Over the past few weeks Lenton Flats residents and Autonomous Nottingham have organised a couple of meetings in order for the residents to come together to share their grievances, anger and frustration at the behaviour of Nottingham City Homes, Nottingham City Council and the plans to demolish Lenton Flats. See here for more detailshttps://network23.org/autonomousnottingham/2012/03/22/demolishing-lenton-flats/
These meetings have been disrupted by NCH, the council and other organisations who are funded by the council.
At the first meeting organised around 30 people attended, the main theme was that of confusion and frustration. As the residents expressed their concerns it drew light on the piss poor way in which NCH have communicated with the residents, apparently dropping the occasional letter threw the mail box telling you you’re going to get evicted, your home demolish and yes, we’ll be in touch soon to help find you a new house, is a reasonable way for NCH to treat its tenants. We’d decided at the start of the meeting not to impose our position on the meeting. A resident had got in touch with us, and asked us to help arrange the meetings, but we’re not residents and whilst we’ll show solidarity with the residents we didn’t feel it was our place to be guiding the fight. Unfortunately one local charity/community worker, funded in part by City Homes decided it was her role. She admitted to receiving a call from the council asking her to attend the meeting, and it was clear that she saw her role as eviction mediator. Framing her opinion as objective and omnipotent she constantly invalidated any residents attempts at discussing resistance, individualised each persons situation by offering help finding suitable accommodation to a select few and repeating NCH’s corporate lines over and over again. Despite this many residents continued to express their anger at the way they are being treated, and most were steadfast that everything the council or NCH tell them is a lie.
- If the eviction goes ahead hardly any of the residents will be able to stay in Lenton, instead a community will be dispersed across the city.
- There isn’t enough social housing in the city to accommodate those who currently need it, so their is zero chance of their being enough for the 500 household currently living in lenton flats.
- If the flats are demolished the current residents know that the land will sold off and within a few years new student accommodation will take it’s place.
A week after that meeting another was held, this one was attended by 20 or so people, including handful of the same residents who came to the previous meeting, two from Autonomous Notts, and then bizarrely 2 NCH workers, the local area manager, and another council representaive. Fortunately we’d been tipped off about council presence, and also decided that we’d made a mistake in allowing the previous meeting to be unstructured. We’d been asked to help create a forum for residents to talk about fighting back against NCH’s plans, and in silencing ourselves we’d allowed someone to hijack the meeting from the residents. So, we explained at the beginning that this was a meeting for residents to talk and for non-residents to listen. The first half of the meeting went in this direction with residents discussing the variety of ways they’re connected to the flats and the area in general, as well as their distrust in the explanations given to them by Nottingham city homes and the council. There was also wider concern and anger at the ways in which they have constantly been treated by goverment bodies, both local and national, and looking ahead at other ways they’re about to be screwed over. NCH representatives interrupted in order to recite the line that management has drilled into them, and they in turn were occasionally taken to task by different residents who saw through their bull shit. At a couple of points during the NCH blahdeblah we lost our tempers and ranted back at them. At the time we thought this was a fuck up, but after the meeting it turned out to be the smartest thing we could have done. Once we’d made clear in no uncertain terms what we thought of NCH and the council, the residents in private were even more vocal about what they thought about the entire situation. The meeting ended slowly with things coming to a collective impasse, of the residents either resigned to being treated the way that city council always treat their residents, and others seething and disbelieving and with a willingness to fight on.
Autonomous Notts would like to thank the current residents for their general awesomeness in the face of oppression, and we will continue to show solidarity to all those who want it. More meetings will happen and we won’t let city homes or the council anywhere near them. Ironically nearly all residents told us that they now new more about the eviction process and they now knew more about the rehousing plans then they did after the meetings city homes had put organised. Make of that what you will.