While there have been high profile squats in the centre of Manchester – at the Ducie Bridge pub, at the Cornerhouse and in South King Street - few people know about squatting evictions and incidents all over Greater Manchester.
Debi Blanchard of Greater Manchester Housing Action submitted a Freedom of Information request to Greater Manchester Police concerning squatting and was staggered by the response.
Between April 2014 and November 2017, there have been 850 incidents where police message texts or comments text contain the word 'Squat'. And within those 'incidents', the GMP state that 39 relate to evictions, some in the most unlikely places...
Five squat evictions on the list relate to Salford – at Chambersfield Court, Salford Quays (30/6/14 and 1/7/14); at Spring Bank in Seedley (7/11/14); at St Mary's road, Eccles (21/3/16); and at Chorley Road in Swinton (25/7/17).
Other unlikely squatting evictions took place in Droylsden, Leigh, Wigan, Trafford, Bolton, Sale and Rochdale.
"In the three years since Universal Credit rolled out to single people, I wanted to know the impact on those who now effectively have no recourse to public funds" says Debi "The answer was a squatting explosion...
"There are addresses here you would never think had a squatting problem...like Sale" she adds "Wigan is in there...everywhere in Greater Manchester. I've seen somebody has done some research on squat dwellers and in the past twelve months they estimate that, across Greater Manchester, nine hundred people took shelter in squats. It looks pretty credible to me, given the number in my FOI..."
Last week, the latest high profile squat opened on Cross Street facing Manchester Town Hall, almost as a challenge to Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham...
"This isn't about anarchy, this isn't about being an activist, this isn't about charity - this is about the right to have a home; this about belonging and having a community and support" one of the occupiers, Chris Blaine, told the Salford Star
"So we're going to show you how it's done and make loads of noise" he added "We're fed up of walking past it, we're fed up of listening to your excuses and we're fed up of your inaction..."
For the full interview with Chris on the Cross Street squat see previous Salford Star article – click here
Meanwhile, almost 1,500 people have signed a petition calling for Manchester University to provide rooms for homeless people over Christmas. The text of the petition by Spencer Kay states...
"To open the vacant spare rooms for the homeless or vulnerably housed to use over Christmas. This can be implemented by giving them a temporary lease for a month, I believe that this is important as part of the mission statement of the University was to 'tackle homelessness' in the city. We could open up the Alan Hall and parts of Owen Park, such as the top of the tower or other elements of the student accommodation that is not being used. This is essential in the coldest winter since 2010, to make sure that people don't die on the streets..."
To sign the petition – click here