Protesters who squatted in Croydon’s infamous Brick By Brick offices to highlight the ‘urgent action’ needed to combat the borough’s housing and homelessness problem have been kicked out after more than a week.

The housing activist group Reclaim Croydon turned the premises into a protest camp, claiming they wouldn’t ‘leave nicely.’

The group unveiled banners outside the Brick By Brick ahead of the eviction date set for September 18. 

Reclaim Croydon began their occupation on September 10, with ten homeless residents from Croydon taking up residence in the old council housebuilder’s head offices.

Bill, an organiser from the group, told the Local Democracy Reporting service on September 15: “We only have a couple of very straightforward demands. We are housing ten rough sleepers local to Croydon, who have been asking for housing so many times that they just gave up hope.

“The government treats homeless people like they are kids or like they have a disability, we don’t treat homeless people like that. 

“We chose to squat in Brick by Brick as they are partly responsible for homelessness in Croydon, and so I wouldn’t even feel guilty if we didn’t leave nicely.

"So we are demanding social housing for the ten residents of the squat. Our demands seem cocky, but when you look at the reality it’s fair, and we should be asking for even more.”

Brick By Brick’s offices, housed at 62 George Street, had lain dormant for the past six months after the loss making house builder announced the remainder of its staff would move back to the council’s main offices.

Brick By Brick borrowed £200million from Croydon council over five years despite building just three council homes in that time.

The majority of its other building projects were sold privately or offered as expensive “shared homes”.

As of September 2020, the house builder had failed to repay a penny of the loan and had never turned a profit.

After incrementally scaling back its operation, Croydon council announced they would close Brick By Brick at an unspecified date in 2024.

Reclaim Croydon’s occupation is the latest response to the borough’s lamentable housing crisis.

This issue has been compounded by the controversial new restructure imposed on the borough’s Housing and Homelessness department, which, alongside charities, is responsible for housing the borough’s homeless. 

According to the GMB, who represent the department’s workers, front-line roles, including those in the homelessness services and payroll, are to be merged with redundancies expected.

This is despite official council reports showing the department already holds case-loads of up to 150 people at a time.

The department previously took strike action on the 28th and 29th of June this year to protest a restructure they say will ‘cost lives.’

Rachel Bayliss, an organiser from the GMB said: “GMB remains in dispute with Croydon Council over this ill thought out and chaotic restructure, which could put residents at risk and cost lives.

"Croydon Council is totally ignoring our members, who collectively have decades of experience working in this service.

“These current plans for the service raises severe concerns around safeguarding, provision and remaining legally compliant.

"Our members will be showing the full force of their anger at not only these plans, but also the way they’ve been treated. They feel as though they’re being set up to fail.

“Council housing workers often get the blame when things go wrong, but should this current restructure continue, any failings land squarely at the door of Croydon Council. They have been warned.”

When approached for comment, Croydon Council said: “We are continuing on our journey to restructure our housing service, to provide the most efficient service for some of our most vulnerable residents.

"We appreciate the valuable role that our staff play in delivering these services and, as part of a full, staff consultation process, the council has continued to meet and respond to staff queries and address concerns.”

“Regular 1-2-1s on workload assessments have been carried out.

"We remain in active dialogue with Croydon GMB staff and employee representatives, and no further days of strike action have been announced while we seek to resolve the issues.”