Communique from Bute Dock Hotel squatters, Cardiff

by Bute Dock Squatters
on Friday 23 Nov 2012

type: Press Release
topic: Community
region: South Wales

We take this opportunity to clarify our position regarding the occupation of the Bute Dock Hotel, which saw two days of successfully resisting eviction in Cardiff, see report here.

Our choice to squat the Bute Dock Hotel, which inter-connects with the largest estate agents in Cardiff, Keylet, was no coincidence – it was carefully chosen. After receiving advice regarding the unique nature of the legal situation, we carefully schemed a plan. This involved confronting Keylet with news of our occupation on the morning of Tuesday 20th November, with delegates from our welcoming committee.

Our intention was to disrupt their business, due to the inconvenience and embarrassment of having their executive offices connected to a squatted social project. To discover they had been storing their ‘personal belongings’ in the hotel was to us, an added bonus. They had a wealth of chairs, storage units, marketing literature, as well as a Christmas tree and popcorn makers we promptly made use of. We had unintentionally taken their tat hostage, and it felt empowering. While people are routinely evicted from their homes and experience difficulty in retrieving their belongings, to have the chairman of the Association of Letting and Management Agents pleading with us to respect and return his belongings was all too ironic.

To give context to who we are dealing with, the executive director of Keylet, Peter Vidler, is a director in twelve different letting and investment companies, including; Cardiff Bay Investment Ltd, Cardiff Property Lettings Ltd and Luxury Lets Ltd. In 2004, he was successfully prosecuted for trying to bully an employee into having an abortion, financially considering her pregnancy as a worst nightmare. She suffered verbal abuse and was repeatedly blamed for computer problems, causing her to contemplate ‘ending it all’, while Mr Vidler attempted to justify his actions publicly.

As a collective fighting against austerity, we feel it should be obvious as to why we targeted an estate agents. They are infamous for keeping buildings empty for their own financial gain, while people are living on the streets, unable to access secure housing. With ever increasing homelessness and the recent criminalisation of squatting residential properties, these property racketeers deserve more than ever to be held accountable, along with the state and their hired thugs. Furthermore, what followed after delivering the news of our occupation is a perfect example of the violence utilized to uphold and reinforce the value of property over people. Hiring heavies and gangs to protect property is second nature to these scumbags.

To elaborate, we wish to re-iterate what the Gremlins expressed in their video communiqué last month:

“The State’s ‘solutions’ to the problem of homelessness are degrading, dehumanising and nothing more than a quick fix. The process is riddled with long waiting lists, poor living standards and often only worsens people's well being. Countless buildings are left disused and unoccupied, whilst landlords and speculators profit at the expense of the people. The idea that it is a criminal offense to claim a roof over your head on a cold night is offensive and ridiculous.”

Our initial aims were to reclaim this unoccupied space to re-open it for the use of the community, by opening a squatter’s estate agents ‘freelet’, hosting regular café nights, films, talks, discussions, workshops, and much more. It’s naturally disappointing papers have been served for a court date within a week, but also not unexpected. Instead we are using this opportunity to host a few events, express our solidarity with those we identify with and deserve our support, and to call for further  resistance.

Strength and solidarity to anarchist prisoner Kostas Gournas, currently being tried for his participation in the armed group Revolutionary Struggle in Greece, and those accused in the same case. Our thoughts are also with Nikos Maziotis and Pola Roupa who remain at large – stay free comrades!

Solidarity and strength with all those fighting for their lives - from austerity riots in Europe, uprisings in the Middle East, insurrections in Latin America, to clashes everywhere in between.

To all the Bristol rebels plotting their next move, Brighton squatters fighting for homes, and London crew, whatever you’re up to…let’s go on the offensive already??