Saturday, 12 September 2015

Runnymede evictions

On Thursday 10th September Runnymede lost its legal right to exist. The eco-village has housed hundreds of people over three years since the land was occupied by forty people who walked out of London and set up home on historical land, adjacent to a National Trust site.

The village is off-grid and the houses, which range from octagonal log cabins, hazel benders and yurts to the village longhouse made of wattle and daube, were created using recycled and natural materials, as well as building techniques and forestry knowledge which are fast being forgotten.

Six days after the appeal, bailiffs took advantage of adverse weather conditions to move in and destroy the village. At about 6am, amid torrential rain, bailiffs began to tear down houses with chain saws and sledge hammers. There were eight arrests in total, as villagers tried to remain in their homes or gain access to their possessions.

Since then some of the displaced eco-villagers have occupied an adult learning centre to draw attention to the issue of empty buildings in nearby Staines. The building dates from 1911 and was empty for eight years previously. The Four Seasons activists who currently live in the building have been touched by the level of support for their action from locals. They aim to carefully re-open the building to the community - as some parts are damaged - with an exhibition, gallery and performance space. Rumour has it that Ali G wants to help save the community centre in Staines, so ...

The future of the significant site on which the eco-village was built seems doomed to be littered with houses worth £5-10 million each, as developers, Royalton deem the land 'exclusive' enough for their business. Needless to say, public access will not be encouraged and the knowledge of forest-living will be further threatened.

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