Typical Hampstead Studio Flat only £1500 per month inc Loo.
I recently received an email from someone, who shall remain nameless, scare-mongering about Hampstead Police Station being squatted and how "residents are worrying about a rise in crime".
Firstly, were the police station still a police station this wouldn't have happened. If you ask me, it was criminal of the MET/MOPAC to close it down.
Secondly, these squatters are clearly not criminals - they are merely a bit homeless and anyone fearing a rise in crime is probably reading too much into Daily Mail fear-mongering. Having seen the picture in the Ham & High, they look like a pretty innocent bunch to me.
Until recently, squatting was not a criminal offence and to my mind - whilst properties stand empty for months and months - I say good luck to anyone who needs a temporary roof over their head in a climate where a poxy studio flat costs a ridiculous £1,300 p/m or more
Maybe MOPAC ought to have kicked a little arse rather than let the building stand empty for so long to 'realise the full potential of their assets'. They are the police, not property developers and have been caught with their pants down.
Moreover, was there more affordable housing in Hampstead (and London in general) - as there was in the 60s, 70s and early 80s, those on low incomes wouldn't have to resort to squatting. But Camden's sold off much of its council housing so where are people meant to sleep?
The manner in which Hampstead's buildings have become pawns on a property developers' Monopoly board (and that includes MOPAC or any other property owner who leaves a building standing empty for months) combined with Britain's dismantling of its public infrastructure (ie. police stations/nurses homes/housing etc) will result in more of this sort of thing happening. It's inevitable. We've entered another Thatcher era.
There is a solution - Government needs to take responsibility for the current polarisation between rich and poor. Rising house prices might be good for owners, but for those on low incomes it means ridiculously unattainable rents, never mind getting a mortgage. Don't be surprised that those on low or no wages take action if the Government does not up its game.
Raising people's wages and/or lowering rents to an attainable level is the only way to prevent this sort of 'alternative action'. It's a national problem and whilst 10% of the population owns 90% of the wealth - or whatever it is (1% owns 99%?), this ain't going away. But again, as far as I can see, these squatters aren't even vaguely criminals.
Toodle Pip and Viva Hampstonia, Land of the not so free!
Emmanuel Mustafa Goldstein III.