On Saturday 14th April, after a week of rain, on what felt like the first warm and sunny day of the year, just shy of a hundred people gathered in central London for the inaugural Land Justice Network Landlords’ Game guided walk.
We listened to Bonnie VandeSteeg introduce the Land Justice Network, Glyn Robbins talk about the housing crisis and Lynne Davis from the Landworkers’ Alliance talk about the detrimental impact of land prices on farmers, as well as joining together in song, singing ‘John Ball‘ with Robin Grey from Three Acres And A Cow.
We then made our way through the Grosvenor Estate, with Guy Shrubsole from Who Owns England guiding us with stories connected to the buildings and land around us, including this massive and fabulously expensive building which has been empty for fourteen years:
We heard Dave Morris from London Friends of Greenspaces Network speak about the impact of austerity on our parks and outside the London office of notorious tax haven the British Virgin Isles, Christian Eriksson talked about his work for Private Eye tracking the massive increase in tax haven ownership of UK property by various dubious characters.
Guy and Robin experimented with monopoly money confetti outside of Foxtons’ Mayfair branch. They quickly locked the door on us, fearing that we were there for more robust mischief:
We stopped outside the Grosvenor Hotel, which hosts all manner of morally bankrupt events including a recent one where public land was sold off to the highest bidder. Bonnie gave us insight into her work with unions supporting the workers there.
We gently explored the edges of the law as the walk arrived in Hyde Park where it is illegal to gather for rallies and generally paraded around the most expensive streets of London having a lovely time. There were a few unexpected guest speakers including this fine young chap:
The Revolutionary Communist Group definitely won the best banner award:
We ended in Cadogan Square, often referred to as a ghost square as a result of the numerous empty properties in it. The walk was closed by Alex from Past Tense talking about history of resistance, Pilgrim from the Radical Housing Network speak about Grenfell and housing provision in Kensington & Chelsea, and our Bonnie shared a few parting thoughts.
You can download the map and guide yourself here and try the walk out for yourself – https://www.landjustice.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/landlords-game-map.pdf – it works best printed doubled-sided on to A3. The fabulous artwork is by Nick Hayes.