Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Occupy London camp to be evicted from Mile End Park

Tower Hamlets Council has finally served a notice to evict the "Occupy" camp from Mile End Park.  The Council is due to go to Court today to seek a possession order to evict the campers.

A Camp representative told the Evening Standard yesterday that the group had not yet decided whether to contest the legal action.

The Occupy Mile End Park group
- in a very soggy Mile End Park

(Team USA Training HQ is just behind the trees!)

Around about 20 people set up the so-called "Occupy London" camp in Mile End Park following the eviction from the area outside St Paul's Cathedral on February 28th.  Since then the Occupy group have tried - and failed - to set up camps in iconic landmark places in other parts of London.  (Does this mean Mile End Park is now an icon?  See Campers in Mile End Park - right next to Team USA? below)
We're not very sure what exactly our local public park has to do with the overthrow of capitalism and getting back at the bankers.  The bankers have nothing whatsoever to do with our park.

Mile End Park is, in fact, a highly valued local green space for children and families who live locally in a borough which delivers way below the planning standards for the areas of green space required relative to the population.

The camp has also begun to look very much like a bunch of homeless people who were rather glad of "a banner headline" under which they could camp together - and sit around doing not very much - and nobody would do anything.

April has been very wet and the camp has endured long weeks of very soggy weather.

Smash Global Injustice, Steal Wood and Sit about a Lot
Small wonder that they went looking for firewood in the Tower Hamlets Cemetary Park.  However it would appear that of late they have now taken to damaging trees in the park in an attempt to generate firewood.  Plus pillaging wood which had been prepared for classes with children to show them woodcraft skills.

The Evening Standard quotes the Cemetary Park Manager as follows
Ken Greenway, a Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park manager, said: “We asked them to stop and they agreed, but they didn’t stick to their word.

"They’ve been pillaging with no thought for the habitats and the wildlife, the schoolchildren who come here to learn about nature or the ordinary people who want to come and enjoy one of the borough’s few public green spaces.

"We caught them tearing down young sycamore trees and their justification was that they’re a non-native British species so they’re weeds. When we explained to them that most of Britain’s trees are non-native they got aggressive and confrontational.”

Anti-capitalist Occupy London camp accused of wrecking nature reserve
Evening Standard - ‎May 8, 2012‎
At any rate, it would appear that the Council FINALLY served a Notice of Eviction yesterday (8th May) and today the Council is seeking a Possession Order to reclaim our green space and parkland.
Complaints have been made to police by Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, who run London’s biggest urban nature reserve, that trees have been damaged.

Tower Hamlets council is now taking court action to have the campsite closed down......

The council promises, if successful, to move quickly to enforce the order to get the occupied parkland back.

But it has come in for criticism from Opposition leader Joshua Peck, who said: “The police and council should have acted much quicker. The camp has caused a lot of disturbance and damage—it’s outrageous that it’s been left so long.”

East London Advertiser - Occupy London camp served court order by Tower Hamlets to shut down
[UPDATE #1: The Council has secured a possession order.  The campers are to vacate the park by the weekend.  If they've not gone by Monday they will be evicted by a High Court Sheriff.

East London Advertiser reports Mayor Lutfur Rahman as saying
“We will now move quickly to reclaim the land with the support of the courts.  I support the principles of the Occupy movement, but feel they have done their movement a disservice by occupying a park where kids play football and senior citizens walk their dogs.” 
The use of Mile End Park by the campers has been in conflict with its regular use by local residents since Day 1 of the occupation in Tower Hamlets - so the question remains, why has it taken the Council so long to take the appropriate action.  There's also no response to the other question we posed at the end of this post - see below.] 

Campers in Mile End Park - right next to Team USA?

Could it be that the camp was there because Team USA are coming to Mile End?  

The point which ALL the newspapers appear to have missed (they forgot to talk to MERA!) is that the location of the camp is right next to Mile End Stadium and Leisure Centre - where Team USA is due to train in a few weeks time!

What we're now very puzzled about is what's going to happen if other people turn up and try to camp in Mile End Park between now and when Team USA arrive in Mile End to train for the Olympics.

For example, if it happens again, will it again take the Council more than five weeks to move on happy campers who set up camp right next to the USA Olympic Team who will be training in Mile End accompanied by their 500 FBI guards?

"No way!" we hear you say - and we think you're very probably right - action is very likely to be a lot more swift!

 (Note that it took the City of London a few hours to move on an Occupy Camp which set up in Paternoster Square on May 1st)

So why exactly has it taken so long to serve the notice this time?  Why have trees been ripped down BEFORE the Council acted?

Can any homeless person camp in the park at any time if they put up a notice saying they're a protest group?  We're sure a lot of people would like to protest about being homeless as well as about what the bankers did!

Councillors and Council staff should feel free to add their comments below..........

Here are links to all the papers which carried the story and a related story re Occupy and Tower Hamlets:

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