Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

News Shorts & Other Busyness

Surprise Surprised

Squall 6, Spring 1994, pg. 33.

When Howard Goodie, regional consultant for the Empty Homes Agency, got up to speak on a recent Granada TV debate, he surprised all in the studio by supporting Government plans to legislate against squatting.

In SQUALL Issue 3, Bob Lawrence at the London HQ of the Empty Homes Agency had this to say about squatting:

“The law is quite adequate already. The squatting issue is not about young people climbing into empty property through open windows, it’s about the sheer overhang of the numbers of empty properties doing nothing. Why change the law? It’s not going to make people less in need of housing..… We’ve been heartened by the behaviour of some people who have approached owners and said - ‘These buildings are empty, they’re a waste to you, they’re an eyesore to the community, would you join us in a partnership’.” (see SQUALL letters page 40.)

In fact, past issues of SQUALL have paid much respect to the Empty Homes Agency for its work in negotiating the use of empty properties. Previous conversations with workers at the agency have been met by an acknowledgement that, with 868,000 empty homes in Britain, 20,000 squatted properties are hindering no-one and helping 60,000 homeless people at the same time.

However, Mr Goodie stood up on live television to support the Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens (playing the part of ‘rabid Tory’ on the show). “Squatters have hindered the work of the Empty Homes Agency and I support the criminalisation,” he charged.

Although the assemblage were surprised that he was taking such a view, none was more surprised than Mr Goody himself when a member of the panel stood up to query him.

“Are you aware that the photographer used by the Empty Homes Agency to collate its publicity material, is herself a squatter?” asked the panelist.

“Er yes,” came the unsure reply from a reddening Mr Goodie.

“And would you like her criminalised too?”

“Yes,” he bluffed and sat down abruptly to contemplate how the hell anyone knew more about his own organisation than he did.