VIDEO Squatters demand their message hits home to Council Leader Quinn

Squatters Chris and Danny from Manchester Action Group poised with their letter to Council Leader Quinn

Squatters Chris and Danny from Manchester Action Group poised with their letter to Council Leader Quinn

 

A  group of homelessness campaigners aimed to make sure that their protest message hit home, when they targeted the leader of Tameside Council on Monday night, with a letter delivered by hand to his home.

In the letter the group called the Manchester Activists are basically imploring Cllr Kieran Quinn who is also Chair of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund to allow them to stay in a building owned by the Fund .

Manchester County Court granted Tameside Council an order of possession on Monday 14th of November which will see the group of 30 homeless squatters evicted from the building they have made their home.

The building, the Old Colony House, has been occupied by around 30, mainly young, vulnerable homeless people, following their eviction by the Co-op from its land outside New Century House.

Amongst those currently living in the former City Centre Pizza Express building off John Dalton Street in Ridgefield is a pregnant woman and two people who have autism.

The court hearing this morning, brought by Tameside Council as the lead authority for the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, was due to be heard in secret, until the judge was persuaded by an interlocutor, to open it up in the public interest.

Speaking as a friend and on behalf of the homeless people, Debbie Blanshard, of Greater Manchester Housing Action, implored the judge and the GM Pension Fund to hold off the possession order.

“These are extremely vulnerable people,” she explained “but not vulnerable enough for Manchester Council to house them.”

“One pregnant girl was told to ‘come back later’ because she was only three months pregnant and not ‘legally pregnant’, which is seven months. These people are doing the best they can but can’t get a house. The Council has done nothing.”

A Tameside Council spokesperson said: “The Greater Manchester Pension Fund – administered by Tameside Council – was granted an order for possession by Manchester County Court on Monday of the Old Colony House property.

“The fund will be liaising with appropriate agencies to obtain possession of the building so that we can find new tenants to pay pension liabilities.

“All agencies and the courts agree that the current living arrangements for the people squatting in it are not appropriate or safe, particularly as winter takes a grip. We will be working with all agencies, including the Manchester homelessness services, to support those who want to find appropriate accommodation. The possession order was granted and it is understood that the GM Pension Fund will evict the group onto the streets early next week.”

In the wake of the judgement, Chris Blaine – who is homeless – slated politicians and councillors who “cry woe in the papers… and are making us homeless.”

“It’s just another example of the two facedness of the councils that we elect to represent us as citizens,” he said. “These people are making us homeless. The Pension Fund owns an empty building that’s not being used but is very useable for us.”

The Tameside Reporter asked Mr Blaine. how he expected the fund to do its job of making money for the hard working pension contributors who had paid their contributions into the fund over the years?

Mr Blaine replied: “Those who control the Fund  are still going to sell the building, they are still going to make their millions from it, your pension pots are not going to have a hole in them, so get real, and deal with the problem.”

On Monday Mr Blaine and fellow campaigner and squatter Danny Jones  delivered a letter containing those sentiments to the home of Tameside Councillor, Kieran Quinn, who is Chair of the Pension Fund.

“The politicians have the power between them, including, Mr Quinn and Mr Burnham, to allow this building to continue to be used, in a meanwhile use,” said Danny Jones of Manchester Activist Network who is also living at the Pizza Express building.

“This is the stand for any Greater Manchester councillor or politician who wants to be on the side of the homeless,” he added.

“This is the cause. This is how they fight it, by allowing 30 homeless people to stay in one their empty buildings.”

The Greater Manchester Pension Fund has £17billion of assets and almost everyone in Greater Manchester who works in the public sector pays into it. Employees’ contributions totalled £142million last year alone.

Now Danny wants all of these public sector workers to put pressure on the GM Fund to stop the eviction of homeless people.

“Every single person who pays into the Fund is a stakeholder in this building,” he said.

“This is their building, it’s their pension. Everyone who wants to ally themselves to sympathy for our plight of homelessness and support our cause… well, this is the cause. This is where they can have an impact.”

 

Cllr Kieran Quinn

The Tameside Reporter observed the duo posting of the letter to Cllr Quinn at his home address, but understood he was not present to receive it at the time.

It is understood that Cllr Quinn has been away most of the week on Pension Fund Business and has still not been able to read the letter in order to respond to the squatter’s directly.