For Immediate Release
Baroness supports Heathrow 3rd runway squatters facing eviction
In a court case that could set a precedent for land use in the UK, ‘Grow Heathrow’, a squatted community garden project in the Heathrow Villages, West London, has received support from Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (Lib-Dem), a member of the House of Lords. The owners of the site are seeking possession of the land which would remove the community project in the process despite the ovewhelming support the squatters have received.
As the case enters its final day today which includes John McDonnell MP appearing as a witness at Central London County Court in support of the group, Baroness Miller said:
“Grow Heathrow is about a living, sustainable, community based future. We should be enabling projects like this not closing them down. Growing food, cooking it and eating together is the glue that has held societies together – we need a lot more of it, not less.”
After two previous adjournments at the most recent hearing for possession of the land, in November 2011, a district judge sitting at Uxbridge County Court accepted that the court needed to have regard to the defendant’s right to respect for the home under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and adjourned the claim to be heard by a more senior (circuit) judge sitting at Central London County Court.
‘Grow Heathrow’ first took over the former-market garden site on Vineries Close, Sipson, in March 2010 after years of neglect which caused social problems in the area. Local residents and the Transition Heathrow group cleared up the land, removing 30 tonnes of rubbish, and set up the site as a community-hub and market garden. The project came out of protests against Heathrow’s planned 3rd runway and the site sits directly in the path of where the 3rd runway would have been built.
After months of attempted negotiations with the landowner who was previously using the site as a dumping ground and to scrap cars, Transition Heathrow along with the local residents association and the local MP have set up the framework to buy the land through a Community Land Trust which would give ownership of the site to the local community.
John Mcdonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington, who is appearing in court as a witness today said:
“Grow Heathrow have taken a derelict site that has caused local residents numerous problems and transformed it into a beautiful area, serving the whole community. I urge the owners to drop this case and let Grow Heathrow remain or failing this I appeal to the court to allow them to stay.”
A statement of support from local residents’ group Harmondsworth and Sipson Residents Association (HASRA) said:
“The people involved with this project (Grow Heathrow) have transformed the site.
In the process they have created a much-needed community hub for local people who have spent years living under threat of destruction due to proposals for a third runway at Heathrow Airport. Their tireless efforts and support have regenerated enthusiasm for community working that inspires the many people who visit.”
Grow Heathrow gardener Joe Rake said:
“After more than two years at Grow Heathrow we have turned the site into a thriving community garden. We want to continue our work with schools, youth clubs and the residents’ association, and really don’t want to see the land return to causing social problems in the area. With John McDonnell MP we are trying to buy the land for a Community Land Trust- we didn’t clear 30 tonnes of rubbish for nothing!”
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Notes to editors
Recent BBC London News coverage on the court case already: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-18460865, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-18458210
- Pictures from outside court to be credited to Jonathan Goldberg.
- More info on Article 8 on the European Convention on Human Rights can be found here:http://www.hri.org/docs/ECHR50.html#C.Art8
- Grow Heathrow recently appeared at the High Court as part of a case challenging the Metropolitan Police’s use of pre-emptive policing before the Royal Wedding last year. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/may/27/activists-arrested-challenge-police-high-court
- Grow Heathrow is run by Transition Heathrow, a Transition Town as part of the Transition Network.www.transitionheathrow.com, www.transitionheathrow.com/grow-heathrow
- Statements of support for the project can be found here: http://www.transitionheathrow.com/statements/
- Follow @transheathrow & #DefendGrowHrow on twitter for updates from court
- More information on Community Land Trusts can be found here: http://www.communitylandtrusts.org.uk/what-are-clts
- All photos can be used from our Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/47991844@N06
- A photo campaign launched as part of the campaign to resist eviction can be found here:http://www.flickr.com/photos/47991844@N06/sets/72157628011759448/
By Nathan Moore and Lucy Finchett-Maddock
For the original text, please see the European Beat Studies Network website: http://ebsn.eu/scholarship/articles/burroughs-called-the-law-nathan-moore-and-lucy-finchett-maddock/
On 25 April 2012, in a room in a Birkbeck College corridor, located within Bloomsbury, London, there came together writers, academics, thinkers and cultural critics from all over London and beyond. They were all there to hear and discuss thoughts on the late William Burroughs, and to consider his life and writings in relation to law. It was soon apparent that the academic and legal-leaning context of the workshop couldn’t contain the ideas, engagements, and discussion prompted by Burroughs’ work. Much of this was due to the variety of those attending: academics, enthusiasts, counter-informants, friends, archivists. The workshop had attracted such a broad range with the help of the visibility given to the event by the European Beat Studies Network, for which we were, and still are, very grateful.
The day began with three papers from Laurent de Sutter (Free University of Brussels), Thom Robinson (University of Sheffield), and Lucy Finchett-Maddock (University of Exeter). Laurent began with an extravagant mapping of Burroughs essays in his ‘Magic of Law: Random Remarks on William Burroughs’ Closet Jurisprudence’. With both flair and precision, Laurent extracted a jurisprudence of evolution from Burroughs’ work, encapsulating the cosmic war between the Johnsons and the Shits. At stake is the question of control, and the necessity for the Johnsons to not ‘seize’ control, but rather to allow it to exist, absorbing the Shits as simply another variety of life – obviously against the Shits self-conceptualisation of being always, and everywhere, right. Thom followed with his account of nostalgia within Burroughs’ work, having been researching Burroughs for his PhD thesis. Thom touched on the poignant centre of Burroughs’ work, tracing the connections between desperate unrequited love, loss, and memory. Lucy finished the session with a further account of the role of time within Burroughs’ work, particularly in relation to the thermodynamic property of entropy. Through the time-travelling dimension of memory, a negentropic tendency was shown to emerge, through which one could be made over, again and again, such that the loss implicit in time’s ending no longer dominated the subject. Subsequently, the role of time and space came into play as an interweaving theme within the discussions.
Following lunch (or should we say Naked Lunch), there were then two great papers and exchanges between Charlie Blake (Executive Editor, ‘Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities’; founder member, STD, ‘Semiological Terrorists of Desire’) and workshop organiser Nathan Moore (Birkbeck College, University of London). Once again accounts of time were central, along with the role that space played for Burroughs as a means of escaping the arrow of time itself, moving toward what Charlie referred to as the ‘avolutionary’, and thereby coming back to the concerns touched upon in relation to entropy. Nathan spoke of his recent work on the incompleteness of Pythagoras’ theorem, considering the ‘fold in’ technique as a mechanism of always leaving the page, the calculation, free and boundless.
Questions of law in relation to Burroughs’ work emanated from these discussions on law and time, and totality. How can we escape control, halt the endless march towards destruction, and alter the conception that there is such a thing as a closed system? Law is not a closed system, but it wishes to be. Burroughs traverses the system with his heroin addiction and his cut-up and fold-in tools. The room shifted to a discussion of the difference between Northern and Southern epistemologies, as well as what the implications for law might be considered as an informational system: what is the relationship between control and noise?.
Having mentioned cut-up and fold-in techniques, there then followed a wonderful rendition and improvisation on Burroughs’ collection ‘White Subway’ (subsequently reprinted as part of ‘The Burroughs File’). This involved the cutting up and folding in of a number of texts, cleverly and very effectively done so by poets Liz Adams and Jamie Wilkes. Both brought to light Burroughs’ techniques, those that had been in discussion all day, and allowed for a very guttural demonstration of how words being cut up and dismembered can affect a wholly alternate meaning.
Liz Adams is a poet and writer who has worked collaboratively with musicians and dancers, and is currently at work on a novel mapping London as a political tapestry. James Wilkes has worked with scientists, artists and musicians investigating topics such as brain imaging, camouflage, radio and woodland, and is the poet-in-residence at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL.
To our delight, we discovered that the original publisher of Burroughs’ ‘White Subway’ was present, Jim Pennington, who brought Burroughs in to the room proper with his accounts of the man’s habits and wants back when they worked together. As Burroughs himself stated, ‘there is no such thing as coincidence’ … . So too some other close acquaintances of Burroughs were in our company, which allowed for the mathematical dissection of his work to be touched with the nostalgia and subjectivity of meaningful personal encounters.
The day ended with a drink or two at a nearby local haunt – with an air of this not being the last time we would discuss Burroughs in light of law, in fact, with a definite atmosphere of very much wishing to reconvene.
The papers from the Burroughs workshop are being edited as part of a collection which is forthcoming. We look forward to seeing you at the next Burroughs Calls the Law event. Thank you again to Oliver Harris and Polina Mackay for introducing us to this website.