Protestors gathered outside the UK’s biggest property trade show today to campaign against the sell-off of social housing in the capital.
About 100 protesters from all over London and even some from Spain rallied at the inaugural MIPIM UK conference which started today at Olympia, and is normally held in Cannes, France.
There were chants of ‘homes for people not for profit’ and ‘social housing not social cleansing', as around 4,000 property developers, architects, investors, agents and local government representatives queued up to make their way into the conference centre.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson gave the opening speech at 10am but protesters hoping to catch a glimpse of the mayor, who much of their vitriol was directed at, were disappointed when he chose not to enter through the main door.
Several local politicians were seen entering but Labour’s Steve Cowan, was on the other side of the fence as he spoke to campaigners outside about the need for social housing. He later went inside to make his point to developers that homes must be affordable for local people.
Making up a sizeable proportion of the protesters were campaigners from the Save Our Hospitals and Save Earls Court groups.
The Save Earls Court campaigners were accusing Mayor of London Boris Johnson of social cleansing in a week where they discovered plans to demolish the famous exhibition centre will definitely go ahead .
However Mr Cowan has said he is trying to re-negotiate to save the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates which are to be demolished.
Capco, the developer behind the Earls Court development, also owns Olympia and is a platinum sponsor of MIPIM UK where participant tickets for the three-day event started at £495.
Anabela Hardwick, from the Save Earls Court campaign, said: “We’re protesting on behalf of Earls Court and Hammersmith and Fulham residents because London is being taken over by overseas investors while Londoners are being pushed out. This is going to spread to other UK cities as well.”
The Save Our Hospitals campaigners were backing the protest after it was announced in June 55 per cent of Charing Cross Hospital will be sold , 45 per cent of St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington and the entire Western Eye Hospital to raise a projected £270 million from private developers.
Julia Arady, from the campaign, said: “They’re property market is selling off land left, right and centre, some of which is public land and that is what’s happening with Charing Cross Hospital where it’s most likely half the site will be sold to private developers and we’ll have no A&E in the borough after they closed Hammersmith Hospital’s A&E last month .”
Talking to protesters outside Olympia, Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter, said: "We've got to rid of that flob in City Hall, we've got to get rid of Boris Johnson, the developer's friend."
Protesters reported a MIPIM UK participant punched a campaigner this morning and police confirmed there was one arrest for common assault.