Action Alert: Act now to stop the destruction of Soho

Don’t Rip the Heart out of Soho!
Stop the raids, stop the evictions.
Stop the Walkers Court development. 

Please take action now:  

  1. Before Tuesday 10 December, object to the Walkers Court development to Planning Committee chair Robert Davis rdavis@westminster.gov.uk.
  2. Join us at the planning committee meeting, Tues 10 December 6.30pm at City Hall, 17th floor, 64 Victoria Street, SW1E 6PQ to demonstrate your objections.
  3. Sign the petition: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/dont-rip-the-heart-out-of-soho.html.
  4. Demonstrate 9.30-10.30am, Wednesday 11 December, outside Hammersmith Magistrates Court, when the first closure order comes to court.

imagesA massive six-story development with an airport like lounge and heliport is being proposed at Walkers Court in the heart of Soho. The decision on this development is taking place at Westminster Council planning committee on Tuesday 10 December.

A development of this kind will change the very character of the area, wreck the lively diverse community there and lead to the eviction of sex workers from walk-up flats. Residents and small independent business will be particularly affected.

Connected to this development, on 4 December, 200 police raided and closed 20 walk-up flats where sex workers work in relative safety. Police broke down doors, slapped closure notices on the doors and threw women out onto the street. Some immigrant women were taken into custody on the pretext that they may be victims of trafficking, despite their protestations that they were not being forced to work.

If the aim was to help victims why did the police bring the media with them, which then published photos identifying women, why did the police break down doors, handcuff women while they searched premises, bully and intimidate some women into taking cautions for criminal offences? Was this operation aimed at justifying recent EU funding received by the police to tackle trafficking? What role is Soho Estates, the property developers behind the Walkers Court development, playing – their solicitor was directing the police barrister in a recent court appearance.

Soho is one of the safest places to work. This action will force women out onto the street where it is 10 times more dangerous to work. Most of the women thrown out of premises are mothers and grandmothers who have now lost their livelihood.

Evictions and closure of the flats of sex workers are opposed by many other local residents and businesses because they feel that if the “Soho girls” go the whole character of Soho will change. It is this unique, diverse and tolerant community – immigrant, LGBTQ venues, small independent businesses, theatres — which attracts many visitors from around the world.

Women are fighting to defend their rights to work in safety and support their families. The raids, like the bedroom tax and benefit cap, are socially cleansing Soho for the super rich.

For more information: English Collective of Prostitutes and Soho Working Girls
020 7482 2496 ecp@prostitutescollective.net