Occupy London has announced its takeover of a huge abandoned office block in the borough of Hackney belonging to controversial investment bank UBS.
It describes the move as a ‘public repossession’ of the multimillion pound complex, which has been empty for several years.
The group say the space will be reopened on Saturday morning as the ‘Bank of Ideas.’ An events programme is being lined up, including talks from Palestinian activists, comedy from Josie Long and a session led by trader Alessio Rastani, who sent shockwaves through the media following a provocative interview on the Eurozone crisis.
Overnight on Thursday 17 November 2011, a dozen activists from OLSX gained access to the building and secured it, giving them a legal claim on the space.
The site is the group’s third space and its first building, adding to its two camps at St Paul’s Courtyard – near the London Stock Exchange in the heart of the City – and at Finsbury Square (borough of Islington).
Occupy London supporter Jack Holburn explained: “While over 9,000 families were kicked out of their homes in the last three months for failing to keep up mortgage payments – mostly due to the recession caused by the banks – UBS and other financial giants are sitting on massive abandoned properties.
He continued: “As banks repossess families’ homes, empty bank property needs to be repossessed by the public. Yesterday we learned that the Government has failed to create public value out of banking failure. We can do better. We hope this is the first in a wave of ‘public repossessions’ of property belonging to the companies that crashed the global economy.”
On plans to transform the building, Sarah Layler of Occupy London added: “The Bank of Ideas will host a full events programme where people will be able to trade in creativity rather than cash. We will also make space available for those that have lost their nurseries, community centres and youth clubs to savage Government spending cuts.”
The Bank of Ideas is a non-residential occupation, says OLSX, so visitors are asked not to bring their sleeping bags.
The complex will be free from drugs and alcohol from the start, in acordance with Occupy London’s 'safer space' policy.
OLSX is part of a global movement to promote economic justice, oppose corporate greed, and make financial institutions democratically accountable and socially responsible.
is a Swiss global financial services company headquartered in Basel and Zurich, Switzerland. It provides investment banking, asset management, and 'wealth management services' for private, corporate, and institutional clients worldwide.
The company was originally an abbreviation for the Union Bank of Switzerland, one of its predecessors. But UBS ceased to be considered an abbreviation after its 1998 merger with Swiss Bank Corporation.
In April 2008 UBS announced that it was writing down $19 billion of investments in sub-prime and other mortgage assets. Its total losses in the mortgage market were in excess of $37 billion as the speculation driven financial crisis mounted.
Since the beginning of the global economic shock, the company has lost over $50 billion in total and has cut more than 11,000 jobs, as well as being involved in a major US tax evasion controversy and a rogue trader scandal.
* Bank of Ideas: http://www.bankofideas.org.uk/