One of the oldest community squats in Brixton is due to be evicted this week, with the residents of Clifton Mansions on Coldharbour Lane expected to be thrown out into the street in a major police operation that starts at 8am on Tuesday, 12th July 2011 (Scroll down for party report – photos to follow in the morning).
[Archive Oct 2003 view of the entrance to Clifton Mansions]
After being left empty and neglected by Lambeth Council, the 22 flats that make up Clifton Mansions have been maintained by squatters who took over the building in the 1990s.
With the occupants given just two weeks to quit, the police operation on Tuesday will see Coldharbour Lane blocked off while residents are thrown out of the property.
It’s been reported that after the evictions, Lambeth Council will pay Camelot, a private company, to provide “live-in guardians” to occupy Clifton Mansions, before handing over the building to property developers for the inevitable luxury private flats – priced way out of reach of the local community, natch.
Protest and party – 11th July
A big party has been planned to coincide with the evictions, starting at 8pm the night before (Mon 11th) and going on through the night until the Old Bill arrive in the morning.
At the time of writing, over 930 people have said that they’ll be attending, although the Facebook event was later marked as cancelled. Check the boards for updates.
*** Party report: 2am 12th July
I’ve just come back from the party and feel quite sad. Instead of celebrating and respecting this old Brixton squat, there’s twats on the roof throwing bottles and cans onto the people below while others are trying to trash the place.
Some residents have wisely kept their doors closed and only let in friends, while a load of Facebook tossers think it’s cool to piss wherever they feel like it and just act like arseholes.
We left after getting sprayed by piss that some moron had thrown off the roof. Some people near us got soaked.
It’s a read sad footnote to what was once a thriving community.
Update 12th July: the Independent has run a piece on Clifton Mansions:
A community of squatters that has lived in a set of artists’ flats in south London for more than 10 years is to be evicted today as part of a larger clampdown on the unauthorised occupation of the country’s vacant properties. The local council will pay for “live-in guardians” to look after the flats until they are sold at auction.
Lambeth Council is to evict about 50 people from Clifton Mansions, a block of 22 flats in the centre of Brixton that has become known for housing alternative musicians and artists, including members of the Irish punk-folk band The Pogues and the Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller.
In an attempt to crack down on “anti-social behaviour” and provide what councillors call “vital funds” for the London borough of Lambeth, which has lost £37m of its government subsidy this year, all squatters at Clifton Mansions will be removed from their homes by bailiffs and police. The entire road will be sealed off for the eviction
Below is the press release from Defend Council Housing, released the day before the eviction.
Resist the evictions at Clifton Mansions July 12 8am
Clifton Mansions On Coldharbour Lane is a community of squatters in the heart of Brixton. Squatted since the 1990′s the 22 flats are home to a large and diverse group of people. The residents have repaired and maintained the properties after Lambeth Council left them empty and neglected. Clustered around a central courtyard Clifton Mansions is a safe and vibrant community where violence and abuse are not tolerated.
On Tuesday 12 July 2011 the police plan to block off Coldharbour Lane and enforce the eviction of all the people living in Clifton Mansions. Making the astonishing claim that evicting Clifton Mansions will somehow solve the problem of drug crime in Brixton, the police failed to consult with local councillors before pushing ahead with this plan. Clifton Mansions residents have received only two weeks notice that they are to be evicted from their homes.
Following the evictions, Lambeth Council will pay Camelot, a private company, to provide “live-in guardians” to occupy Clifton Mansions. The squatters have been providing a free guardian service for years. Why make people homeless and then pay a multinational company to occupy their homes?
Eventually Lambeth wants to sell Clifton Mansions to property developers, further reducing Lambeth’s social housing stock in central Brixton. Clifton Mansions will be turned into luxury flats priced well beyond the means of the local community.
Please contact the council and the police to let them know what you think.
Show your support on eviction day:
12 July – 8am – Clifton Mansions – 429 Coldharbour Lane
They’re closing the street so lets have a party
Discuss the eviction on our Brixton forum
‘Brixton community under threat from greedy developers’ (Archive article for 2003)