I live in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham. It is a district of striking contrasts, green and leafy with many public parks and some of the grandest houses anywhere in England. These are where the business men, judges and high-fliers live. It also has a very large Asian and West Indian population and these tend to live in concil housing, like myself. It’s a hot issue in the city at the moment.
This is a camp that has been set up on unoccupied land where council housing used to stand. The "squatters" are occupying the land illegally. Like most British cities Birmingham has a shortage of decent, affordable homes in the public sector and this land could be sold to a housing association to develop for just that purpose. However the councillor responsible for housing in the city, John Lines, is refusing, prefering to sell to a potential commercial bidder who will charge higher rents. With 30, 0000 people on the housing waiting list, this is disappointing news. The campsite has been named after the councillor, an obnoxious right winger who has a criminal record for assault and prides himself on his "hard man" image. Shame on the people who voted him into office.
The squatters are moving their base to an as yet undisclosed site somewhere else in the city. They are due to be featured on BBC's "Newsnight" program this Thursday evening, November 11. They are all currently homeless or vulnerably housed. More power to their elbow. I thank them for letting me photograph them and wish them all the best.