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OCSET's latest proposal to the landlord

societelibre | 26.04.2004 10:38 | Culture | Free Spaces | Oxford

The landlord recently sent a letter to OCSET, the new social centre in Oxford, to go to Court this Thursday for a possible eviction. Instead, OCSET has been trying to reach agreement with the landlord. Here's OCSET's proposal. Already more than a hundred people from the local community signed the proposal in support of OCSET, and the local green counsillors are also very supportive (who could be against it?). However the landlord hasn't replied to our proposal yet.

Basically, what we propose is to use the space *while it is empty*. We know that the next person renting the space won't get in before the end of June. We thus only ask to use the space until the end of June, since no one will be using it during that time, which seems to be a very sensible thing to ask.

But why is it a good thing, not only for the local community who can greatly benefit from this new free and open social centre, but also for the landlord himself?

First, since we are creating a social centre, we are not thrashing the place. We are actually maintaining his building, what he would have to do anyway and would have to spend time or pay for that. And we pay our bills, so we are actually maintaining his empty building for free while creating a useful, needed, popular and very interesting social and cultural space on Cowley Road.

Second, by reaching agreement with us the landlord will save money since he won't have to pay for court and eviction procedures etc. And we are happy to make this agreement more "formal" or "legal" if he wants to, which means that it would have exactly the same legal weight as a court eviction order, but for lower costs.

Third, if he decides to evict us soon, the building will be empty for a while, and the probablities that it will be squatted again are quite high (as it is a nice building), and not necessarily by people who want to maitain the building to create a lively social centre... This would mean more Court and eviction costs for the landlord, and possibly additional costs for repairing the building...

Who could be against this proposal to be honest? This new open and free social centre has already been very succesful in its first weeks (only have a look at the number of posts about it and events announced in the calendar on, very lively, used by all sorts of people, all ages, for cultural and "green" activities, meetings, political/activist info and resource point, community cafes and free food, computer meeting and office space, etc.

Who would seriously prefer seing an empty building than a useful resource, free, open, where they can get involved, when it's moreover in the interests of *everyone*, including the landlord?