Discussion Forum

Pitt Street wreck

Posted by Rachel
Saturday, March 5, 2005

I am so upset and angry at the conclusion of the occupation of the old Adult Education centre. I will not assume that it was the squatters who have left it in the terrible state it has been left partly because they supposedly had the sake of the community at the heart of their agenda.

Whoever did leave it like that has not one ounce of community spirit or social conscience and is simply a destructive force out to ruin things for everybody including themselves. I truly pity the people that have taken it upon themselves to waste their time destroying property whether its community owned or private - they have no right what so ever to destroy any property except that which they own and take responsibilty for.

It puts a huge downer on an otherwise lovely community spirit that pervades Hebden as a generally welcoming town to visitors and Hebden Dwellers (old and new) alike.

I hope the perpetrators of the destruction realise that what they did has helped no one and served no purpose but the cost of a big clear up for the innocent purchasers of the place - its not the new owners fault that the council decided to sell it afterall and the new owners haven't anti-social intention for the building's future (I believe there are plans for it to be a children's nursery).

I really hope the people that did it really consider their actions and in retrospect regret what they did - because it wasn't anti-establishment, anarchy action they took, it was just an act of stupid, pointless, thoughtless, selfish vandalism.

Posted by Jack Hughes
Monday, March 7, 2005

From what I hear the destruction had nothing to do with the squatters themselves; rather, it was perpetrated by members of the local lumpenproletariat (i.e. teenage yobs) who weren't impressed by what the "hippies" had done to the place. Can anyone involved in the occupation shed more light on this rumour?

Posted by Bill
Monday, March 7, 2005

Please - let's not be disingenuous here. The people who originally broke into the building must accept the consequences. Or is it always somebody else's fault?

Posted by David
Thursday, March 17, 2005

As far as I know the damage caused at Pitt Street was by some local youth ( I say "some" for the benefit of people who lump 'em all together). Their actions were nihilistic and probably quite exciting for them. A nihilism lost on many people out of their teens. However, it might be more constructive to delve a little deeper than knee-jerk outrage. The arbitary £15,000 damage quoted in the HB Times does not take into account the social and economic cost of a valuable community asset being left empty, unused, and sold off cheap into private ownership, whatever the proposed change of use (and I believe that a nursery is what is planned, having spoken with the new owner's agent, Mr Orme).

As one of the people involved in squatting the building, and working bloody hard with the large number of young people who turned up (half term, Doh!) I've found it hard for the whole Pitt Street "experience" to be reduced to "who's fault is it that the building got trashed?"

On the Sunday night we had a load of young people literally storm the building and try and take over!! Our response, after getting them out, was to invite them back in, with all doors locked shut except the way into the meeting room, where about 30 young people spent 2 hours talking with us - getting their heads round the whole idea of the squat and how they could be involved. The result was a handful of the more hard to handle young people coming in to wash up the following day, and a bunch of youth putting on a music night on the Tuesday, which ended at the agreed time of midnight - except for older brothers who caused hassle. And they booked in time to use the designated graffiti room so as not to clash with other activities, like yoga classes.

When Mr Orme and a local copper where chatting outside the building, their manner changed completely when about 20 young people came pouring out. Yet to us who had been chatting with those young people, we knew that this was because it was 5.30 and they were respecting our wish that they leave the building between 5.30 and 6.30 every day to give us a break, unless they were attending the 6pm meeting, which some did.

Some of us also got to have really interesting chats with young people about how they feel they are perceived in Hebden, the fact that it's them that are facing the reality of not being able to afford to live in their own town, how they get moved on by the police if they hang out some places, what it's like having to have money to do anything (Pitt Street was free entry, free food, collectivisation of resources, open attitude...). They don't often get listened to. And then some of them still go and stupid things like trashing a building.

Maybe they should grow up and join the army so their destructive urges can be channelled to maintain our consumptive lifestyles, which are also violent and mindless. Starting to get the idea? Nothing is as simple as seems the case here.

A lot of energy went into working with some of Hebden's youth. And not suprisingly, some of it went in one ear and out the other. Maybe if some more of us tried to do stuff with young people in our town, even when they are being crap in their behaviour, then some lasting changes might occur. (And of course there are people who do do this). Or what else do we do, strike em out of society now? ASBO em and lock em up so we don't have to think about it? If you have small children now, what will you do when they become teenagers?

I'm feeling passionate as I write this - I hope no-one takes any personal offence at my remarks. The whole situation was and is very challenging. In fact, more challenging than many other squatting experiences I've had. But challenge is to be expected if any positive change is to happen in our f***ed up society, that in itself spawns f***ed up people. In a world where it's OK to bomb other countries to keep the oil flowing, you can hardly expect young people to think twice about a few broken windows.

In fact, thinking about it, this is great to see the idealistic little bubble that is Hebden get a pin stuck in it. If it was Manchester the place would have been burnt to the ground!!!

Looking forward to more discussion and hearing other's perspectives....