On Thursday 30th July Ben Bradshaw's (secretary of State at the Department of Culture Media and Sport) secretary called Hands Off Lewisham Bridge with "a very important message"; that the English Heritage Grade II listing awarded to Lewisham Bridge Primary School remains in place.
This is a great victory for the campaign as it means that Lewisham Council must return the children and staff to the school in September as council officer Chris Threlfall promised. We expect the return to school should not subject to any delay that will cause staff and parents further disruption. For example we understand that the school kitchen needs to be refurbished as parts of it were dismantled for the move to the Mornington Centre. So we expect any necessary works to start as soon as possible (cleaning, refurbishment of the kitchen and health and safety checks)
On April 23rd three parents climbed on the roof of the school to protest about the way parents children and staff have been treated in the entire process to attempt to privatise our school which culminated in the decant to the Mornington Centre against the wishes of the majority of parents and the local community.
Support for the protest grew quickly and by 9am that morning 4 more parents had joined us on the roof and a number of supporters stayed on the ground gathering signatures for our petition. The following day we were visited by 6 workers from the Visteon factory in Enfield who spoke at the launch meeting of Hands Off Lewisham Bridge. A week later we were visited by 6 Visteon workers from Belfast who invited us to march with them in Belfast on the Mayday rally.
The occupation of Lewisham Bridge was inspired by the courageous action taken by the Visteon workers and the parents from Save Our Schools Glasgow. Other similar actions have since taken place such as the occupation at SOAS in protest at the sacking and deportation of some of the cleaners at the university. Most recently is the occupation of the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight .
We have been vindicated in our determination to continue despite the opposition from the Green Party who told us we should accept the situation as the best compromise we could get and despite attempts to intimidate us with court injunctions and the heavy-handed policing of the eviction.
Hands Off Lewisham Bridge wants to thanks all those who have sent us messages of support and donations, to all those who have joined us at various points in the occupation and who have spoken on our behalf at rallies and demos around the country.
The Lewisham Bridge victory sends a message to those in struggle (those who are against the Goldsmiths Trust in Lewisham, parents in Barrow in Furness, the campaign to save Hesketh Fletcher in Wigan) that direct action works. It is a bold step which shows that if we stand up and fight we can win. What we must do now is build on this victory and stand up together. This is a fight against privatisation and the selling off of public services; it’s a fight against redundancies and the selling off of our jobs. It’s a national fight and with our victory we send a message of solidarity to the workers in the Vestas occupation.
Stand up and fight - do it together and we can win!