Students fight legal action to remove squatters from Wadham building

first_imgIffley Open House has been served with an eviction order by the current leaseholders of the ground floor of a building that they are using as a temporary homeless shelter.The Midcounties Co-operative Investment are taking legal action to imminently secure possession of the property, which is also owned by Wadham College. A court hearing is scheduled to take place tomorrow.However, the appeal by the group of squatters to continue using a building on Iffley road owned by Wadham being backed by Wadham JCR and OUSU’s ‘On your Doorstep’ homelessness campaign.Kevin Brown from Midcounties Co-operative Investment said: “We’re very sympathetic to the plight of the homeless, particularly at this time of year and are in dialogue with a number of parties to review all of our options for this site.”Meanwhile Wadham college has stated that it would “prefer to resolve the situation amicably”.However, the college has warned of safety concerns with the building, which they say contains large amounts of asbestos and has an unsafe roof.The building, purchased by Wadham in 2015, is scheduled for demolition from the end of February so that it can then be turned it into student accommodation.It has been occupied since New Year’s Eve by a group calling itself Iffley Open House. Around 36 people are believed to currently be sleeping in the space.The group started a petition requesting the college’s permission to use the former VW garage as a temporary shelter until the end of winter.The group said they want to “provide secure shelter and basic amenities for people sleeping rough on Oxford’s streets.”A student campaign, started by a group of Wadham students, held a meeting this week, in attempts to push the college to allow the shelter to move upstairs in the building. Chair of OUSU’s ‘On your Doorstep’ campaign, Jeevan Ravindran, told Cherwell the group would “do everything it can” to keep the shelter open.He said: “Keeping Iffley Open House accessible for the winter months could save lives, and would be a chance for the university to show that they are willing to help. In the face of the loss of 145 beds for the homeless and shelter closures as temperatures plummet…it’s a disgrace to allow people to die on our streets.”Speaking to Cherwell, Wadham SU President Lucas Bertholdi-Saad acknowledged that “the student body does have a material interest in ensuring the site is developed on schedule” but showed support for the temporary occupation.He said: “Until and beyond the time at which Wadham will require access to the site, however, I believe that a state exists that minimises the risk of harm to the people staying at the Iffley site, whose current alternative is sleeping rough in freezing temperatures, and I know that Wadham students will be fighting for that end.”On Friday morning students plan to stand outside Oxford crown court with banners during the court hearing.At the time of going to print, 89 people had attended the event ‘Support Us at Court- Resist the Iffley Open House EvictionIn a statement on Thursday, Wadham said that while it was “profoundly sympathetic to the plight of homeless people in and around Oxford” that the college is “ obliged to ensure that the College’s assets can be used to their fullest extent and, in relation to the Iffley Road property, to construct new student accommodation, which will be particularly important for students of more modest means.”“We are seeking to establish a constructive dialogue with all of the interested parties. We have met with representatives of the Iffley Open House and are working to reach a consensus on how best to resolve this matter.”In a letter to Iffley Open House, seen by Cherwell, Wadham specifically warned of “serious safety issues for anyone visiting or remaining within this old and dilapidated building which is not considered safe for residential use.”last_img read more

Justice Department takes aim at cleanup holes in FirstEnergy restructuring plan

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Plain Dealer:The U.S. Department of Justice fired a warning shot this week across the bow of FirstEnergy Solutions and its path toward restructuring itself free of past debt and other obligations. The warning did not leave out parent company FirstEnergy, which negotiated a deal with FES and creditors last summer and has since insisted it has no financial responsibility for FES and its many problems.The federal and state authorities don’t agree with that and filed an objection in bankruptcy court making sure the companies, its creditors, and the court understand that. In an eight-page court brief, lawyers for the Justice Department and Ohio and Pennsylvania attorneys general noted that they believe FirstEnergy has “significant independent liability.” They added that FES itself is also on the hook to pay for cleanup left behind by coal power plants and the long-term decommissioning cost of its nuclear plants.“The Non-Debtor Affiliates (FirstEnergy) have numerous liabilities to the Governments under environmental laws for their ownership and/or operation of (and/or disposal at) some of the same facilities for decades even before the Debtors [FES] became the owners/operators,” they argue.The brief reads that FES has for months repeatedly put off negotiating its liabilities for cleaning up power plant environmental damage while simultaneously cutting deals with its creditors and winning extra time from the court to independently restructure itself, free of past debt.“Counsel requested that the Governments be included early on in the negotiations [with creditors] and not be the only ones left out and then presented with a fait accompli that everybody else had negotiated,” the attorneys wrote.Yet, in the latest request to the court for a third time extension to continue to develop its restructuring plan without having to deal with competing plans, FES made no mention of its obligations to deal with the government, the brief to the court said. The FES request for a third extension of time was “silent with respect to the Governments’ concerns and makes no provision for any allocation or trust relating to environmental liabilities,” the government noted.More: Justice Department, Ohio AG warn FirstEnergy Solutions and FirstEnergy on environmental obligations Justice Department takes aim at cleanup holes in FirstEnergy restructuring planlast_img read more