Police attack Aylesbury estate occupation - call for solidarity

Around 100 riot police attacked the Aylesbury estate occupation on Tuesday night at 7pm. Crowds of protesters gathered, including comrades from the Revolutionary Communist Group and other local organisations, to oppose the violent police eviction which was responding to an IPO issued by the court earlier in the day.

Police are confronted by Aylesbury Occupation protesters

Police used angle grinders and battering rams to enter the occupation, surrounded by masked up police with riot helmets and video cameras. 6 people were snatched, trampled and arrested for supporting the protest. However the occupation continued to resist, moving to a nearby building next door, outwitting the police and local authorities. On the night protesters also confronted bailiffs and council workers who had been employed to weld shut the previous occupation, guarded by police.

Bailiffs and council workers confronted

Police finished their attack by applying a 24 hour dispersion order on the estate, in an attempt to squash the political support for the protesting occupation.

Riot police violently snatch and drag away a protester

The Aylesbury Occupation has called for an increase in solidarity, and to help defend those arrested.

You can visit the occupation at the Chartridge block on the Aylesbury Estate, off Westmoorland Rd. You can come at any time in the day. Bring friends and solidarity (see blog on what items are required most)! There will be a full program of events again starting at the new occupation from Saturday 21st February.

A statement released by the occupation can be read here:


The Occupation lives on in a nearby block

Labour MP Diane Abbott faces hostility and anger at housing meeting in Southwark

Photo: Peoples's Republic of Southwark

How can we solve the housing crisis? This was the question set by a public meeting called by Southwark Defend Council Housing (SDCH) on 10 February. Following the recent protest occupation of the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark - a huge council estate earmarked for demolition and 'regeneration' - there was a new mood in the meeting, with several speakers suggesting that a housing movement is starting to develop. The majority in the meeting were clear about how we can solve the housing crisis - we need to escalate the fight and we cannot trust our politicians. Headline speaker Diane Abbott MP refused to publicly support the occupation or condemn the actions of Southwark Labour council. Her useless speech only served to confirm the mood and comments from other speakers and the floor - that the Labour Party does not and will not represent working class people.

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Lend Lease Corporation Limited – another octopus

The South London Revolutionary Communist Group leaflet supporting the occupation of the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark (fight4theaylesbury.wordpress.com) says of Southwark’s Labour-led council that its attacks on the Aylesbury Estate are just like their attacks on the Heygate Estate; ‘The Heygate was sold for £50m to Lend Lease even though it cost Southwark £65m to evict the tenants! Several council members then went to work for Lend Lease! Lend Lease paid for a trip to Cannes for the head of Southwark council!’ On 5 December 2014 Southwark Council announced that Lend Lease had received planning permission for the next phase of its £1.5bn regeneration of the Elephant and Castle. Southwark Council approved plans for 593 new homes and 43,000 square feet of retail space at Elephant Park, to be named West Grove. This follows the launch of 360 homes, known as South Gardens, earlier in 2014; ‘Lend Lease will build nearly 2,500 new homes on the site between now and 2025’, said the Council. So why is Lend Lease so favoured by Southwark Council?

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Whittington Hospital - stop cuts and outsourcing! Local activists speak at Whittington Hospital board meeting 4/2/2015

We have been campaigning against cuts and outsourcing at the Whittington for more than two years now. During this time, hundreds of thousands has been spent by Whittington Health to pay consultants, for example Uniparts Consultants. Plans for a sell off of land, presumably drawn up with the help of these private consultants, ended up being scrapped last year after local protest. According to the Camden New Journal 10 board members have resigned since then.

So it should be no surprise that local people are angry and want answers about the future of the hospital. A number of points were raised in our letter to you ahead of this meeting, which you gave partial answers to, but important questions remain.

Firstly regarding medical secretarial work at the hospital and our question of how many redundancies had been made as a result of contracting Dictat IT for digital dictation. You answered none, but it has been reported in the press that Medical Secretarial posts have been made redundant. We want to know how many medical secretarial posts have been made redundant at the hospital, not how many people, which seems to be the basis for your answer. We think it is no coincidence that digital dictation work is now being done by a private company.

Secondly it’s clear from your letter that the ISIS short stay ward is under threat of closure as you admit it is ‘under review’. Local people are not convinced that the real reason for this review is patient safety and experience as opposed to cutting costs. When will we know what the plans are?

Similarly you make no bones about the very real possibility of further outsourcing of hospital contracts to private providers. How the private sector can help we do not know. We have seen the recent example of Hitchingbrooke hospital, where private company Circle walked away from the hospital saying that the contract was not ‘viable’ (read profitable). This illustrates the very obvious point that hospitals cannot be run like businesses, where unprofitable activities can just be scrapped.

What is the Trust board doing to push back against cuts that are being made to funding for frontline services. For example, were you among those hospital trusts that wrote to Monitor recently to protest against further reductions in the government tariff - payments for hospital treatment, which is starving hospitals of essential funds? If you are serious about protecting this hospital then we would welcome you to join our protests, and the Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition. If you stand up to the government, local people will back you.

Finally, when the plans for cuts and the land sell-off were shelved, the chair of the board, Steve Hitchins said at a public meeting of DWHC that the plan would still be to apply for Foundation Trust status. Is this still then case? If so when will the public hear the plans and will it necessitate more cuts?

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