Squatters reject deal with property firm over occupied London office
Posted on Oct 04,2016
By Source : theguardian.com
Squatters reject deal with property firm over occupied London office
 
Squatters occupying the former headquarters of a property management company that works to keep squatters out of empty buildings say they have rejected the offer of a deal to end their protest.

The group moved into the former head office of Camelot Europe in Shoreditch, east London, a week ago to highlight housing inequality. The company provides property guardians who look after empty buildings, generally at lower rents. The squatters say property guardians do not get a good deal from companies such as Camelot and do not have full tenancy rights. The activists say they also want to shine a light on Britain’s homelessness crisis.

Frank Freeman, one of the squatters, said at the time: “We are doing this on behalf of dispossessed, homeless people and guardians who are being exploited. We hope to run art workshops, yoga classes and exhibitions. London is built on culture, but artists and creative people can no longer afford to live here. It is becoming a sterile and unaffordable place.”

Camelot’s chief operating officer, Mike Goldsmith, offered the squatters a deal: leave the occupied building in return for permission to use it as an arts and culture space. However, on Monday the squatters did not attend a meeting with Camelot bosses to discuss the offer, and said they had rejected it.
Why the occupation of this empty building highlights the housing crisis

Freeman, 29, said: “The occupation continues and we will resist any attempts by Camelot to remove us. Hundreds of activists have come down to the building to support us and our new neighbours have been very supportive too.

“What Camelot didn’t make clear when the deal was first offered was that we had to agree to a number of restrictions. The first would have been to remove any displays about the issues of homelessness and property guardianship – the reasons for occupying this office in the first place. We want to see sustainable solutions to the housing crisis, such as use of 3D printers to build houses made of hemp.”

Goldsmith said Camelot would continue to help promote the arts and culture across London, irrespective of the squatters’ decision. He added: “Guardian companies are often portrayed as being exploitative, but Camelot has a dedicated team who want to continue to provide a cost-effective solution as an alternative to rocketing housing costs. Camelot abide by all legal requirements for notice periods and endeavour to keep the cost of guardian living well below the market rental rate.”

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