Tidemill Solidarity Gig: Come and Celebrate the Resistance at the Birds Nest This Sunday, Dec. 9

4.12.18

The poster for the Tidemill Solidarity gig at the Birds Nest in Deptford on Sunday December 9, 2018.Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist, commentator and activist. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.

 

It’s now five weeks since the violent eviction of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, a wonderful community space and precious environmental asset that was violently evicted by bailiffs from the brutal County Enforcement company, who were hired by Lewisham Council. To show our continued resistance to the council’s plans to destroy the garden — and to celebrate our fighting spirit and our creativity — I’ve organised a gig this Sunday (Facebook page here) at the Birds Nest, the legendary live music pub just across the road, featuring musicians who played at events in the garden, or who were involved in the occupation. 

Three prominent campaigners with the Save Reginald Save Tidemill campaign — Heather, Harriet and I — are represented by our bands Ukadelix, the Commie Faggots and the Four Fathers, and many other members of these bands were also involved in events in the garden. I remember one wonderful evening around the fire with Michelle and Angie from Ukadelix, Archie from the Commie Faggots and Richard from The Four Fathers, when, with Angie playing some wonderful basslines, we adopted ‘Love Train’ as the occupation’s anthem. Also present that night — and on many other occasions — was Flaky Jake, accordionist and troubadour, who, I hope, will also be able to make it on Sunday.

Also representing the occupation is Roll Rizz, who brought peace and love to the garden from north London, with his anarcho-tribal punk band Flak (or Flak Punks), and two singer-songwriters who have both written songs about Tidemill, which they’ll be performing — Gordon Robertson and Mark Sampson. And the evening will kick off with Brian Wilkes, visiting from Eastbourne, who played his first ever public set at a previous Tidemill benefit gig at the Birds Nest on September 16.

Also playing are two special guests, who were booked to play before the night became a Tidemill event, and who have graciously got on board with the campaign — Cavalli, anti-fascist hard rockers, and Rob Shuttz, who plays alternative, experimental music.

Meanwhile, in the political arena, Lewisham Council evidently thought the eviction would mark the end of the campaign to save the garden — and the 16 structurally sound council flats of Reginald House next door — but they were sadly mistaken. 

The struggle to save the garden and the flats has been going on for ten years, since the council first proposed it, as part of the re-development of the old Tidemill primary school, and residents of Reginald House (and two other blocks of flats in Giffin Street, initially included in the plans) began opposing it. The school finally closed in 2012, and guardians installed in the old school buildings first opened up the garden and began the campaign to save it. When the council then evicted them, local campaigners, given “meanwhile use” of the garden while the council tried to finalise their plans, continued to try to get the council to change their mind, and to re-draw their plans for the school, the garden and Reginald House, which involved — and still involve — creating around 200 units of new housing. As a result of continued resistance, the proportion of allegedly “affordable” housing was increased, but the council and its development partner, Peabody, obstinately refused to engage with the community about sparing the garden and the flats.

As a result, when the council brought the lease of the garden to an end on August 29, campaigners — myself included — occupied it instead of handing it back, and gained widespread support from the many local people who had used it and loved it over the years — either in the 14 years after its creation in 1998 as a visionary garden for the school, or in its subsequent six years in community hands, as a retreat, or for gardening, or for cultural events. Ironically, after September 2017, when the council finally approved its plans for the re-development of the site with Peabody, more and more people were drawn to the garden, with all manner of events taking place, so that by the time of the occupation the council had no idea of what a powerful autonomous community space it had become.

I’m not sure we’ve even begun to tell all these stories yet, largely because those with stories to tell have largely been traumatised by the eviction and its aftermath, with the garden for the last six weeks guarded by bailiffs, fenced off as though it’s some kind of dangerous animal, and with the ever-present fear that the destruction of the trees will begin at any time (although when tree-fellers were sent in, they soon withdrew from their contract, stating, ”Artemis Tree Services have heard the voices of the Lewisham people and have decided to remove ourselves from the Tidemill project.”

For Lewisham Council, the Tidemill project has turned into a disaster. They have spectacularly failed to win hearts and minds via the insanely expensive, violent and alienating eviction and the subsequent presence of bailiffs 24 hours a day (with, to date, £1m spent on guarding the old school for the last two years, and over £1m spent on the eviction and the last six weeks of guarding the garden from the local community), they obviously have no idea how to recruit another tree services company to cut down the trees (who are prepared to ignore Artemis’ principled refusal to engage in such a toxic project), and they are also mired in controversy regarding the dismissal of CEO Ian Thomas, who was appointed just six months ago, and whose dismissal looks like the result of chronic insecurity on the part of the Mayor, Damien Egan, or racism for the coterie of white men who run the council, or because Thomas had exposed shady goings-on in a council that has a poor record on transparency, and is currently looking suspicious regarding its plans for the re-development of Catford town centre.

So the struggle continues — on many fronts — and I hope to see you on Sunday to celebrate the continued resistance!

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (click on the following for Amazon in the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from six years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of a new documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June 2017 that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London. For two months, from August to October 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Although the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, the resistance continues.

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, The Complete Guantánamo Files, the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

13 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, a shout out for the Tidemill solidarity gig this Sunday at the legendary Bird’s Nest music pub in Deptford, featuring a packed evening of musicians who played in the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden or were part of its occupation in September and October, prior to its violent eviction five weeks ago. I’m hoping it will be celebration of our spirit, as well as a fundraiser for the Save Reginald Save Tidemill campaign, still fighting to save the garden and the 16 structurally sound council flats of Reginald House next door from their unacceptable proposed destruction by Lewisham Council and Peabody.
    Appearing on the night: Ukadelix, The Four Fathers, the Commie Faggots, Flaky Jake, Roll Rizz and his band Flak (aka Flak Punks), singer-songwriters Gordon Robertson and Mark Sampson playing songs they’ve written about Tidemill, singer-songwriter Brian Wilkes visiting from Eastbourne, and two special guests – anti-fascist hard rockers Cavalli, and experimental musicians Rob Shuttz. Phew! Quite a line-up! Don’t miss it! See you there!

  2. Damo says...

    Yoohoo keep up the good work give that council a good kick in the balls dxx

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Damo. That’s the plan!

  4. Damo says...

    If you want to see something truly nauseating not just nauseating but vile there’s a picture of Iain Duncan Smith starting at a food Bank collection point holding a miserable little bag of sugar… Can you believe it, talk about spitting in people’s faces.. This is the man responsible for throwing millions into poverty and destitution… Every tory I’ve ever met has not only been vile they’ve been completely self deluded

  5. Damo says...

    If he came near any of the food banks near here he wouldn’t make it out alive

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    I despise Iain Duncan Smith, Damo. Have done ever since he first crawled out of the slime. Hard to believe it’s seven years since he first proposed Universal Credit, and I wrote this about him: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2010/11/12/the-cruelty-and-stupidity-of-the-governments-welfare-reforms/
    As I noted, drawing on a profile in the Telegraph by Mary Riddell, Iain Duncan Smith “believes that dysfunctional lives are the root cause of poverty, while the centre Left thinks, correctly, that the reverse is true.” I’ve never forgotten that, and never forgiven him. He epitomises the full-scale revival of the notion of the “deserving” and “underserving” poor, which, of course, has hurled us ideologically back to the worst days of Victorian Britain.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I hope the same would be true in Lewisham, Damo – although a weird thing happened a few days ago. There’s a long-established cafe in Lewisham called Maggie’s, and for some reason Channel 4 News filmed Jacob Rees-Mogg and Alastair Campbell there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=garkqN9PZ-U
    Here’s the New Statesman on the tendency of Tories to visit food banks including IDS – scum, the lot of them! https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/welfare/2018/12/when-tory-mps-visit-foodbanks

  8. Damo says...

    The tories it seems are becoming more deranged by the day Priti Patel has slithered back to government she’s saying withhold food to the irish to persuade them on their brexit backstop. Can you believe this?

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, it seems there are no depths to which the Tories won’t sink, Damo.
    As one commentator, Fiona Kenny, wrote on Twitter, “In Ireland we don’t refer to it as the ‘potato famine’. The Famine was a result not only of potato blight but also because an imperialist landlord class & govt. chose to let people die. Fast forward to 2018 & we’ve Priti Patel suggesting food blockades against Ireland. Classy.”
    See: https://twitter.com/FionaKenny1/status/1070990454794129408

  10. Damo says...

    Andy it’s about time the tories were removed from power physically dragged from power if necessary

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    I genuinely find it difficult to understand how they’re not the least popular government in living memory, Damo, and yet the polls consistently show them either ahead or just a few percentage points behind Labour.

  12. Damo says...

    People these days Andy are easily bamboozled and distracted the tories are masters of division look into my eyes look into my eyes

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    I think it’s difficult to overestimate how much the mainstream media helps them in that task, Damo, with all the reality pap distractions on TV, the empty celebrity culture, the biased broadcast media news and of course the still-powerful tabloids. People are trapped in a weird dreamworld, and they don’t even realise they’re trapped.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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