Home | 10th May 1996 | Issue 73Beer Money




Landlords Guinness Try To Call Time On 'The Land Is Ours' Squatters

"No one else is going to rebuild our broken cities, our broken communities and broken society... we must do it for ourselves." Extract from 'The Land is Ours' leaflet.

Within a week of The Land is Ours occupying a 13 acre former distillery site in Wandsworth that has been lying derelict for six years the owners, scumbag multinational Guinness PLC, have served a summons for repossession of the land. Guinness want to sell the land to Safeways so they can build a supermarket and 110 yuppie flats. Guinness told SchNEWS they hoped to make "many millions - we can't tell you the exact figure" from selling the property. They expressed astonishment at the idea of being driven by any motive other than maximising their profits - "we have sympathy with the ideas of the occupiers (sweet, eh?) but we have to protect our interest as the owner of the site. We can't let people just march in and do what these people are doing. We have to look after the interest of our shareholders".

Once again, positive ideas about using land in useful, sustainable ways have come up against the insatiable need of big business to make more and more money by destroying the planet. Once again we learn that good ideas and even examples of positive land use are not enough - if we are to stop our planet being turned into a desert of motorways and megastores we will need to fight big business, politicians, bailiffs and police every inch of the way.

In less than a week a few hundred squatters have shown how it is possible to use derelict city land in a way that is of real benefit to communities. "By building a sustainable village with gardens, farms and community projects we can make development work for us - not against us. We can turn the whole place into a public amenity with low-impact, low-cost housing. We can create a break from urban bleakness and decay". The current occupation coincides with the 50th anniversary of another attempt at reclaiming our land - the biggest squatting movement in British history, when thousands of ex-servicemen and their families took over old army camps and empty luxury hotels in London.

The occupation seems to have touched a chord in a lot of local people fed up with the way the area they live in is treated. "We've been getting increased local support for what we're doing. Local schools, councillors, council workers, trade unionists - everyone seems to want to get involved. Some locals even want to move onto site." As local Green Party activist Shane Collins put it, "We are not protesters, we are providers. We want to show that there are other ways - and our message is getting through".

There is not universal local support for the occupation of course - Tory controlled Wandsworth council are not at all happy. "We condemn the illegal occupation of land at Gargoyle Wharf. The site is in a riverside employment area with scope for a range of employment uses, including business, industry and leisure." Remember this comes from the same penny-pinching council that shut down the Elm Park City Farm 18 months with the site still lying empty and that, like the rest of London, finds it impossible to house homeless people while it helps build drive-in McDonalds and the motorways to get you there.

The land issue highlights in the starkest way possible what direct action movements in Britain and throughout the world are fighting for - a society based on meeting real human need instead of making profits for a small elite. Today, around 75% of Britain is owned by a mere 1% of its people. In Scotland just 600 people own half the country. Most people in Britain - and throughout the world - have no access to the ownership of land and no real say in how their communities are shaped and run. And when people demand that land be saved from destructive 'developments' or that empty properties be used (what mad extremism!) to house homeless families they come up against the law, the police, the bailiffs and all the other servants of big business. It's okay for Whatley Quarry to double in size, devouring more of the Mendip Hills and threatening the local water supply - including the source of the Bath Spa - but a small community of people living in benders on their own land near Glastonbury and growing their own food are given an eviction notice because its apparently 'a blot on the landscape'. From Newbury to open cast monsters in Wales, From Criminal Justice Act defiance to the squatters' estate agents - if you take action against wasteful use of land you get it in the neck.

The Wandsworth occupation has once again put the issue of land on the political agenda. More people are seeing the possibilities available when they take back control of their lives and start doing things for themselves. But will the landed classes ever really give up their land, power and privileges without a fight? Look at the destruction at Newbury - when the full weight of the state came crashing down on people getting in the way of big business profits.

It's our deeds, not words; our strength of numbers in action; our voices that shout 'enough is enough' that will make the earth-destroying operations grind to a halt. Throughout the world millions of people are fighting life and death struggles against transnational companies like Guinness who are destroying their communities and land "in the interest of their shareholders". From Brazil to East Timor, from Nigeria to Thailand, their struggles are often met with brutal repression, torture and assassinations. Their struggles are an inspiration to those of us in Britain fighting for sensible land use and a society based on people not profit, co-operation not competition. The Land is Ours occupation shows how land could be used better. But let's not expect the tiny elite that owns the land to give it up without a fight - and let's be ready to defend the land we have reclaimed when they come to build their supermarkets.

The Land is Ours are in court at 10.15am on Wednesday 15th May in the High Court in the Strand. Get along and tell Guinness what you think of them! (Land Is Ours 01865 722016; 111 Magdalen Road, Oxford, OX4 1RQ; e-mail: eartharc@gn.apc.org)

* Earth First! Summer Gathering 12-18th June, North Wales. Whether you're a hardened eco-nutter or new and still sane, there'll be plenty to learn (over 100 training workshops & discussions) and lots of new folks to meet. No sound-systems or dogs, thank you! 0171 249 9114 or SAE to EF! Gathering flier, PO Box 7, Cardiff, CF2 4XX.


Those power crazed maniacs Celtic Energy have put in an application for the Nant Helen site in South Wales to be doubled in size to 600 acres and for the excavation to be even deeper than at present. The proposed hole in the Welsh countryside would then be visible from space. Preparations are being made to set up a camp on the threatened land. Apparently Celtic Energy are quite heavily in debt and so a bit a good campaign there could well push them over the edge financially.

*On the 14th May speakers from Papua New Guinea & the Philippines are coming to Britain to highlight the effect of open cast on their indigenous lands.

* Reclaim the Valleys 27-29 May. Hit Celtic Energy's where it hurts - their pockets. More information ring 01639 842363, 01792 649071 or (mobile) 0385 711136



Anti-nuke activists and local residents in northern Germany have been ripping up railway track, blocking roads, toppling power masts and clashing with the cops - in order to stop a convoy of radioactive waste.

On Wednesday riot cops used truncheons, tear gas and water cannons to clear a crowd of over 3,000 demonstrators sitting in the path of the truck carrying the first of about 110 shipments of reprocessed waste due to be transported from France to Germany over the next 8 years. At least 10 cops and 20 protesters were injured and 28 demonstrators arrested. The convoy of over 60 vehicles took 6 hours to travel the 10 miles from Dannenberg train station to Gorleben where the flask of waste will be stored.

This was the culmination of nearly a week of huge protests. On Wednesday 1st May a railway power mast was destroyed - the latest in a series of sabotage attacks and bomb threats against the railways who transport the nuclear waste. On Saturday nearly 4,000 demonstrated and police turned fire hoses on people attacking police cars trying to free their comrades. 23 people were arrested. Sunday night - about 3,000 police and border guards fought hundreds of protestors near the Gorleben storage plant. Monday 6th - protestors clash with cops and attempt to dismantle railway track. Court re-imposes ban on demonstrations around the depot.

Germany has no reprocessing facilities of its own and sends spent fuel rods from Wuergessen nuclear power plant to the world's biggest nuclear reprocessing site at La Hague in France. The first convoy last year provoked mass protest and more shipments are already in preparation in Wuergessen. The Castor flask containing the highly active waste has weak points and if there was an accident there is no one in Germany licensed to repair it. If there was an accident no protection of the population could be guaranteed. And all this two weeks after the tenth anniversary of Chernobyl.


"Wrap up, wrap up, skin up, skin up!" Hemp action coming your way. May 17th is Sow The Seed Day - a celebration of the herb-of-a-thousand-uses. The Green Party Drugs Policy and Action group will be climbing Parliament Hill around 11am to free the seed into the locality. Of course, it is illegal to grow cannabis hemp without a Home Office licence - and you are advised to apply for a Home Office licence before even considering such a dangerous and obviously illegal activity...

A spokesperson for the group said, "It is not our intention to encourage the unregulated growing of cannabis in unusual and unexpected places. We certainly do not support any attempt to make cannabis growing so widespread that its prohibition becomes increasingly futile. We do not find the idea of cannabis plants secretly growing in police stations and court house grounds hysterically funny." Neither do we, sir, neither do we. Contact 'em on 0171 737 0100.

* Remember Michael Marlow, the Gloucester musician banged up for a year for producing a grow-yer-own cannabis manual? (See SchNEWS 66) He needs your letters of support. Write to Micheal Marlow MK2057, HMP Blakenhurst, Hewell Lane, Redditch, WORCS B97 6QS. Never written to a prisoner before? Remember these simple things: Don't expect a reply - prisoners are restricted as to the amount of letters they can write. All letters to prisoners are read, be careful what you say. Don't go overboard, 2 sides of A4 is OK, as some prisons restrict the amount of letters received. Always put an address on, otherwise they probably won't get through. Writing to prisoners really helps to alleviate the isolation, so get scribbling.

* Another plug for the brilliant Cannabis Museum at the House of Hemp, 1st Floor, 31-39 Redchurch Street, London. Get down there and see the multitude of uses for the weed - apart from the obvious!

* CHIC really need more bods with commitment and humour to help out at their London office. Call 0171 613 5166.

* Global Warning are organising a Hemp Festival in the New Forest on 21st September. Contact them on 01722 331942

* Cannabis Awareness Day on 14th September. More details on 0171 613 5166


MOVE activists have begun a civil trial against the city of Philadelphia, the chief of police and the head fire-fighter.

Move are an American Black radical ecological movement whose main aim is to 'stop man's systems poisoning the air, the water, the soil and to put an end to the enslavement of life.' Active in the States since the 70's, they did not meet with authority approval. In fact, on 13 May 1985, a Pennsylvania state police helicopter hovered over their headquarters and dropped a green canvas bag containing a bomb onto their roof. The ensuing explosion killed eleven of the 13 occupants, including 5 kids. In the trial, the mayor described how he watched fire-fighters let the blaze grow to destroy 61 houses, leaving 250 people homeless. The only adult survivor of the massacre, Ramona Africa, is also fighting to free another 9 MOVE members, including Mumia Abu Jamal - incarcerated on Death Row for a crime he did not commit.

* Remember the Massacre by joining the picket of the US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London on Mon 13th May 12-2pm

* Write to Friends of MOVE for a copy of their prisoners list at PO Box 3069, London SW9 8LU


The trials of the Whatley Quarry 60 - people nicked for aggravated trespass in December at an Earth First! action that shut down the super-quarry for three days - ended yesterday in triumph, with the last seven people arrested being found not guilty. One defendant got off by claiming he was too pissed to understand police instructions to leave! Police shouts on the day to leave the area were also drowned out by chanting protestors singing 'Hanson, Hanson, Fuck Your Hole' - which a gleeful protester then sang to the judge!

These verdicts pave the way for people who pleaded their innocence but were found guilty to appeal. But - be quick. If this applies to you, you must apply within 21 days of your sentence. 01749 880426


Brighton's Newest Info Shop opens midday on 13th May at 72 Trafalgar Street. Info on squatting, direct action and alternative culture. Free tea and cake!


11th May The Land Is Ours Occupation, Wandsworth, London - early evening.
15th May Reading Rising Sun, 30 Silver Street - 6:45pm
17th May Oxford Bloomin' Arts Centre - 8:00pm
19th May Cambridge Theatre of the Absurd, The Boat Race - 5:00pm
21st May Big Issue Offices, Clerkenwell Rd, Farringdon, London - 8:00pm
27th May Maidstone Green Fayre, Kent - all day
28th May Keynes JCR Uni, Canterbury - 7:00pm


Nice one to Martin and the Kebele community Centre in Bristol for helping out our SchLIVE crew in a big way. You served us above and beyond the call of duty on the 1st leg of the tour!


Mon 13th Sarah Saunton is in court in Oxford to appeal against the life sentence she is currently serving for the murder of her violent husband

*** Wed 15 - 19th - Teknival free festie in Northern France 0181 959 7525

*** Wed 15th - International Climate Action Day 0131 557 6997

*** Wed 15th - SHELL AGM 01865 721224 if you want shares

*** Fri 17th - Ledbury Hunt Ball' s 150th Anniversary Demo, 7pm at Eastnor Castle nr. Ledbury, Worcestershire 0121 643 2445

*** Sat 18 - 25th - National Vegetarian Week 0161 928 0793

*** Sat 18th - The Great Brighton Water Fight, 12 noon on the Level. Info from Courthouse Bookshop (bottom of Edward St)

***Sat 18th -Devonshire Green Festival in Sheffield 0114 2534548

*** Sat 18th - Pagan Federation Great Northern Conference Newcastle-upon-Tyne 12/2.50. Details BM 7097, London, WC1N 3XX

*** Sat 18th - Reclaim The Streets in Norwich

*** Sat 18th -Mind,Body & Spirit Festival, Greycoat St., London 0171 938 3788

*** Sat 18-19th -Letham Free Festival nr. Brechin, Scotland 01436 820901

*** Sat 18-19th - London-Dover march against live animal exports 0115 958 5666

*** Sun 19th - Bernard Matthews apparently invites you to a vegan picnic on his lawn! 11 am onwards Great Witchingham A1067 Midway between Fakenham and Norwich

*** Mon 20-30th - Actions + workshops to celebrate 2nd anniversary of Menwith Hill US SpyBase Peace Camp 01943 468593

*** Fri 24-26th African drumming weekend in the Coltswolds 01452 812983

*** Fri 24-2nd June Hackney Anarchy Week - a celebration of subversion in East London. Info: BM Active, London, WC1N 3XX


In light of Tuesday's ten minute motion in the House of Commons recommending the reduction of the number of MP's to 500, SchNEWS would like to suggest a further initiative, which would reduce hot air emissions over central London, reduce the egO-ZONE levels that hang heavy over the land, and begin the cull of those suffering from Mad Politician Disease: Reduce the number of MP's to zero. Simple. Close your eyes and make a wish folks, you never know! Meanwhile, in the sprawling metropolis, some MP's have been voluntarily declaring their business interests. (notable exception: arms dealer David Mellor) Graham Bright, 'member' for Luton, and scurge of ravers everywhere (he introduced the Bill outlawing illegal pay parties), has disclosed involvement in Mother Nature Plc. Is there something we should know about this? Is this the ultimate in privatisation's? Does her share price improve with every action that occurs? Ring Mr. Bright on 01582 29511 and ask him!


The SchNEWS warns all readers not to attend any illegal gatherings or take part in any criminal activities. Always stay within the law. In fact please just sit in, watch TV and go on endless Xmas shopping sprees filling your home and lives with endless consumer crap. you will then feel content. Honest.

Subscribe! Keep SchNEWS free! Just send 1st class stamps (eg 20 for 20 issues) or donations (payable to Justice?) Mark 'Original' if you plan to copy: SchNEWS c/o on-the-fiddle PO Box 2600 Brighton East Sussex BN2 2DX. SchNEWS is free to prisoners tel/fax: (01273) 685913. email: justice@intermedia.co.uk e-SchNEWS: http://www.cbuzz.co.uk

Next Justice? Meeting : Wednesday May 15th @ Brighton Unemployed Centre, off Carlton Hill behind Amex

Kev - glitch in the clutch? Keep on rollin', darlin'!


SchNEWS, PO Box 2600, Brighton, BN2 0EF, England
Phone: +44 (0)1273 685913
email: schnews@brighton.co.uk

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