Archive for April, 2009
West Midlands Police categorically denied in their press statement that police officers were deployed with riot shields, at the Beechwood Hotel eviction. The pictures and video on this site clearly show a police officer with a riot shield strapped to his arm. Also shown is a police line, presumably to prevent squatters from re-entering the building.
This is a blatant abuse of police powers: the Criminal Law Act, codes of conduct for police officers and bailiffs quite clearly state that a police officer’s role in civil evictions is purely and only to prevent a breach of the peace. They are not there to provide security to the building, they are not there to aggravate the sitaution in an intimidating manner, ie. walking around with riot shields, and they are certainly not there to “support” bailiffs.
Several witnesses clearly indicate that police officers were intimidating, formed a line across the car park to prevent re-entry to the building, were abusive to squatters inside the building, and, in the case of one girl, barged her down the stairs with a riot shield. In addition, witnesses state the police officers were walking around inside the hotel with truncheons drawn. That is not the behaviour of a body of people whose only function is to prevent a breach of the peace.
A letter of complaint has now been sent to the Chief Constable of the West Midlands Police, the Chair of the Police committee, and the Police Complaints Authority.
Our solicitors are currently considering legal action against the West Midlands Police force.
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West Midlands Police have issued a statement with regard their involvement in the eviction at the Beechwood Hotel our response is as follows :
We have never stated that WMP forced entry into the building this was done by the bailiffs smashing through the rear fire escape doors.
Officers did enter the building to assist bailiffs with the eviction, they were present in bedrooms and we have video footage of Officers demanding people leave the building and or rooms.
WMP have stated that officers did not use riot Shields, we can confirm that the long full length shield were not used but officers were in possession of round riot shields we have at least one officer photographed with this type of shield, in addition Police Officers were walking around the building with batons drawn.
Police officers only role in this type of proceeding is to prevent a breach of the peace, no resistance whatsoever was given by any occupant. The occupants realised they were outnumbered and out flanked very quickly and left the building without any aggression or resistance. WMP stated they were there in a “Support Capacity” to the bailiffs” THIS IS NOT PART OF THEIR ROLE.
WMP stated they did not remove any person from the property – This is not the caset. They did order people out of the hotel and did push at least 1 person and barge a second with a shield.
If there only function was to prevent a breach of the peace why was there a need for so many officers, why was there a need for them to enter the building, why were officers equipped with shields and why did they form a line across the car park. Bailiffs are the only ones empowered to remove persons and they are normally supported by security staff who will prevent persons re-entering the building.
Following legal advise JNC will make a formal complaint to the Police Authority of abuse of power and abusive and threatening behaviour, together with an assault on one of the occupants. JNC will be taking further legal acton this week.
We would emphasise that not all police officers acted in this way and the local officers who had visited us many times during our occupation were courteous and efficient in their duties. In particular the duty Sgt kindly negotiated for occupants to re-enter the building to allow them to collect personal belongings.
We would like to sincerely thank Birmingham City Council’s Housing Department (Northfield Neighbourhood Office) for their assistance in rehousing 6 of our homeless people.
Staff there arranged taxis to the Northfield office where they assessed the needs of each individual, including getting a benefit adviser to help with housing benefit etc. They also made two visits to our squat on Pershore Road to complete forms and help as much as they could.
Two were housed immediately in the Etap Hotel in Lee Bank a further 2 were housed in the Ibis Hotel, City Centre and offers of accomodation have been made to two more.
We have been somewhat critical of the Housing Department in recent months but never of the dedication oif its staff and officers. We will forward this post to Cllr Lines with our sincere thanks and a request to look at some of the others who suffer similar problems.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The Beechwood Hotel was stormed at 6:30am this morning by bailiffs and riot police, immediately prior to smashing the rear doors bailiffs had climbed onto the roof to prevent demonstrators occupying the space. Police dogs handlers entered the building as a line of Police prevented people re-entering the building.
Details are vague at present but it is apparent the police officers with riot shields had occupied the building prior to the bailiffs formally evicting the occupants.
One girl was pushed down the stairs by a police officer who barged his riot shield against her. Further reports of police officers kicking bedroom doors open are also being told.
A full update will appear on this site later today. JNC are currently speaking to legal advisers to ascertain whether the police action will be subject to a complaint. Our understanding is that the police officers are there to prevent a breach of the peace.
It appears that this was not their role today but as assistant bailiffs. The Inspector in charge of the operation would not even let people collect food from within the hotel, they did however allow personal items to be collected (Our thanks to Sgt Richards)
An officer from Birmingham City Councils homeless team arrived soon after and offered to get taxis for the homeless. They were taken from the scene to Northfield neighbourhood office to be assessed. The homeless officer was extremely helpful but didn’t give much hope when he said “BCC only use 4 hostels and they are all full” The Beechwood hotel was formally one of the buildings BCC referred homeless people to.
The Neighbourhood Office team have visited all of our homeless people and facilitated taxi transfers to Northfield for assesments. We are confident that our 4 most vulnerable people will be assisted including a 16 yr old girl who had lived with us at the Beechwood for just over a week. It is true to say that the Birmingham City Council Officers from Northfield have gone over and above the call of duty and we are extremeley grateful to them for their assistance.
We continue to hold 318 Pershore Road.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
DOUBLE EVICTION VICTORY puts the Beechwood on high alert for the return of Bailiffs.
After this somewhat unexpected double victory the occupiers, while jubilant, remain on high eviction alert and request all supporters to come down to help defend the building from further attacks. It is a beautiful building and grounds and well worth keeping open. Meanwhile, the occupiers continue their request to negotiate some civil arrangement with the legal owners so that the work can continue.
We can provide you with a room if you wish to stay for a night or two we are determined that the work on the conservation area will continue as the clean up gathers pace.
Mr Kang the Beechwood’s owner still will not speak to us about the possibility of renting the site.
We are able to accommodate upwards of 200 people in the building and welcome any support even if only for an hours. We are continuing to strengthen the building and grounds against an attack from the bailiffs and will PEACEFULLY resist all attempts to remove us. There is a large garden at the rear and anyone wishing to come and camp there will be more than welcome.
If anyone is able to help please come down or contact us :- details on our contacts page.
We really don’t wish to have to go to such lengths as we feel we are being forced to, all we are asking is for :
WCCC to talk to local residents and groups ( As requested by the planning committee) and listen to them work with us all to get an acceptable deal.
1 Reconsider the size of the development
2 Talk to all groups and residents involved or affected by the scheme
3 Lease 318 on the same basis as you do for the other properties so it can house people until ready to be demolished for your plans.
4 Extend the lease on 316 Pershore Road to allow the residents to remain there
5 Halt the compulsory purchase proposals until at least there is planning permission for your scheme.
Mr Kang to talk to JNC, local residents, the Martineau Gardens,Local Councillors and Priory Club to resolve the issues of concern. In particular to allow us to continue to clean up and restore the conservation area.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Warwickshire Cricket Club Houses Pershore Road :- Bailiffs and the Police turned up at 0900 hrs and took possession of 310,312 and 314 Pershore Road where we did not resist the eviction. At 318 Pershore Road the occupants resisted the bailiffs and staged a rooftop protest.
The bailiffs, using Cricket Club contractors, smashed the front door open and removed all but 1 occupant, who was the protester on the roof. The bailiff was recorded as saying that the roof protester could ” Stay there all day as it didn’t matter, he was outside”
Our response was that the fact that a person was on the roof and occupying the land was not sufficient to have taken possession on behalf of the Cricket Club. The bailiffs ignored us and left after 20 minutes. They returned later and spent a considerable time trying to get the protester down without success. They eventually left without taking possession of the building, which is still under our control and is occupied.
BEECHWOOD HOTEL :- The bailiffs arrived at 11am accompanied by several police Officers and the Hotel owner Mr Kang. There were 8 people on
the hotel roof and many more inside. The Bailiffs asked us to leave and we refused. A locksmith attended and left after a short time.
The Police sat in their vehicle talking to Mr Kang and Bailiffs for 90 minutes and left without any explanation. We still occupy the hotel and will now continue to clean up the Conservation area at the rear.
This is a major victory for homeless people, residents and land conservation and we are obviously delighted with the result. We are also concerned that despite our requests we have had no communication with either WCCC or Mr Kang regarding our wish to rent the property and manage them properly paying rent to the respective owners. We will continue to attempt negotiations and hope to resolve the matter without causing the owners any more costs in instructing bailiffs.
We would like to thank all our supporters who stood with us today and the many hundreds of emails and calls of support. We would also like to thank West Midlands Police for their efficient courteous and fair handling of their operation. There were no incidents and no arrests made.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
At 0900 hours on Tuesday 21st April 2009 bailiffs will attempt to evict members of Justice Not Crisis from 310, 312, 314 and 318 Pershore Road, followed immediately after at 11AM, an attempted eviction at the Beechwood Hotel, Bristol Road.
We intend to resist evictions at all five properties and will stage a roof-top demonstration at the Beechwood Hotel. We require as much support and assistance as possible, and a briefing will take place at the Beechwood Hotel at 0800 hours on Tuesday 21st April. Press and media have already indicated they will be attending the Beechwood to cover our resistance of the bailiffs’ eviction.
Anyone wishing to join us this evening/night for our barbecue and drink is welcome. Rooms will be available for anybody wishing to stay. Further information can be obtained on 07874180014
Updates to the days events will appear on our website throughout the day Tuesday 21st April.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Come down to the Beechwood Hotel tonight from six o’clock onwards for a barbecue and a drink. It’s a nice day, and for those of you who still haven’t come down to see the fantastic garden here it would be the perfect opportunity! Bring a bottle. There are plenty of rooms if you would like to stay the night.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
JNC appeared before the High Court today and lost it’s attempt to retain the Beechwood Hotel.
The action was defended on the basis that the former manager had said we could stay until his Management Agreement expired in May 2009.
The court heard evidence from Mohinder Kang of Manorcoast Limited , the owner of the hotel, that they had served notice on him to quit the property and end the management agreement in February 2009. Mr Kang stated that the manager Tom Ryan owed more than £11,000 in fees to Manorcoast.
The Judge would not allow JNC to give evidence about the way the grounds have been destroyed over the years, he did allow on numerous occasions Kang to state that it was the manager who was responsible for the damage. This was despite the fact the damage had commenced years before the manager was appointed and the fact that Kang had admitted the illegal felling of trees and was substantially fined.
JNC had offered to rent the property from the owners who have so far ignored our attempts to negotiate with them.
The Judge gave forthwith possession of the property and ordered the 7 defendants (6 of which are homeless) to pay more than £11,0000 costs.
This is a substantial setback in our attempt to restore the conservation area at the rear of the hotel upon which work has already started.
We will continue to attempt negotiations with Manorcoast to rent, with a view to purchase, the property to ensure that the conservation work continues whilst considering or options on this verdict……
We would like to thank our many supporters who have continued to give us the encouragement to forward or cause.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
Warwickshire Cricket Club have now put a call out for supporters and members of the club to contact members of the Council’s Planning Committee to indicate their support.
They are either refusing to listen or missing the point :- Justice Not Crisis and many if not all of the local residents who objected to their redevelopment proposals support the Cricket Club and their desire to see test match cricket played at Edgbaston.
What we do not support is the erecting of permanent floodlights, even Lords don’t have them, and the highly intensified development which comes with the ground improvements. 254 houses and two hotels with the shops and cafe bars which are part of the scheme are just not necessary.
We would ask our readers who are objectors to the scheme as it stands to follow the correct procedure and notify us by email of your objection, we will pass all objections on to the Planning department as it is not permitted to make contact with an individual Councillor who serves on the planning committee personally over a planning matter – This is a quasi-judicial process and Warwickshire CCC are not following the correct protocol.
WCCC we still are willing to speak to you and act as a mediator to the other groups and residents to ensure you get a redevelopment which we support and that concerns of local residents are addressed.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
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