ABSTRACT

The squatting question, dormant in Britain since the 1940s, revived in 1969.1 Two episodes restored it to the political agenda. In February the London Squatters Campaign occupied four houses in Ilford, in Redbridge in north-east London, installing homeless families in two of them. The houses had been compulsorily purchased by the borough council to be demolished under proposals for a civic centre. They remained empty, though, while the scheme awaited government approval; their emptiness was provocative to housing campaigners because they were habitable houses. A public authority, in a city with a severe housing shortage, was deliberately keeping serviceable property empty for-quite possibly-several years. “‘How can they do this’, one squatters’ leader asked, ‘when there are so many families without a home?’ ”2 A five-month conflict with Redbridge Council followed.3