Category Archives: Posted

Sweden has just listed the entire country to stay at for free on Airbnb

http://uk.businessinsider.com/sweden-lists-entire-country-on-airbnb-2017-5

From a London Eye capsule suspended 443 feet in the sky to a luxury indoor forest, you may have seen some unique listings on Airbnb over the years. Now, there’s an entire country up for grabs.

Sweden has turned its entire country into a listing on the holiday rental website.

A collaboration between Airbnb and Visit Sweden, the listing is an effort to promote the country’s “freedom to roam” principle, or “allemansrätten,” which gives people the right to freely explore all public spaces across the country.

The idea, protected by Swedish law, is that people don’t need to book accomodation to visit the country — they can just grab a tent and freely access any of the publicly owned land. Private gardens and lands under cultivation are the only exceptions, although a “do not disturb, do not destroy” rule applies.

“It’s a home with all the necessities and amenities that any great home should have,” the listing reads. “It’s a place where you can eat berries from the ground, sleep under the stars, swim in the lakes and roam freely.”

There are a number of specific locations suggested on the site, including a “Rustic Forest Retreat in Vintage Style” located in a “historic and mysterious forest in western Värmland” which “offers high quality accommodation and a memorable stay.”

“Go to bed with the midnight sky above your head and if you can’t fall asleep, try counting the stars. It usually helps!” the listing reads. “In the fall there are wild mushrooms that you’ll enjoy foraging – from August to November you’ll find a lot of delicious chanterelles on the ground.”

It adds that it is available 365 days a year, accomodates everyone, has unlimited beds, and check-in of “whenever.”

A statement from Airbnb said: “Every lake is your infinity pool, every mountaintop your granite terrace, every meadow becomes a garden and every forest a pantry filled with mushrooms and berries. Feel free to take a morning jog or bike ride across open fields or trek through challenging mountain terrain. Should you want an upgrade, you do not need to ask anyone, just find the best location that suits you and your mood.”

Victory for Tent City homeless as judge slams Bristol City council

Judge criticises Bristol City Council as Tent City homeless people celebrate victory in banning case

By Tristan_Cork | Friday August 26, 2016

Bristol City Council solicitor Shazia Daya’s signature on court papers
http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/judge-criticises-bristol-city-council-as-tent-city-homeless-people-celebrate-victory-in-banning-case/story-29657790-detail/story.html
A senior judge has criticised Bristol City Council for attempting to effectively banish a group of homeless people from the entire city, after the group won a major victory in court to stop the ban.
Council chiefs backed down in their attempt to impose a court injunction on the so-called ‘Tent City’ group of around 10 homeless people who have been camping for months in a park in Easton, and agreed a deal with them.

The council had tried to evict the 10 from the park and pass an injunction which would have meant they would be committing a crime if they slept rough of camped on council-owner public spaces anywhere else in Bristol effectively banning them from the city.
The original injunction made it a crime for them to sleep rough anywhere in Bristol
But just minutes before the case at the Bristol Civil Courts, council legal chiefs backed down. Instead, the out-of-court deal they agreed with the homeless people was that they would be evicted from the Peel Street Park in Pennywell Road in 28 days, and that the injunction would only apply to that park, not the whole city, and only for six months.
Judge Roderick Denyer QC welcomed the climbdown, criticised the council and praised the homeless people, who included an injured ex-serviceman, for challenging it.
“The injunction as sought initially was far too wide, that was the view I had two weeks ago,” he told the court. “I take on board fully that the ex-serviceman, for instance, served his time in the armed forces, was badly injured and spent a long time in hospital.
“I’m pleased it’s been able to be resolved. There’s a limit to what I can do in this situation. I don’t have any magic powers to deal with Bristol’s homelessness crisis and I would like to thank all the homeless people and the supporters for coming today. It’s an emotional area but I am very, very grateful, and I am pleased that this injunction is now in a much, much more sensible form,” he added.
The group of people living in the park had been supported by Bristol Housing Action Movement (BHAM), and an online crowd-funding appeal raised enough money to hire Derek McConnell, from South West Law, to represent them in court.
He slammed the council too, for the way officers had treated the homeless people. “There are other issues not covered, including the extent to which the authorities advise people if they don’t have local connections that is quite wrong legally, and the sooner the authority get away from this gate-keeping mentality to people presenting themselves as homeless the better,” he told the court.
The ex-serviceman, who asked not to be named in reports, said he was hopeful now that a home could be found for him. “I’ve gone from being told to get out of the city entirely, to now being told I’m an urgent priority, which is a good thing,” he said.
“They tried to put me in one of the ‘crash pads’ for homeless, but they are a hell-hole. We have people coming from those crash pads to stay at the tent city for a bit of peace and quiet. I’ve felt a lot safer there, and I’m going to stay with the lads until I’m sorted we’ve got a good community down there,” he added.

Another Tent City resident, a Polish man called Hubert, said he was pleased the council backed down. “I’ve been in England 12 years and worked and paid taxes for ten years, but ended up homeless after I lost my documents and can no longer work legally. When I get the documents again, I’ll be back on my feet,” he said.
“I’m really glad that the council aren’t doing this. I was feeling that they were going to force me out of the city, so I’m happy. I’m glad a lot of help and support from the local community, and from Richard and that can influence a judge and the council,” he added.
“It’s a definite victory,” said BHAM’s Richard Lloyd. “The residents of Tent City were going to be faced with a real problem in that they were going to have nowhere to live and nowhere to even be homeless in Bristol.
“It would’ve added a huge problem but now they can at least carry on trying to make a life for themselves here in Bristol. The judge said the original injunction was far too wide, and several times that a court can’t pass an injunction that it knows cannot be enforced. No one wants to jail homeless people.
“An injunction just for the park itself and just for six months is reasonable. The council lacks the resources to meet the need out there, but there needs to be a better dialogue between housing officers and the homeless people, and the likes of BHAM and Acorn Bristol on what homeless people’s rights are and what support they can get,” he added.
Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees, said the council ‘always tries to avoid’ taking court action against homeless people. “We always try to avoid taking this sort of action and we have spent a great deal of time engaging with the people in Peel Street Park since we first made contact with the camp back in April,” he said.
“However, we do not permit camping or sleeping rough in tents within our parks and open spaces, as we have to protect these areas and make sure they are available to everyone. The council and its partners understand that sometimes tents or temporary shelters are erected by vulnerable people in need of help and support. Those camped on the land have all been offered the support of St Mungo’s Outreach Team which is commissioned by the Local Authority to provide support to people sleeping rough.
“St Mungo’s visited the camp more than 18 times and spoke to 15 different people. In addition the council’s Streetwise team, which deals with anti-social behaviour issues, has visited the camp five times.
“At least three members of the camp have been supported into accommodation, with one of them also finding employment. A number of people were found to have connections with other areas and they were offered help with travel to that area and information on how to access further support once there. This offer was not always taken up, with some people choosing to remain in the camp. Those with a local connection to Bristol or no local connection to any local authority area, were offered a bed in a night shelter. An action plan was also drawn up for each person.
“The council works closely with its partners to ensure that those that are homeless are supported to access help and accommodation in the city. This support is ongoing and we will continue to engage with the people still left at the camp.
“The Rough Sleeping Partnership and other agencies are working to address the issue of homelessness in the city, as we believe that no one should be forced to sleep rough in Bristol. A number of extra bed spaces have been made available thanks to the partnership, with another two guardianship properties set to open in the coming weeks. We will continue to look at how we can all work together to support people and help them off the street as quickly as possible, as this remains one of our key priorities,” he added.

Victory for Tent City homeless as judge slams council

————————————————————————————-

Tent City triumph

Bristol 24/7 – Tilly Haines, August 26, 2016
https://www.bristol247.com/news-and-features/news/tent-city-triumph/
The residents of the so-called ‘Tent City’ in Easton have been given a reprieve as a judge criticised the city council for effectively attempting to expel the group of homeless people to outside the city borders.
The group were praised by the judge at Bristol Civic Courts for standing up for themselves with the council backing down at the last minute from threatening to evict them from their encampment in Peel Street Park.
Previously, the council had issued the residents with an injunction forbidding the defendants from rough sleeping, camping or the parking of any caravan or vehicle within the park off Pennywell Road, or in any other public open space within Bristol.
Around £1,500 was raised to help with their legal fees so that those living in the park could contest the case, which only lasted around 15 minutes on Friday morning, with some 10 protesters outside the courts.
An out-of-court negotiation was reached between a council representative and the defendants’ lawyer Derek McConnell which gives the residents of the park 28 days to be able to find somewhere else to live and now only applies to Peel Street Park.
Judge Roderick Denyer QC agreed that the injunction was now “in a much more sensible form” and recognised the need for Bristol to help the homeless.
Judge Denyer told the court: “There’s a limit to what I can do in this situation. I don’t have any magical powers to deal with Bristol’s homelessness crisis and I would like to thank all of the homeless people and the supporters for coming today. It’s an emotional area but I am very very grateful.”

The defendants and their supporters who attended the hearing were all pleased with the result.
Richard Lloyd from the Bristol Housing Action Movement said: “We’re very very happy. The injunction the council originally applied for was draconian and unhelpful and there was no way that was going to get through court, whereas the revised injunction they just conceded a lot down to a level that is really quite reasonable.”
An ex-serviceman and resident of Tent City who asked to remain anonymous told Bristol24/7 that he was badly injured and spent a lot of time in hospital.
Another resident, a Polish man who gave his name only as Hubert, said that he has lived in Bristol for 12 years but added that he lost all forms of ID and can no longer work legally.
The residents now have 28 days to leave Peel Street Park and move elsewhere, whether this be to another spot in their tents or into accommodation provided by a housing association.
Bristol mayor Marvin Rees said that the city council tries to avoid taking court action against homeless people and has spent “a great deal of time” engaging with the people in Peel Street Park since first making contact with the camp in April.
“However, we do not permit camping or sleeping rough in tents within our parks and open spaces, as we have to protect these areas and make sure they are available to everyone,” Rees said.
“The council and its partners understand that sometimes tents or temporary shelters are erected by vulnerable people in need of help and support.
“Those camped on the land have all been offered the support of St Mungo’s Outreach Team which is commissioned by the local authority to provide support to people sleeping rough.”

Michael Davitt and the Land League: an Irish Revolution

LookLeft: Ultán Gillen’s original article – Citizen Press Ltd., 24a/25 Hill St, Dublin 1.

Michael Davitt (1846-1906) is one of the most important figures of modern Irish history. A member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (the Fenians) from the 1860s, Davitt went on to play a leading role in the Land War of the 1880s that helped break the power of the landlords in Ireland and eventually led to the transfer of the ownership of the land of Ireland to the people. Thereafter, he advocated socialism. His success came from mixing direct struggle by the people for social justice with political action, writes Ultán Gillen.

Early Life

Davitt was born in Straide, County Mayo in 1846. The Great Famine was devastating Ireland’s poor. Between 1845 and 1851, the population fell by 2 million through death and emigration. A culture of emigration took hold that lasted for over a century, and which is now raising its head once more. Many landlords took advantage of the Famine to evict tenants to make greater profits. Davitt’s family was evicted, and soon emigrated to Lancashire. The atrocious conditions of the working class there, including the Irish emigrants, were recorded by Frederick Engels in his famous The Condition of the Working Class in England (1844). Aged only 10, Davitt began working in one of the area’s “dark satanic mills”, and lost an arm in an accident at 11. From birth, Davitt suffered the problems that have plagued modern Ireland – the poverty and emigration caused by inequality, and by government in the interest of a few and not the many. He experienced the worst effects of capitalism on both town and country. These experiences radicalised him.

The Fenians

In 1865, Davitt joined the IRB. The Fenians aimed to establish a democratic, secular republic by revolutionary means. Many Fenians were urban working class radicals, and they had links with Marx’s International Workingmen’s Association, the First International. Their secularism and their social radicalism made them enemies not just in the government but also in the Catholic Church, which excommunicated them. After the failed revolution of 1867, Davitt and others continued their struggle. Arrested in London in 1870 and jailed until 1877, he then emigrated to America.

The New Departure

In jail, Davitt’s belief that Irish political independence meant little without social change grew. He was both part of the early European socialist movement, and building on ideas that had been part of Ireland’s revolutionary tradition since the United Irishmen. He saw that the major problem facing the Irish people was the landholding system. Davitt and others persuaded the Fenians that social agitation was essential to gaining popular support. The other important change the New Departure brought about in republican thinking was a willingness to forge an alliance with Parnell’s Home Rule party, and to mix pressure inside and outside Parliament to bring about real change.

Davitt returned from America in 1879. The potato crop had failed again, and Famine once more threatened the poor farmers of the west. Tenants simply couldn’t meet the rents demanded by landlords. Mass resistance was organised until fair rents were agreed. Davitt and the agrarian radicals saw their chance. On 16th August 1879, the National Land League of Mayo was formed. On October 21st the Irish National Land League was founded in Dublin. Parnell was President and Davitt as one of the Secretaries. A national campaign of withholding rents, social and political agitation, and Parliamentary action began. Davitt himself was elected to Westminster. During the three years of the Land War, despite the jailing of Davitt and others, the Land League secured the “Three F’s” – Fair Rent, Fixity of Tenure (the right not to be easily evicted), and Free Sale.

The Land Leaguers had demonstrated the power of the united action of the poor to achieve real change that improved their lives. They blended familiar methods with new strategies and ways of thinking, and broke the dominance of the landlords. Davitt later wrote the history of the Land League revolution. He called it, The Fall of Feudalism (1904). After the Land War, the transfer of the land to the people was inevitable; this social revolution created the conditions for the struggle of 1916-1921.

The Cause of Labour

Davitt saw that inequality would not disappear with the disappearance of the landlords. He advocated land nationalisation, and set about organising workers in both town and countryside. He established the Irish Democratic Labour Federation in 1890, and contributed greatly to the formation of the British Labour Party. Like the United Irishmen before him, Davitt saw the struggle for true democracy and social justice in Ireland as part of an international revolutionary movement. Like James Connolly after him, he believed that painting the postboxes green was not enough – real freedom meant freedom from starvation and poverty, as well as independence. Davitt moved the Fenians away from narrow militarism to a truly revolutionary programme that embraced political struggle to put real power in the hands of the plain people of Ireland. His legacy is his example.

Poole council lied, DID issue tent eviction notice, despite initial claims it was ‘fraudulent’

AN EVICTION notice served to a homeless man after he pitched a tent up at an empty shop doorway WAS served by the Borough of Poole despite initial off-the-record claims the notice could have been fraudulent.

The Borough of Poole had first claimed that the notice had not come from the council until they were sent a photograph of the document, provided by the Daily Echo.

Even until Friday afternoon council staff were unwilling to confirm or deny they had issued the enforcement notice, arguing that an urgent investigation had been launched into the matter.

It was suggested that an unknown person working for the authority had helped to create the eviction notice, possibly by releasing the Borough of Poole’s logo.

A day later, it was confirmed that the tent had been served a notice by an officer working for the Borough of Poole after the Daily Echo pushed the council to confirm its actions.

“A notice would be an extreme measure,” a spokesman confirmed, adding that it was not in line with the council’s normal procedure.

“Borough of Poole works in conjunction with Bournemouth and Poole Rough Sleepers Team to offer services all rough sleepers in the Poole area,” the spokesman said.

“These services include physical and mental health advice, accommodation, and support.

“There are a small number of rough sleepers who persistently refuse the services offered and continue to put themselves and others at risk.

“The notice on the tent was served by a Borough of Poole officer following a request from Bournemouth and Poole Rough Sleepers Team, who had received a number of complaints from members of the public.

“These notices are rarely used and we will be reviewing our procedures to see if any lessons can be learned from this incident.”

The council had also claimed that it was a “complicated” issue as the tent had been pitched on private property, despite the eviction notice claiming the reason for the enforcement was because “camping is not permitted on Borough of Poole land”.

The Bournemouth and Poole Rough Sleepers team refused to comment on the matter.

Resident Karl Blanch contacted the Daily Echo to voice his outrage at the eviction notice after reading Friday’s story.

“Maybe this man doesn’t want to go into accommodation. Maybe he has a dog,” he said.

“Hopefully he will go into accommodation and everything will have a happy ending. But a lot of people don’t have a choice about what happens to them.

“This has really stuck in my mind.”

The tent had been removed from the shop entrance when the Daily Echo returned to Poole High Street on Saturday.

Sally Harvey, of the AOK Rucksack Appeal, said council staff were probably “doing the best they can” under the circumstances.

“They haven’t got the money with all the government cutbacks but they are trying very, very hard,” she said.

“Homeless people should not be evicted but they do need places to go. The ones who sleep in tents tend to have dogs and can’t be housed. It’s a very difficult situation.”

Squatters’ Handbook 14th edition (2016) – a 21st century entrepreneur’s bible

Fully up-to-date as of late 2016 and including everything you need to know to stay as long and as comfortably as possible in your new home. Squatting is a 21st century growth industry as The City encourages house price inflation and increasing use of ‘property’ as ‘investment’ for those on the QE ‘funny money’.

Chapters on: squatters’ rights; property guardians; first steps; finding a place; securing the place; dealing with alarms; proving it’s not residential; visitors to your place; dealing with the police; immigration; dealing with security guards; a note on filming; dealing with ‘owners’; fixing your place up; electricity; defending your home in court; enforcement of possession orders; enforcement of possession orders when places have been previously squatted; railway property; living in vehicles; gypsies and travellers; debt collectors; injunctions; organising; some squatting history; glossary of jargon and terms; further resources

Available from Bookfinder.com and Amazon.co.uk

‘Squat Belgravia’ target Qatari general’s £17m townhouse hours after being evicted from £15m mansion

‘Squat Belgravia’ target Qatari general’s £17m townhouse hours after being evicted from £15m mansion

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/squatters-target-qatari-general-s-17m-townhouse-hours-after-being-evicted-from-another-mansion-a3456346.html

mansion.jpgThe occupied mansion in Grosvenor Gardens PA

Squatters who occupied a Belgravia mansion hours after being evicted from another property now plan to use a neighbouring house owned by a Qatari ex-general as a “community centre”.

Activists from the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians were ejected from a £15 million base in nearby Eaton Place yesterday by police and bailiffs.

Within hours they were bringing bedding and furniture into a seven-storey property once owned by the Victorian archaelogist Augustus Pitt-River. It  has since been converted into offices.

The group also intend to use the empty mansion next door on Grosvenor Gardens as a community centre for talks, film screenings and events.

squatters-.jpg
Squatters enter the £17m mansion (PA)

According to Land Registry documents, that house — which has 18 bedrooms — was bought for £17 million in cash on June 22 by the former head of Qatar’s armed forces. Hamad bin Ali Al Attiyah supplied Libyan rebels in the 2011 civil war and is now president of Qatari football team El Jaish. The group said they were not intending to sleep in his house as it is a residential property and they would be quickly evicted. Tom Fox, 23, said the group had spotted the Pitt-Rivers house before moving into the Eaton Square address 10 days ago.

He said: “We thought we’d take Eaton Square first because it would be a better starting point but this one turns out to be worth much more. We will get into Buckingham Palace at this rate.

“We’re not here to cause damage and the courts know that.”

The group says it has taken in homeless people to provide them with food and accommodation during the cold winter nights. Mr Fox said: “We have to be a little bit selective about who we help because we don’t want the place turned into a crack den. We’re a family and everyone has to work together.”

‘The housing crisis has spread to everybody’, says former boss of Shelter

Isabelle Fraser – 8 JANUARY 2017

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/house-prices/robbthe-housing-crisis-has-spread-everybody/

From the roof of the east London office of the charity Shelter, you can see the remnants of over a century of the capital’s housing policy. Old terraced houses, turn of the century estates, oppressive Sixties tower blocks, the Modernist grandeur of the Barbican, and the knot of skyscrapers in the City beyond.

Years before he became chief executive of Shelter, Campbell Robb lived in a Peabody estate, much like the one below. Well-built and available at affordable rents, these kinds of homes are increasingly unavailable for London’s burgeoning Generation Rent, which PwC estimated that will increase from 40pc in 2000, to 60pc in 2025.

Downstairs in Robb’s office, there is a poster with ‘Enough is Enough!’ written in big red letters, commissioned for the charity’s 50th anniversary this year. Shelter started life campaigning for the millions of ‘hidden homeless’, who lived in slums; it was the same year as Kathy Come Home, Ken Loach’s famous film about homelessness.

It is now a powerful voice calling for ways to help solve the housing crisis, and ameliorate conditions those renting privately or struggling to find anywhere to live. Recent victories include the Government’s announcement in the Autumn Statement to ban letting fees for tenants; the charity continues to campaign for long tenancies for renters and runs a helpline for homeless people.

Now, Robb is leaving his post after seven years in the top job to head up the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. “One of the biggest challenges has been…to get enough people to recognise this was a housing crisis that was beginning to impact every bit of society. People thought it only affected certain kinds of people, the very poorest in slum conditions that Shelter was founded on,” he says. Since he joined, housing has made it way up the public’s priority list. When he arrived in January 2010, housing came in 18th on Ipsos Mori’s survey which finds the “single biggest issue” for Britons. In November 2016, it came fifth.

“The reason for that is affordability,” he says. The housing crisis “has spread to everywhere. It’s not just poor people, or those who are just managing, it’s right up there.” The average house price in the UK has climbed 29.4pc in the last seven years; in London it has soared by 69.6pc, far ahead of wage increases.

As a result, it has become a hot potato. “It’s a political issue that has become real for a lot of people across the country. Not just in Labour seats, but Conservative MPs have people in their constituencies who are saying my children can’t afford to buy,” he says. “We have a group of people who are in their 50s and 60s for the first generation since the Second World War, looking at their children’s housing prospects, and they are worse than their own.”

Not only is there political pressure coming from voters, but also from big companies.

Deloitte and KPMG both bought flats in the capital for their graduates to live in, and Shelter has teamed up with companies such as Starbucks to introduce a rental deposit scheme which workers can pay back, interest free.

It could have been even worse, he says. “In the last seven years, if interest rates had gone up by 2 or 3pc you would have seen a raft of repossessions like those in the 80s. You would have seen a crisis beyond what we already have. So in some ways housing policy has been lucky.”

This affordability crisis has been compounded by a “failure of certain policies”, he says, as well as the financial crisis and the austerity that followed. The previous governments, including New Labour and the coalition, all failed to build enough and put little focus on the supply side, he argues. They all “believed the way to solve the housing crisis was on the home ownership and on demand side, to effectively make money available cheaply through Help to Buy-type products, [which enables first-time buyers to purchase a home with a 5pc deposit] and less so in direct investment in house building.” Help to Buy was a crucial policy after the downturn, designed to get house builders moving again by stimulating demand. But that policy has continued, even while house builders are posting record profits once again.

There’s a problem with this model of solving the housing crisis, says Robb: “it’s broken”. “With the death of public housing and local authorities, the private house builders have had to carry that weight and they can’t,” he says. Part of the problem is due to the land market; the high cost of land forces developers to keep upping prices and making homes smaller. “You can’t criticise them for doing what they were set up to do, they are there to maximise profit for their shareholders,” he says. “That doesn’t necessarily translate into the best housing policy for Britain. That’s why you need more small builders, more land available – public and private – and you need public building”.

With the new Government, the rhetoric has changed noticeably. “This is a government that’s got more sense of a failed housing market than any of the previous ones,” he says. It has become more interventionist, even pinching policies from the Labour party’s manifesto, as was the case with banning letting fees. There is less focus on the importance of home ownership, and more money for affordable homes and talk of other types of housing, such as the private rental sector. Now, after seven years, the “house building budget has come back to what it was in 2008,” he says. “So we have seen a very big cycle”.

Part of the policy shift is a recognition that the market has changed remarkably during that time. “Over those seven years there was a massive growth of people in the rental sector, and the Government is finally catching up with the need to regulate that.”

Another change is the recognition of housing being a form of infrastructure, which Robb describes as “a big step”. “It’s never done that – it’s always separated it from roads and transport. They seem to finally recognise that investment will be an improvement to the economy like other types of infrastructure.”

Small movements and policy tweaks such as these are key to making up the deficit of homes that must be built, rather than big, sweeping changes, he argues. “It would be good if the Government had lots of different small things [planned for the upcoming housing white paper] because actually with a bit of investment, and a bit of policy and political will you can make this happen.”

Where others may see as an insurmountable challenge, Robb is hopeful about ending the housing crisis. “I am optimistic that it can be fixed. Having waited seven years, I have a government whose public pronouncements… are more nuanced and thought through than many of the previous governments’,” he says. With a promising Autumn Statement which promised billions to affordable housing, and a housing white paper on the way, “they may be swallows that don’t make a full spring but we can begin to hope that if they follow those things through, we might begin to see a start… I’m optimistic until I’m proven otherwise.”

LandBase – new centre for land based skills in Dorset

LandBase is the new centre for land based skills, based in Dorset. They will provide experience led, affordable, long and short-term courses for motivated landworkers, both current and aspiring.

They are currently working on putting together a number of courses, but will be officially launching in January 2017 at the Oxford Real Farming Conference
LandBase website is at: http://land-base.weebly.com/

Haringey lives torn apart and assets lost: this is what a Labour privatisation would mean

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/19/lives-torn-apart-assets-labour-privatisation-north-london-haringey
The battle under way in the capital should trouble us all. Proponents call it innovation, but I say it’s an assault on the poor

Aditya Chakrabortty Thursday 19 January 2017

A battle broke out on Tuesday in one of the scruffier parts of north London. It didn’t look much: a few dozen placard wavers outside Haringey civic centre, and a restive public heckling councillors as they debated big plans for their future. But this is a battle that concerns all of us. At its heart is a programme that is among the most audacious I’ve ever seen. Haringey wants to privatise huge swaths of public property: family homes, school buildings, its biggest library. All of it will be stuck in a private fund worth £2bn.

It comes with huge risks. It will demolish precious social housing, turf out families and rip apart communities. It will hand democratic control to a massive private entity. The 20-year plan is ‘unprecedented’, agreed backbench councillors. They voted to slam on the brakes. But if they’re ignored and the plan goes through, it will form a blueprint for an altered capital. London will lurch closer towards becoming a playground for speculators, a dormitory for professionals, and off-limits both to the working class and to public dissent.

This may be the first you’ve heard of it – the Haringey development vehicle has scored barely a mention outside the local and trade press. Odd, given how large it is, and how vital to council leader Claire Kober, who is also chair of the London Councils group.

Having grown up nearby, in Edmonton, I know the problems that fester in parts of Haringey

Kober claims that a joint venture with a mega-developer is the sure route to 5,000 new houses and a sparkling town centre. To which the obvious question is: homes for whom? I’ve been through the paperwork, had dozens of conversations with councillors and locals, and put a series of questions to the council. And it’s clear they won’t be for the 8,000 Haringey families on the waiting list for a council house. If anything, this plan will add to the number who are homeless. Not by accident but by design: the plans are explicit about making accommodation in this London borough even more expensive.

Why would a Labour council even think of doing this to its own voters? Because the hyper-ambitious leadership is still gripped by zombie Blairism and its mania for ‘innovation’. And because Kober and her allies appear to believe the best way to relieve an area of poverty is to kick out the poor people who live there. Or, as they call it, creating ‘mixed and balanced communities’.

Having grown up next door, in Edmonton, I know the problems that fester in parts of Haringey: the death of light industry leading to a jobs drought, and some of the worst deprivation in Britain. There’s a reason Tottenham was ground zero for the 2011 riots. Add to that the impossible municipal maths of delivering year upon year of Westminster-mandated spending cuts while trying not to drown in a historic housing crisis. So many needs, so little money.

Faced with these intractables, Kober and her circle have decided the way to fix Tottenham is to turn it into somewhere else. So they hire Nick Walkley, who at Barnet handed nearly everything his council did to the giant outsourcing company Capita. They throw public money at starchitects to get them to set up a branch in the borough. They blow the annual running cost of a daycare centre on a redesign of the council logo. ‘Haringey London’, it now reads, with an undisguised spatial neediness. This is the kind of regeneration mindset that can’t see a greasy spoon without wishing it were a Starbucks.

And Kober gets cosy with the property industry. Developers spend tens of thousands bringing her and the team over to property fairs in Cannes. And there, among the yachts, the council announces the shortlist of private-sector partners for this development vehicle.

A gorgeous art deco town hall is flogged to Hong Kong investors to turn into a boutique hotel and luxury apartments – with just four affordable homes. Locals are furious, and Labour councillors rebel. The chief whip, Adam Jogee, ticks off colleagues for their ‘entirely unacceptable behaviour’. Jogee, by the way, works for a lobbying firm that represents two of the three corporates on that development vehicle shortlist. That same lobbyist dined Kober and her heads of finance and housing no fewer than 13 times.

Analysis The radical model fighting the housing crisis: property prices based on income

Community land trusts battle gentrification by linking house prices to local wages rather than the market rate. But can this growing movement for ‘permanently affordable’ homes really ease Britain’s housing crisis?

I’m not accusing these politicians of corruption. But they seem to have such a corroded sense of ethics that they can no longer discern inappropriate behaviour.

Then they start on this new development vehicle. The council’s business case for it is too important a job for any local official: a property consultancy is hired in. As one might expect of policy written by the real-estate industry, the document contains hardly a word on social housing. Indeed, the council tells me it has no targets for building social housing through this new venture, just ‘affordable’ units. And as everyone knows, ‘affordable’ means its opposite.

As for the joint venture, only a few councils have ever tried them. That business case doesn’t mention the failures, such as in Croydon, south London. It doesn’t mention how the venture in Tunbridge Wells collapsed, leaving locals to pick up the tab.

Other things not mentioned: democratic accountability and the rights of council tenants. Whole estates will be razed to the ground, and the council confirmed to me that the people who live there are not guaranteed the right to return on the same tenancy contracts.

Not that the tenants know any of this. The first council estate to go into the vehicle will be Northumberland Park: close to the Lea Valley waterways and blessed with good transport links into central London. Such attributes make it far too good for mere council tenants, of course. But last week, when I asked residents if they knew their homes were set to be demolished, some stared at me in wonder.

Haringey’s own consultants admit: ‘There is very little sound knowledge of the proposed regeneration in Northumberland Park.’

I keep thinking about one couple: Sirajul and Moriam Islam. He drives a school bus, she’s an assistant in a nearby special-needs school. They bought their flat from the council 30 years ago and have spent years doing it up. Now they’ll be turfed out with a sum that will not buy them another flat in the area. They talk about seeing out their final years in a strange new town, among people they don’t know. ‘Like living in a prison,’ sighs Moriam. Then Sirajul tells me about his boy who’s training to be a doctor, and his girl who’s about to start as a teacher. ‘I always told them: ‘We might be working-class, but you can do anything.’ The mixed and balanced and ‘aspirational’ community Kober and co are seeking is right under their noses, if only they’d see it.

This has been the story of central London’s transformation over the past decade: clearing of the commons, dismissal of the little people, deference towards developers and the replacement of reality with property-marketing fiction. If Haringey implements these proposals then outer London is next. Which is why I believe this battle is one that the rest of us can’t sit out. Enough of forced gentrification. Enough of privatising public assets. Enough of that rancid New Labour contempt for its own voters. This has to stop.

Thousands sign petition for royal family to pay £369m Buckingham Palace repairs themselves

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Thousands sign petition for royal family to pay for Buckingham Palace repairs themselves
Buckingham Palace is set for £370 million renovations 

Almost 15,000 people have signed a petition calling for the royal family to pay for the £369 million repairs to Buckingham Palace.

Yesterday it was announced that the royal residence is to undergo a major 10-year refurbishment.

The hefty bill will come from a 66% increase in the Sovereign Grant – the funding for the monarchy’s official duties – for the 10-year period, with the total works estimated to cost £369 million.

But thousands of people think the royals should foot the bill for Her Maj’s luxury pad.

A petition suggesting The Crown and its estates should pay for the renovations has received just shy of 15,000 backers at time of publishing.

Many think the royals should pay for their own repairs (Picture: Getty)
Many think the royals should pay for their own repairs

Mark Johnson, who set up the petition, said: ‘There is a national housing crisis, the NHS is in crisis, austerity is forcing cuts in many front line services.

‘Now the Royals expect us to dig deeper to refurbish Buckingham Palace. The Crown’s wealth is inestimable. This is, in a word, outrageous.’

It is estimated that the benefits of the upgrade, including longer summer opening hours, more private tours and savings due to the improvements, could be around £3.4 million each year.The refit, described by officials as ‘essential’, will include replacing boilers, and miles of cables, pipes and electrical wires when it begins in April next year, subject to Parliamentary approval.

It is also forecast that the work, taken wing by wing, beginning with the front of the London landmark after essential works are completed in the first two years, will reduce the palace’s carbon footprint by 40% in the future.

The Queen spends around a third of the year hosting garden parties, receptions, investitures and other events at her official home.

The work needed reflects the age of the building, which was first used as a royal palace by Queen Victoria and has not been decorated since 1952, the year the Queen ascended the throne.

The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales are ‘completely supportive’ of the refit, officials said.

When the work is finished in 2027, the grant is expected to return to its current level of 15%.

To: The Chancellor – Make Royals Pay for Palace Renovation

Campaign created by Mark Johnson

Buckingham Palace is about to be given a £369m refurbishment. Tax payers are paying for it. The Crown and its estates should be made to fund its own renovations.

Why is this important?

There is a national housing crisis, the NHS is in crisis, austerity is forcing cuts in many front line services. Now the Royals expect us to dig deeper to refurbish Buckingham Palace. The Crown’s wealth is inestimable. This is, in a word, outrageous.

Kevin Cahill: “Queen Elizabeth II is the largest landowner on Earth.”

Queen Elizabeth II, head of state of the United Kingdom and of 31 other states and territories, is the legal owner of about 6,600 million acres of land, one sixth of the earth’s non ocean surface.

She is the only person on Earth who owns whole countries, and who owns countries that are not her own domestic territory. This land ownership is separate from her role as head of state and is different from other monarchies where no such claim is made – Norway, Belgium, Denmark etc.

The value of her land holding. £17,600,000,000,000 (approx).

This makes her the richest individual on earth. However, there is no way easily to value her real estate. There is no current market in the land of entire countries. At a rough estimate of $5,000 an acre, and based on the sale of Alaska to the USA by the Tsar, and of Louisiana to the USA by France, the Queen’s land holding is worth a notional $33,000,000,000,000 (Thirty three trillion dollars or about £17,600,000,000,000). Her holding is based on the laws of the countries she owns and her land title is valid in all the countries she owns. Her main holdings are Canada, the 2nd largest country on earth, with 2,467 million acres, Australia, the 7th largest country on earth with 1,900 million acres, the Papua New Guinea with114 million acres, New Zealand with 66 million acres and the UK with 60 million acres.

She is the world’s largest landowner by a significant margin. The next largest landowner is the Russian state, with an overall ownership of 4,219 million acres, and a direct ownership comparable with the Queen’s land holding of 2,447 million acres. The 3rd largest landowner is the Chinese state, which claims all of Chinese land, about 2,365 million acres. The 4th largest landowner on earth is the Federal Government of the United States, which owns about one third of the land of the USA, 760 million acres. The fifth largest landowner on earth is the King of Saudi Arabia with 553 million acres

Largest five personal landowners on EarTh
Queen Elizabeth II 6,600 million acres
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia 553 million acres
King Bhumibol of Thailand 126 million acres
King Mohammed IV of Morocco 113 million acres
Sultan Quaboos of Oman 76 million acres

 

a Landrights campaign for Britain

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