. People are coming together and breaking down divisions.
”Brand told the Guardian: “There are 1.5m empty buildings in the UK. The entire crisis of homelessness is a confection, a creation, unnecessary.”