02/02/17 Squatters occupy empty London property

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The vast £15m home, bought by Russian Andrey Goncharenko in 2014, is housing about 25 people

Vocabulary. Read and check you understand this before you read and listen to the article:

*squatters: people who occupy uninhabited buildings

shelter: a place of temporary refuge from bad weather or danger

to sleep rough: to sleep in uncomfortable conditions, normally outside

figures (context): official government statistics

flamboyant: attracting attention because of extravagance, exuberance, confidence or stylishness

pipeline: a long underground pipe conveying oil or gas

lavish: sumptuously rich, extravagant or luxurious

A veteran group of squatters has occupied an empty £15m central London property, purchased by a Russian oligarch in 2014, and opened it as a homeless shelter.

The extensive, five-storey Eaton Square property was bought by Andrey Goncharenko, a little-known oligarch who has bought a number of luxury properties in London in recent years.

The squatters – the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians, known as ANAL – said they entered the building through an open window on 23rd January and have accommodated about 25 homeless people so far, many of whom had been sleeping rough around Victoria station.  Tom Fox, 23, one of the squatters, said: “It is criminal that there are so many homeless people and at the same time so many empty buildings. Our occupation is highlighting this injustice.”

New rough sleeper figures published this week have revealed an increase of 16% from last year, to more than 4,000. More than 200,000 homes have been empty for more than six months, according to new government figures.

Fox said ANAL members had set up a projector so they could hold movie nights, are collecting portable cookers to provide food for homeless people and are planning to host talks about homelessness and other issues. They have also established a free shop offering clothing.

The house is one of four purchased by Goncharenko over a three-year period, including Hanover Lodge, in Regent’s Park, for which he paid £120m – making it one of the UK’s most expensive homes.

The 1,329 square metre property was built in around 1825 by the Grosvenor family and was until recently the home of the Spanish cultural centre Instituto Cervantes, which has moved to The Strand. It is in the heart of Belgravia and a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace.

The businessman is “obscure” by the flamboyant standards of Russian oligarchs. He is described as the chief executive of a subsidiary of Gazprom, the country’s biggest and best-connected gas company. The firm – Gazprom Invest Yug – builds gas pipelines and other gas transport networks.

In 2011, a gossip columnist reported that he had hosted a lavish party in the south of France, a favourite summer destination for Moscow’s super-rich. The venue was Le Palm Beach, a casino in Cannes, and the guests were described as “secretive and completely unknown billionaires”.

Adapted from: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jan/27/squatters-open-oligarchs-empty-london-property-as-homeless-shelter

“Let’s chat about that!”

Write your answers and send them by email to your ECP coach. Why not record your voice too? Listen to yourself speak and identify what you have to improve on ????

Give reasons for your answers.

Write your answers in an email and send them to your ECP coach!

  • What is squatting? Is it wrong? Why/not?
  • How many homes do you/your family own?
  • Is your mortgage fully paid off? Or does the bank own your house? How do you feel about this?
  • What would you do to end homelessness?
  • Should rich people pay more tax to help the poor? Why (not) ?
  • Should big companies/the rich be helped to avoid paying more tax? 
  • Is it ethically wrong to have a second home? 
  • If so, what should be done about it?

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