London Social Forum: Divided City

Open Forum on speculation, housing, land and social rights

On Sunday 1st October, Limehouse Town Hall – in the shadow of Canary Wharf – will be host to an event called “Divided City Open Forum” on the effect of financial speculation in the City of London on housing and the community’s right to live.

Through short presentations and a series of workshops, the necessities of residence, democratic deficit and resistance to global corporate finance and evictions will feature heavily, with guests from as far away as Chile and Egypt (Cairo Housing and Land Rights Network). There will also be a session on the impact of the 2012 Olympics on London and the effect of development in the Lea Valley. Workshops include ‘Networking on Housing Rights [and privatisation]’, and ‘A Right to Land’ with campaigners from the travelling community and the Land is Ours land rights campaign.

The final session of the Open Forum will examine solutions to corporate domination and community struggles, including the Local Communities Bill, systems of democratic audit, and the broader context. In terms of the latter, we will explore the concept of democracy and relate the effectiveness of constructing alternative methodologies of accountability within an economic system where human and material exchanges are grounded in enclosures, as in the privatisation of public utilities such as water and health/education/transport systems. We will refer to the underlying neoliberal agenda, which deepens and intensifies the market economy and breeds both prosperity and exclusion, in both urban and rural contexts.

The conference is free to all, but participants will be asked for a donation to help cover costs.

Campaigners are mooting plans for a demonstration at an unspecified location in London on Monday October 2nd, as part of an international day of action on housing and land rights, on what will be World Habitat Day 2006.

Sunday October 1, 2006, 12.30pm-6 pm Limehouse Town Hall, 646 Commercial Road, London E14 7HA

Organised by the London Social Forum

The main session will be the “LONDON CAMPAIGN ROUNDUP – COMMUNITIES IN RESISTANCE” with speakers from the Broadway Market campaign, the campaign to save Queens Market in Newham, people from the Dale farm travellers community, and activists from Dalston. This session will be chaired by Dave Morris from HSG. Start time, around around 4.30.

The Programme:

12.30: Session 1:

Doreen Massey (Open University): London as Financial Hub

Ana Sugranyes (Habitat International Coalition): Social Impacts on Habitat

Sebastian Mueller (Dortmund University): Impacts of privatisation and speculation

Fred Harrison (Land Research Trust): The Property Bubble

+ time for open discussion

14.00 Session 2: Privatisation, Development and Large-Scale Speculation.

Chris Shirley Smith (Independent Water Consultant): Thames Water

Martin Slavin (Journalist): Impact of 2012 Olympics on London

Knut Unger: European global investments

+ time for open discussion

14.45 Workshops

– The Lea Valley, impact of the Olympics, Gentrification and Displacement

– Networking on Housing Rights and Finance

15.45 Workshops

– London Effect on Property Markets

– A Right to Land, with Dale Farm travellers, Grattan Puxon from the Roma Federation, Maggie Smith (Romany Gypsy Council tbc) and Simon Fairlie (The Land is Ours/Chapter-7)

16.45 Open Forum (including):

– Introduction to Urban Watch and Mapping (Citymine(d), NodeL), L-Atlas, Cartograhy of Resistance, Violation Database and Real Estate Corporate Watch.

– London Campaign Roundup

– The Democratic Deficit, including speakers on:

Democratic Audit (Manchester Open City), Sustainable Communities Bill (Steve Shaw), Inclusive dialogue on rural inhabitants, farmers and public lands and Perspectives from the South (Angie Balata) and the North (Simon Fairlie)

18.30 Summing Up and Close

Films and food at Ramparts in the evening.

The Open Forum is free to all, but participants will be asked for a donation to help cover costs. Food and refreshments will be provided, including Zapatista coffee.


Trains: DLR Limehouse or Westferry; c2c from Barking, West Ham and

Fenchurch Street.

Tube: Mile End (Central, Metropolitan, District lines) and then a 277, D6, or D7 bus; or, Aldgate (Circle, Metropolitan) or Aldgate East (Metropolitan, District) and then a 15, or 115 bus.

Buses: 15, 115 (from Paddington station, Aldgate tube, East Ham); 395 (from Surrey Quays tube), D3 (Isle of Dogs, Bethnal Green); 277 (from Highbury and Islington tube via Dalston Junction, Mare Street and Mile End tube), D6 (from Mare Street via Bethnal Green and Mile End tube), D7 (Mile End tube and Poplar).