13 Days Remaining

Saturday 19th
posted by Morning Star in Britain

by Felicity Collier

POLICE forcibly evicted a woman yesterday after she staged an occupation of the south London fl at that she had until recently called home.

Activists had joined Clavia Chambers, a mother of two young children, in staging an occupation of the property in Brixton earlier in the day following her formal eviction earlier this month.

Lambeth Council claims that she owes £5,000 in rent arrears, but Ms Chambers contests the amount.

The family are sleeping on relatives’ floors while a 56-day review takes place.

After two protests on Monday, Ms Chambers was offered a single night in a hostel.

Arrears started mounting in 2013 when she took on insecure retail employment, causing her welfare benefits to fluctuate.

She told the Star that on Thursday afternoon she had been given keys to the fl at so that she could collect more of her belongings.

Activists rallied round her and a notice was put up to announce that they were occupying the property.

Two hours later, a locksmith turned up, removing the notice, and police arrived.

Local activist Diane said she had answered the door to the police because they shouted: “There’s eight of us here and we’ll break the door down.”

The officers accused them of breaking in and threatened to arrest everybody, she said.

They were told they were squatting and had to be removed.

On Tuesday, Ms Chambers’s solicitor told her that he still had not received paperwork that would shed light on the arrears.

She said: “It makes me suspicious. If I’m guilty of arrears, prove it.

“My solicitor said he doesn’t think [the council] will be giving it to us in a rush and that they’re refusing to hand it over.”

Ms Chambers said social services offered her £1,500 for temporary accommodation, but she was told that, though the sum was only half of what she would need to stay in the borough, it was all they could offer.

She would prefer to be rehoused in the fl at she had lived in for the last five years.

As the Star went to press, Ms Chambers said she had now been told by the council that keys to temporary accommodation had been waiting for her on Tuesday afternoon — but insisted that she had had “no contact whatsoever.”

She was also angry at being accused by council staff of not sleeping at the hostel. Her two-year-old son Meshach has pneumonia and suffers from other conditions and his health has worsened.