In February there was a serious problem for residents in Ravenscourt Gardens after squatters invaded the Ravenscourt Park Hospital site. There was an incident later this year with squatters in the Bradmore Centre in Bradmore Park Road.
An early incident in a family centre in Shepherds Bush involved lengthy delay and council resources on legal fees to obtain an eviction. In fact there have been various instances of squatting across the borough including in Sands End.
At the Hammersmith and Fulham Council meeting on Wednesday evening the Conservative Group put forward the following motion:
1. Notes recent difficulties over squatters in the borough on non-residential and public land.
2. Welcomes the fact that squatting has been made a criminal offence on residential land and buildings.
3. Calls on the Government to extend the law to make it a criminal offence on non-residential and local authority land as well and thus avoid the delay involved in civil proceedings during which time the police are unable to act.”
I had hoped the Labour councillors would support these changes. But it turned out they were in Corbynista mode.
Of course genuine housing needs must be met but squatting is not the answer. Indeed it is often more of a political statement – with middle-class youths, who could probably afford to pay for their own housing, seeking the radical chic of an “alternative” lifestyle as their protest against capitalism.
So instead the Labour councillors pushed through a “wrecking” amendment which even opposed the existing law of squatting being a criminal offence in residential property.
By voting to placate left wing activists in their own Party these Labour councillors made clear they are not on the side of residents.