Occupy London 'repossesses’ multi-million pound bank offices


– First building for the economic justice campaigners as they occupy third space in borough of Hackney, alongside existing spaces in the City of London and borough of Islington
– New ‘Bank of Ideas’ open to public this Saturday. Offices and meeting rooms will be available for those that have lost their nurseries, community centres and youth clubs due to savage Government spending cuts

Occupy London has taken over a huge abandoned office block in the borough of Hackney belonging to the investment bank UBS in a move it describes as a ‘public repossession.’ [1]

Overnight on Thursday, a dozen activists from the Occupy London, campaigners for social and economic justice as part of the global fight for real democracy, gained access to the building and secured it, giving them a legal claim on the space.

The multimillion pound complex, which has been empty for several years, 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 supporters Jack Holburn said: “Whilst 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 others financial giants are sitting on massive abandoned properties.

“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.”

The Bank of Ideas
The group say the space will be reopened on Saturday morning as the ‘Bank of Ideas.’ [2] 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. [3]

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 – so visitors are asked not to bring their sleeping bags. Space will be free from drugs and alcohol from the start, as per Occupy London’s safer space policy.[4]


[1] The complex is owned by Sun Street Properties Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of UBS. The property includes 5-29 Sun Street, 5-17 Crown Place, 8-16 Earl Street and 54 Wilson Street. See dl.dropbox.com/u/136370/bankofideas/ubs…http://dl.dropbox.com/u/136370/bankofideas/shoreditch-ubs.PDFdl.dropbox.com/u/136370/bankofideas/pla…http://dl.dropbox.com/u/136370/bankofideas/os-map.pdf and dl.dropbox.com/u/136370/bankofideas/lan…

[2] www.bankofideas.org.uk

[3] www.youtube.com/watch?v=aC19fEqR5bA

[4] occupylsx.org/?page_id=1214

[5] UBS Bank, which describes itself as a ‘premier global financial services firm offering wealth management, investment banking, asset management and business banking services’ was the subject of a $60bn bailout from the Swiss government in 2008 after piling up the biggest losses of any European lender from the global credit crisis. Since the time, the bank has cut thousands of jobs.

In September, a 31-year old trader at UBS was arrested by City of London police in connection with rogue trading that has cost the bank an estimated $2bn. The New York Times wrote an article in response called ‘At UBS, It’s the Culture That’s Rogue’ (see www.nytimes.com/2011/09/24/business/glo…? pagewanted=all)

The Financial Mail ran the headline ‘UBS grabs £1bn from pensioners’ with reference to a controversial form of secured lending that was sold aggressively to pensioners (seedl.dropbox.com/u/136370/bankofideas/ubs….)

The bank has nine offices in the UK including three in London.

A recent report showed a total of 9,200 homes in the UK were repossessed by banks in the third quarter of the year, a rise on the previous three months (see www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15672123). Figures are expected to deteriorate further.

[6] Nearest tubes for the Occupy London Stock Exchange (OccupyLSX) site are St. Pauls, Mansion House and Canon Street; buses 4, 11, 15, 23, 25, 26, 100, 242; do check Transport For London website for delays and closures at journeyplanner.tfl.gov.uk/user/XSLT_TRI…. The new Bank of Ideas is just down the road from the Occupy London Finsbury Square (OccupyLFS) space, which is near Moorgate; buses 141, 153, 205, 21, 214, 43

[7] On Sunday 16th October at an assembly of over 500 people on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, Occupy London collectively agreed the initial statement below. Please note, like all forms of direct democracy, the statement will always be a work in progress. Details at occupylsx.org/?page_id=575

[8] Bringing together a diverse range of people, Occupy London’s Stock Exchange, Finsbury Square (OccupyLFS) and Bank of Ideas are part of more than 30 occupations happening in towns and cities across the UK and over 1,000 actions worldwide coming together under the banner of “United For Global Change” calling for true democracy. Occupy London is supported by groups including UK Uncut, the London-based Assembly of the Spanish 15M movement and many others. It has already received phenomenal interest, from the public and media in the UK and around the world, with the OccupyLSX facebook group now more than 31,000 members.

[9] More information on UK occupations at www.occupybritain.co.uk/protest-details


51 Responses to “Occupy London 'repossesses’ multi-million pound bank offices”

  1. Why has UBS been targeted when it doesn’t offer mortgages in the UK to anyone via private banking (unless you happen to be a millionaire!)?
    Also it has repaid it’s Govt debt (unlike most banks) so seems a stupid one to hassle.

    Surely the real UK banks are the ones you should be protesting about, not foreign one???

    • Bob, surely the question is why are buildings like that sitting empty when, thanks to housing benefit cuts;

      “9,000 London households will have to leave their homes as a result of the caps, and that about 4,600 will be unable to find anywhere else to live “locally”. This could mean upwards of 20,000 children having to move, 14,000 out of their local area, resulting in disruption to education, health and social services. ”

      Quotes from the Child Poverty Action Group as seen on the following link http://www.cpag.org.uk/press/2011/131011.htm

  2. Support & Solidarity from Cymru.

  3. Great move! I love it! 🙂

  4. David Cameron called for everyone to get involved in the ‘Big Society’. This is it David. You should embrace it. Pete

    • Yay Pete! Onwards and upwards!!

  5. This is so great to see the people fighting for what is right – which after all is not a lot – Just the right to live and eat, have medical and social care and work. Generations have worked and paid taxes into a system that ensures all are cared for. This new vulture generation of economists and politicians wants to keep us paying tax and make us pay on top of that for a privatised system that serves only a few greedy bastards. No! This is Not the measure of a civilised society. I fully support the Bank of ideas! Occupy London Thankyou

  6. If what you say about this bank is true the mind boggles. It is obscene that our money
    holders can have that amount of power over us, get this information on to mainstream media and they will crumble ,good luck to you all .

  7. I am a retired firefighter from london, and i would just like to thank all you at occupy.
    at last the young people are standing up and demanding that the system becomes fairer. the old politicians have nothing to say they are finished but dont realize it yet

  8. Brilliant idea. Repossess what we already own.

  9. “Figures are expected to deteriorate further.” Figures can’t deteriorate – conditions, health and the weather might deteriorate, figures can’t. The number of home repossessions may increase, but that is a different matter.

    Personally, I don’t think a political movement consisting of the semi-literate unemployed is really going to achieve very much. Particularly when you don’t have a coherent manifesto for change.

    • Richard, such a sweeping mis generalisation! Please read more comments on the site and I’m sure you will agree there is a lot of intelligence here.
      I myself have an M.A(hons) and run my own business (as a sole trader). For anyone who doesn’t know that means I take all responsibility for any loss I make and don’t land it on the public.

  10. 2 http://www.bankofideas.org.uk This link is not working in this article, please check it and fix it. Thank you very much. Keep strong !

  11. Empty property/landbanking like this is an example of why we need #LVT land tax. Even the Institute of Fiscal Studies now (at last) supports LVT and the ‘independent’ government advisory body, the Office of Budget Responsibility, is inclining that way. Unearned income from property/house-price inflation is unjust and socially damaging. LVT would help bring prices down, as keeping buildings empty (landbanking), as in UBS example above, would be more expensive than bringing them back in to use.

  12. You can’t take over a building whatever your beliefs, there’s no justification and it’s illegal, your movement has just become abunch of squatters now so congradulations I’m pretty sure support across this country for squattering all over this country is really high, I wouldn’t be surprised if now all the thiefs and pickpockets move in with you to use you as a shield and cover so if they do you deserve to suffer as a result.

    If you believe in something called “public reposesstion” then does that mean I can come and “public repossess” some of the goodies in your camp and bring them home, I mean as a 99% surely i’m just in doing so if you’ve stolen a bank.

    Your movement needs to end immediately you’ve set off something dangerous and what I mean in that is people will now think they can squat other building and take them and quite possibly buildings owned by companies which did follow the rules, this country will not tolerate squatters regardless of their excuse and in case you missed it when you were out causing a nuisance there was a disruption on halloween over the new laws against squatters so lets see how long you really stay where you are before your not only removed but arrested.

    • Okay just want to add, I must ask exactly how you gained access to this building and you WILL think long and hard about your response, you state you gained access and occupied it yet I find it odd that the buiilding would not be secured and locked so I therefore put it to you that you and demand an answer to my accusation that.

      “You have forced entry into an empty building and squatted in it which by doing so does not fall under the squatters rights but falls under breaking and entering which is a criminal offense.”

      • Oh and this as well

        St Paul’s Cathedral is losing thousands of pounds a week because tourists and concert goers are being scared off by the protest on its doorstep.

        Visitor numbers are down by half and a leading stage school has cancelled its carol concert over the safety fears.

        Italia Conti, whose former pupils include Patsy Kensit, Bonnie Langford and Pixie Lott, had spent years planning the carol concert to mark the centenary of its foundation.

        But it decided that the health and safety concerns surrounding the camp were too great to risk for its congregation which would have included young children and the disabled.

        Proud of yourselves then? I’m sure you are, hell bet your even laughing at it, you don’t care for anyone but yourselves and your stepping on the public with your deluded ideology how many more people must the OLSX movement hurt before you grow a conscience? because right now your so called conscience for the benefit of society is simple Greed, you’re being as greedy as the bankers you so blamer your private problems on.

        End the Occupy Movement before, WE, the public end the movement

  13. Wish I were there!!!!! The worlds owes you a great debt of gratitude!

  14. I applaud the bravery and conviction of the Occupy movement. This is yet another example of individuals prepared to act collectively on behalf of the many suffering hardship as a result of the greed and corruption of the few.

  15. So much wealth that they can afford to leave such a huge building unoccupied. Whilst families are made homeless and pensioners are bludgeoned with huge tax demands just before winter. At the same time, the government cut the benefits of vulnerable people, already 16 disabled people have committed suicide after Attos, the expensive private firm persecuting the sick & disabled for the government, cut or stopped their disability benefits. Why don’t they just send out razor blades and bottles of pills.

  16. A noble and courageous occupation. Thank you to everyone involved in this action.

  17. … great work – a very positive move. Complimenti a tutti!

  18. Isn’t Allesio Rastani more of a private tutor and successful self-publicist than an actual trader?

    His interview was widely shared more because people were surprised by his openly selfish attitude than for any actual insight there was to be gained by watching it.

  19. Can I be the first to congratulate ‘bank of Ideas’. Great idea.

  20. Brilliant tactical move! I applaud you.
    So rather than remove your tents and other stuff cluttering up St Paul’s and continued your protest in a dignified way, within the law, you now appear to have broken into a private building and set up a squat. Awesome. I’m guessing you’ve now lost any kind of mainstream support or interest in what you had to say and instead just proved yourselves to be career protesters, whingers and otherwise workshy soap dodgers that we expected. Again, well done.

  21. Wonderful absolutely wonderful! This really made me smile. I lolled so much I still have pains in my sides. =D

  22. Thats great.

  23. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-15778206

    archbishop says he for the revolution

  24. Link is broken in Notes #7. Please fix so we can read what the GA decided. Thanks.

  25. Great action, beautiful work!

    Something to really inspire and put some energy back into Occupy London.

  26. I wonder whose bright idea this was. I did have sympathy with your basic idea of trying to make people think about the future and new ways society could be organised but sadly it seems that all you are trying to do now is force a violent confrontation with the police.

  27. SO EXCITED to hear about this. Huge congratulations! Will definitely be down soon to see what it’s like 🙂

  28. Actually we are possessing the land more so than the building

    The thing most valuable to the bank

    If they have any sense they will be happy for us to keep the building in good condition because that depreciates over time

    The land appreciates so why would they care

    Squatters know this well

    We may be doing them a favour.

    Look at St Pauls for proof. We occupy no building there

  29. Might be a good idea to invite all those repossessed or made redundant to make good use of the building until their economic situations improve, seems only fair to me !

  30. That’s great, congratulations.
    Somehow my previous comment was deleted.

  31. This is not a clever thing to do, and will only have a negative impact on your support. If you seriously believe that the 99% support breaking into private, unoccupied premises, claiming them as your own, you’re more out of touch with the population than any politicians, bankers, corporate organisations in the land.

  32. I love the “Bank of ideas” concept.

    The irony of course is that the whole Occupy movement has the potential to be a sort of “free market” of ideas, forms and methods that is showing itself as far more nimble than the Statist operations of Government, the Police, and the Banks themselves!

    Freedom of ideas
    Freedom of expression
    Freedom from opression

  33. *currently waving twinkly hands like crazy*
    Good work guys! Superb freakin’ work! 🙂

  34. Lets get this ball really rolling and start changing things ourselves. You can see its probably pointless to wait for our dear political leaders.

    Can I suggest we start organising smaller splinter groups that are involved in their own communities. Anyone can be involved. Just start by gathering a few neighbours once a week and do something positive for the local community. Gotta start somewhere.

    Press the council etc to let the local community use empty shops etc for the benfit of the community.

    Once these smaller groups are organised we could have local co-op shops etc with profits going back into the local community.

    Watching and reading the news is too depressing. Things go from bad to worse and nothing changes apart from more ‘cuts’, job losses, etc, and aparently its all for our benefit as our financial Gods may get upset and ruin us all. All very Greek – pun intended!

    What can we do to help? Any change must be an improvement.

  35. Over the winter, banks are definitely more suitable for camping than parks. I hope that many more banks will follow all over the world. Keep up the good work!


  36. Here in exeter there is also a large government building empty for some years ! Exeter city council has pushed nearly all the small local traders out of the city centre due due to it’s hiked local business tax ! Our street market is crippled also by way of example you may have only 1 fruit and veg stand and so on !

  37. The best show in town.

  38. Mortgage Strikes – Student Loan Strikes
    Occupy London, please invites Ross Maguire, of New Begining in Ireland to speak here. Let’s think if this will work in the UK or how it can be adapted.


  39. BOYCOTT BANKS GODDAM%IT… I’d like to see picket signs and annonymous masks in front of one certain bank that rotates to a different bank each year or until each are forced to go BANKRUPT.

  40. It’s great that you are opposing government cuts to nurseries and are propsing to help with that in the Bank of ideas. I have an idea to suggest: Has it occurred to you that many people who have been affected by the cuts, as have their kids, are being affected by the lack of outdoor play space – especially in deprived central London. It would be great to return some green space to the public that it belongs to. To repossess the parks and squares. If only our children could get back to being able to play in the spaces that have been so cruelly taken by the 1% who want to control us and force their views on us. Yes! Please can my kids have Finsbury square back from you and go back to playing in it like they did before you came with your tents from your parents in rural Gloucestershire or wherever it is you have appeared from. Byeeee!

  41. Well done! Brilliant action.


  43. Great work Occupy London, very smart and creative! Proud of you, as well as our occupiers here in the states. This is just the beginning of positive change…much more coming forth!
    Linda> Occupy Ocala, Florida

  44. The link for the Financial Mail story – about UBS taking almost £1bn from pensioners – is broken, you can find a scan of the story here:

  45. Did Jeremy Clarkson lost huge amount of money due to the advice given by UBS?

    UBS recently had a rogue trader losing $2 billion before they noticed it.

    Perhaps Occupy movement can do a better job in looking after UBS’s assests?





Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment. Log in »

© 2012 Occupy London
Powered By DynamiX