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Smash School Privatisation: The Wembley Tent City Eviction

Wembley Tent City Occupation | 22.07.2008 16:00 | Education | Free Spaces | Social Struggles | London

Friday 18 July 2008: At 6.30am council bailiffs arrived with ten police officers at Wembley Sports Ground on Bridge Road to evict Brent NUT and ATL Secretary Hank Roberts. He was locked by the neck to the sports hall rooftop flagpole. Below is the press release and a video used with kind permission of freelance video and print journalist Jason Parkinson. EVICTED WITH PRIDE - The campaign continues.

Those of us who were at the Wembley Park Sports Ground on Friday 18th July 2008 not only watched, but were part of, a new height in resistance to the city academy programme. Brent Council decided to have the early morning eviction of Hank Roberts at 6.30 am not only to deter supporters and press (that didn't work) but also because the traffic chaos in the already overcrowded roads would have made them even more unpopular.

The occupiers have received first hand information that “Hank’s protest has caused Council Officers considerable angst and concern. They do not like the negative publicity that is being generated. They are also frustrated that Hank’s protest is also delaying their scheme”. What they do not understand that this is not Hank Roberts’ protest, but a protest by the overwhelmingly population against having any school on the sports ground.

Despite the early hour, supporters and film people turned up at the sports ground well before the 6.30 am deadline. All the occupiers had been served with an eviction notice and required to leave the premises by 6.00 pm on Tuesday. Hank Roberts had spent his third night on the roof of the building in the new roof ‘Tent City’ as he had refused to comply. The main flagpole flew a new flag ‘No academy. Save our sports ground’ with pride. Hank Roberts had bolted himself onto the pole with a bicycle D lock, which was round his neck.

When the bailiffs arrived they were not pleased to see the gathering crowd. People continued to arrive and so the police were called. The gates were shut but still the supporters found their way in. Finally the police swept the site turning everyone onto the streets except the council park service workers who had been ordered to attend. They were getting overtime and they also had grandstand views. Even one of the car workers who lived on the site was sent out, though somehow a film crew and two reporters had made it up onto the roof.

A ‘cherry picker’ was used by the bailiffs to reach the roof. An unsuccessful attempt was made to cut the lock with bolt croppers so, with Hank Roberts hooded in blue fire proof material, an angle grinder finally cut through the lock. All this was supervised by the fire brigade. After they had brought him to the ground Hank Roberts was surprised that he was not arrested but released to address the applauding crowd.

He said, “This is a sign of their weakness and our strength. I am really proud of all of you. We have to make a stand in this country for what is right. Taking sports grounds when we need them is completely and utterly wrong. Building privately managed academy schools paid for by tax payers’ money is also wrong. I believe that we can win. ARK are intending to ponce off us to get their own way in education at almost no cost. We have to defeat that.”

Later that morning Wembley Park Action Group did not succeed to get their challenge in the High Court despite a clearly illegal action by Brent in their planning permission process. The judge did not understand the planning law and also seemed to think that Brent had made proper provision in case the permanent school was not given permission. The judge said that they had made a case for the need for a school otherwise 60 children would have nowhere to go due to shortage of places, but he also said that two years later the three hundred children at the temporary school who would need a place if the permanent academy did not get planning permission, that it would be possible to find places for those children in the local schools! Either there is a need for places or there isn’t.

WPAG are looking at an appeal as well as the other possible legal challenges and the campaign will continue.

For more details contact Hank on 0776 2737 306 or Jean on 0784 3282 450

Eviction Day video used courtesy of freelance video and print journalist Jason N. Parkinson. (C) Jason N. Parkinson, All Rights Reserved.



Indymedia coverage.

Feature Page: Teachers Occupation Defends Wembley Sports Ground From Privatisation

Original Court Hearing at Willesden County Court on Tuesday 15th July 2008:

ITV London Tonight Report:

Guardian Coverage

Other coverage

Wembley Teachers Say No To Privatised Academy Schooling

200 School Pupils In Huts On A Construction Site

Smash School Privatisation: Wembley Teachers Call For Direct Action

The Boil on Busson's Butt

Smash School Privatisation: Call To Action On All Sides

Right To The Ways And Rules Of Academisation

Smash School Privatisation: Eviction Resistors

Smash School Privatisation: The Hank Roberts Interview

Smash School Privatisation: The Wembley Tent City Eviction

Save Our Schools 22-minute film available on Reel News issue 13
Stop them Privatising Our Schools available on Reel News issue 12
Wembley Occupation available on Reel News issue 10

Wembley Tent City Occupation
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