Mass trespass calling for land justice in the south west

On Sunday about 75 protesters travelled to the Bathurst Estate in Cirencester to participate in a mass trespass, calling for land Justice. Organised by groups including RisingUp and the Land Justice Network the protest included speeches, songs and  marching band.

Photo: Robin Grey

Gail Bradbrook of RisingUp said afterwards:

[Lord Bathurst] watched on with family and game keepers bemusedly / slightly chewing a wasp at times – but we got a good balance of friendliness and calling out behaviours that need to change I think. It was quite a spectacle!

The protesters marched down the main avenue into the estate and then went to a private field and climbed the fence to surround a tree on the land. A banner was raised over the main road leading into Cirencester saying “No Justice Without Land Justice”.

The trespass was to demonstrate that land is an essential resource that our society, culture and economy depend upon. However, land ownership in Britain is still one of the most unequal in the world. 0.6% of the population owns 69% of the land. More than a third is still owned by the aristocracy whose ancestors seized it during the Norman Conquest and through the use of land trusts they are avoiding paying inheritance tax while maintaining the concentration of ownership to this day. During the enclosures our ancestors were violently thrown off the land and much of our current common land is being privatised (Cahill, 2001).

Peaceful civil disobedience can be a useful tool in changing things for the better. Mass trespasses have achieved successes in the past, such as at Kinder Scout, which celebrated its 86th anniversary on the same day and helped to provide bring about the right to roam.

Simon Bramwell, from RisingUp in Stroud, said:

It’s especially relevant to undertake a civil disobedience on the Bathurst Estate, much of which is owned offshore while the owner receives vast subsidies from taxpayers. Some of the land is being sold off for mostly unaffordable housing. It’s totally illustrative how there is one rule for the rich and another for the rest of us.

Katharine Hallewell of the Land Justice Network added:

Everything flows from the land, our well being, our freedom and our equality. That we are still living under a system of landownership handed down from the Norman conquests speaks volumes about our so called democracy.

The trespass was reported on BBC Radio Gloucester and there has been much discussion and sharing on social media since, including the Lady Bathurst getting stuck in!

You can watch an unedited video of the day here. Guest blog by Gail to follow.

Source: Who Owns Britain, Kevin Cahill, 2001.

 

Adapted from a press release by Gail Bradbrook of RisingUp.

Have your say on powers for dealing with unauthorised development and encampments

The government is concerned about the damage caused by people who occupy land without consent of the owners.

They have opened a consultation in which they mention camps used by Traveller communities. Through the consultation, which closes Friday 15th June 2018, they want to hear your views on existing legal powers that can be used in the case of unlawful camps, and to discuss whether new powers are needed.

Photo: Ferdia Earle

Why does this matter?

If the government introduce new criminal penalties for people who occupy land without the consent of the owner, this will potentially have a harsh and unfair effect on Traveller communities. Many other people (for example homeless persons and political activists) could also be impacted by any change in the law. It is really important that the government hear from as many people as possible from all parts of the community. You do NOT need to know in detail about the law to give your views.

What does the consultation cover?

The government are looking for people’s views on the following issues. You do not need to have an opinion on every part of the consultation. The questions are framed around the idea that camps and occupations are a problem, but you do not have to agree with this to respond to the consultation.

  • What do you know about occupations and camps in your area that happen without consent of the owners? What are your views on the situation in your area?
  • What involvement do the police have when people occupy land without consent? Do you think that the police should have more powers?
  • Do local authorities need more powers to force people to leave land?
  • Should the police have more powers to require people to leave land that they are occupying?
  • Should there be a new criminal offence that can be used where people camp on land without the consent of the owner?
  • How can local authorities make more use of legal orders called injunctions to prevent people occupying land without consent?
  • How can local authorities, police and local communities work together to prevent problems that might be caused by camps and occupations?
  • Could court action to evict occupiers be made to happen more quickly?
  • Should a special quick court process called an Interim Possession Order apply to camps on open land?
  • How can planning controls be used to deal with camps and occupations?
  • Should the government produce new a new policy on camps and occupations?
  • What is stopping local authorities from providing more sites that Travellers can use?
  • What impact might any changes in law and policy have on travelling communities?
  • Do you have any other comments related to camps and occupations?

How can I get involved?

Anyone can let the government know their views via the consultation weblink (https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NW6G3YD). You do not have to answer every question.

You can also email your thoughts to landjusticeuk@gmail.com and we will try to put together a response on behalf of the network.

The consultation closes on Friday 15th June 2018. If you would like to be part of the land justice network response, please contact landjusticeuk@gmail.com before Friday 25th May 2018.

~ Dr Bonnie Holligan, lecturer in property law at the University of Sussex

London Renters Union take action

In London, tenancies are short, disrepair is common, and rents are higher than almost anywhere in the world.

After just a few weeks of organising, London Renters Union members at Eros House flats in Catford took action to demand an end to evictions and for urgent safety and disrepair issues to be solved.

The steadfast residents of Eros House in Catford took action to demand an end to unsafe conditions and evictions in their homes. They delivered a letter, with lots of energy to Lewisham Council and one of the management companies that runs the tower block they live in. They were supported by LRU members and activists from Newham and across our city.

They’ve struggled with electrical hazards, serious damp and mould and faulty heating for too long – and some residents are facing eviction by the private company they rent from.

Amina and Michael, LRU

London Renters Union was set by a coalition including Radical Housing Network, Take Back The City, Generation Rent, Digs (Hackney Renters), and People’s Empowerment Alliance for Custom House (PEACH). They’re currently building their first pilot branch in Newham and hope to have branches across the city by the end of 2018.

You can show your support for LRU members at Eros House by sharing the report back from today’s action on Twitter or Facebook:

The Tweet to retweet is at https://twitter.com/LDNRentersUnion/status/984081149050916864 .

The Facebook post to share is at https://www.facebook.com/LondonRentersUnion/posts/434286730327689 .

The full blog post with more info is at: http://londonrentersunion.org/2018/04/11/eros-house-letter-hand-in/

Urban Right to Buy Developments in Scotland

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

An Aberdeen community have used new community buyout powers to claim a piece of private land as their own, becoming the first in Northern Scotland to utilise the Urban Right to Buy scheme. The land, that was once a bowls club, will be used as a community market garden and cafe.

http://www.scottishcommunityalliance.org.uk/articles/2720/

Scottish Land Commission publish discussion paper about diversifying land ownership

From Photochrom Prints Collection at the Library of Congress – Picture in the public domain

Scotland, as many know, is quite a few years ahead of England with land reform.

The Scottish Land Commission has just published a discussion paper by Peter Peacock about diversifying land ownership which is our recommended reading this week!

https://landcommission.gov.scot/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Land-Lines-Land-Ownership-Peter-Peacock-March-2018.pdf

Promo video for The Landlord’s Game

THE LANDLORD’S GAME: a tour of London’s land and housing crisis. Please share this wicked promo video via facebook or youtube and then come along on Saturday 14th April, Mayfair!

Facebook event page – https://www.facebook.com/events/154637835243225/

National gathering in March

Come to Land Justice Network’s next national gathering to celebrate the start of our Week of Action on Land Rights, discuss what the network’s been up to and plot fresh actions together!

We’ll meet up 12 noon to eat lunch together (bring a dish if you can) and start the meeting at 1pm, finishing 4pm with optional social time at a nearby pub afterwards.

Facebook event page is https://www.facebook.com/events/169320923865119/

If you need financial support so you can make it to the event please drop us an email at landjusticeuk@gmail.com

Friends of the Earth offices, The Printworks, 139 Clapham Road, London, SE1 0DG

Did the Mayor of London just say what I think he said?

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan joins calls for the government to make all property ownership in London transparent.

In particular, he urges the government to speed up plans for a new public register of the beneficial ownership of foreign companies that own UK property.

Roughly 44% of all the UK properties owned by overseas registered companies are located in London, according to recent research from the Land Registry.

Khan believes that in order to help prevent offences such as tax evasion and theft, the ownership of UK property should be more transparent.

Go to the original tweet.

Video on Scottish land rights – Snowboarding, bothies and the right to roam

I hope we can one day make a video this compelling about land rights in England!

Right to Roam from Patagonia on Vimeo.