Anti-cuts campaigners occupying the disused Deptford jobcentre have successfully defended an attempt by bailiffs to evict them.
Activists from a group called the Social Centre Plus (SCP) occupied the building on March 12, as a protest against the government’s budget cuts.
Supporters of the occupation gathered to resist the eviction. Approximately 30 people congregated outside the site, near Deptford Bridge, while a further group assembled inside the building and on the rooftop.
The crowd outside chanted “bailiffs go home!” and formed a human chain to prevent access to the building as the evictors approached.
Ruby, a special needs teacher and Lewisham resident for 8 years, came to defend the centre because she opposes cuts to public services: “I support the centre because it’s an example of our community coming together and resisting the government’s cuts. I’m particularly concerned about the closure of libraries and centres for elderly people, as well as the threat to higher education and plans to scrap the EMA. And the NHS, of course. That’s a big one,” she said.
Bailiffs were unable to gain access inside and after only five minutes they left the site.
Nasser Khan, a member of SCP, said: “What’s important now is that we all work together to use the space as an effective space to counter the brutal cuts being implemented both by the Tories and Lib Dems in Westminster and the Labourites running Lewisham Council.”
The building is currently used as a space for protestors to organise against local cuts and has hosted a variety of events over the course of the last month, including meetings, discussions and children’s days.
On March 30, Victory Land, the owners of the site on Deptford High Street, won an injunction allowing for those in occupation to be forcefully evicted, a move which was strongly condemned and resisted by campaigners.
In recent days the activists occupying the building have called on people to demonstrate against the proposed eviction in an attempt to defend the occupation from bailiffs.
One activist speaking on a condition of anonymity said that vigilance needed to be maintained: “The police and bailiffs have backed off, sure. They’ve said we won’t be charged with an offence today but they’re probably just hoping we let our guard down and all go home. They told the UK Uncut crowd they wouldn’t be in trouble if they left peacefully, but then they arrested everyone.”
By Peter Ellender and James Laird