Social cleansing: London housing activists face eviction

Housing activists from the Sweets Way estate in North London, who have been protesting against the demolition of 142 homes, faced the MoD in court this morning.

The group Sweets Way Resists have been occupying a property on the estate for the last five months to highlight the sell-off of houses which are due to be replaced by over 200 new houses and flats, just 59 of which are expected to be "affordable".

The houses on the estate used to be owned by the MoD but were sold to the private developer Annington Homes. A strip of houses were then leased back to the MoD, one of which is the property now being occupied.

But the MoD has just been granted a possession order which will allow them to remove the protesters.

The families who once called Sweets Way their home were evicted months ago. But among the rows of now empty properties, the occupied house has been reclaimed and used as a hub for former residents and campaigners.

"This is somewhere where the community can come together for support. We cook meals for the families and it has become a focal point for the campaign," a member of the group told from outside the court this morning.

"We knew the odds were against us today, private property law trumps just about everything else. Now the possession order has been granted we will be expecting the bailiffs to turn up imminently so we are heading straight back to the house to peacefully and collectively defend it as we have tried to do with the others," he added.

The campaign has received support from other London housing campaigns and has received a lot of press coverage due to the various events that have taken place at the estate to highlight the protest, such as a mass sleepover which was attended by Russell Brand.

The housing situation in the capital has been descrbed by many as the 'social-cleansing' of London and similar protests have been held around the city in the last year.

Just one family now remains in their home on the Sweets Way estate and campaigners say they have become barricaded inside as they attempt to resist eviction. The group say regardless of today's verdict in court, they will continue to fight to highlight the case of this family and the many like them who have been turfed out of their homes.

The MoD today defended the evictions.

"This property was leased, at public expense, to provide accomodation for Service personnel and their families," a spokesperson said.

"The people occupying the property are not Service personnel, and so have no right to be there."