“They Have The Power And We Don’t Have Anything”

Article @ Morning Star, published 10 March 2015

Battered victims of London’s social cleansing sought comfort yesterday among campaigners occupying 60 Sweets Way in north London.

Esmaa Guernaoui and her son Abdou stopped by the occupied house on the housing estate their family was kicked out of three weeks earlier to make way for luxury flats.

Crying unconsolably, Ms Guernaoui told the Star how her husband, who suffers from a heart condition, ended up in hospital due to the stress of being moved around by Barnet Council.

Her daughter Kauthar — who has fervently campaign against the eviction — is in need of counselling.

The family had lived in Sweets Way for five years when they received the eviction notice, with the council offering places outside London that had to be refused so Ms Guernaoui’s teenage children could continue their GCSEs.

They were left in the dark about where they could move to until emergency accommodation was found in Ponders End — four bus rides away from their local community.

“They put us under too much pressure, too much pressure,” said Ms Guernaoui, showing the array of medication she carried around with her for stress-related ailments.

The whole family has suffered from headaches, heartburn and stomach pains, fever, insomnia and constant anxiety.

“But they don’t care,” she said.

“They have the power, to be honest, and we don’t have anything.”

Sweets Way has been earmarked for “regeneration” after being sold by the Ministry of Defence to Britain’s largest property developer Annington Homes.

Annington plans to flatten most of the estate, building 288 new homes, of which only 33 will be “affordable” — costing 80 per cent of exorbitant local rents.

Sweets Way resident Rejane Barbosa accused the council of “neglecting” its tenants.

“How can they do this without having any other local housing available for these families, how can they do this to do the community?

“How does Barnet Homes justify demolishing 150 perfectly good family homes, while leaving the community who have been living there for more than five years with nowhere to go?

“They’re uprooting people and rehousing them many miles away — far from Barnet.

“Our community has come together and supported one another through this awful period, while Barnet Homes has utterly neglected to find decent affordable homes in the area.”

Activists from Barnet Housing Action Group, Radical Housing Network, Unite Community and Focus E15 Mothers took over 60 Sweets Way on Saturday night

Occupiers have set up a community centre in the occupation hoping to highlight the plight of evicted families.

Estate security attempted to break into the house yesterday morning but left after being held back by campaigners and local residents.

Police called to the scene admitted they could do nothing until a court order was served to the occupiers.