Protesters have today, Wednesday, closed down the world’s largest property fair MIPIM in Kensington’s Olympia.
The protesters, mainly trade’s unionists, housing activists and others who say they are angry at foreign investors in London property, and what they claim to be the government’s failure to solve the “housing crisis”.
The inaugural UK property fair, the 1st UK version of the MIPIM property trade show, held annually in Cannes, is a gathering of leading property professionals looking to close deals in the UK property market: investors, developers, local authorities, occupiers, hotel groups, agents and business service providers.
The event got off to an ominous start last week when Unite, the UK’s biggest trades union, asked Labour councillors to stay away from the MIPIM property fair, recognised as the largest property event of its kind in the world.
Visitors, estimated to be around 4,000 in total over the three days of the event, had to fight their way past crowds of protesters and a police cordon as they approached the building. They were hoping to hear keynote speaker, London Mayor Boris Johnson, who it seems was a main target for the protesters.
A group calling themselves Lambeth Housing Activists have said “our cities are not for sale. We are going to demand housing solutions that benefit everyone not the rich elite; to say stop social cleansing our neighbourhoods.”
They were particularly annoyed that, they claim, the Government has given private landords over £50 billion in the form of housing benefit payments and ‘help to buy’ loans.
Unite claim that MIPIM is fuelling the housing crisis. Asking all Labour councillors in London to boycott the event, Unite said because of the union’s fears that property developers will “stitch up deals” that would hit council tenants and leaseholders in the capital.
Unite has said that “the fair attracts developers, estate agents, landowners and multi-national investors who, are directly profiting from the UK housing crisis”.
Writing to all Labour-controlled councils in London, the Unite’s deputy regional secretary for London Vince Passfield has said: “Many will be seeking to make property deals with local authorities that will ultimately be detrimental to existing residents and wider communities.”
This is Mayor Boris Johnson’s address to MIPIM this morning:
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) October 15, 2014