The day Camden Council vandalised its own flats to beat the squatters

BRITISH Pathé has begun uploading 80,000 archive films to YouTube, a world history lesson to get lost in online. Have a dig – in between the clips of Pele playing in the 1950s and excerpts of JFK speeches, you can find some grainy footage of Camden businessman John Mills during his time at the Town Hall.

The former Labour finance chief is seen with sideburns to envy as he is questioned about Camden Council’s decision to smash up its own block of empty flats in Hampstead to deter squatters.

In the footage, which Pathe say was ultimately never actually broadcast, he talks of the search for a balance over what to do with the empty block in Hampstead. Always frank with his opinions, he warns that some residents found it more upsetting to live next to squatters than to see the council deliberately wreck a flat to make it inhabitable.

“It was something that would never have been planned,” he insists. “It’s a very awkward choice to make.”



3 Comments on The day Camden Council vandalised its own flats to beat the squatters

  1. Keith Sedgwick // April 15, 2014 at 1:26 am //

    How prescient. Lets see what happens to the Bacton Low Rise flats in Gospel Oak, John Mills’ old ward, once their occupants have been ‘decanted’ into the flats yet to be built on the District Housing Office site.

    • Everyone knows that when the blocks become empty on the estate they will be demolished and new, high quality homes built for the remaining Bacton Low Rise tenants. Hardly similar.

      On the Pathe find by Richard interesting to note that in the 1970s London’s population was actually declining and large, now des res, chunks of the borough were empty and often being squatted. You often come across long-term residents who remember doing that in those days – some of this is captured in the local history provided by Kentish Town City Farm it’s hard to imagine….

      Obviously the council didn’t have any press officers in those days given John’s all-too-honest account with the sound of running water in the background!

  2. Rackman comes to mind, no rent controls and no council management note it was the elderly that suffered again. G

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