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Montreal Square campaign backed by Cambridge Labour




Montreal Square campaigners from left are Cameron Nicholls, Lionel, Marti King and Cheryl Smith. Picture: Mike Scialom
Montreal Square campaigners from left are Cameron Nicholls, Lionel, Marti King and Cheryl Smith. Picture: Mike Scialom

Montreal Square protestors continued their weekly vigil outside Mill Road Co-Op this afternoon – the 37th consecutive such Saturday vigil since the prospect of eviction went public last year.

The residents, some of whom have lived in the Square for more than 40 years, are continuing to fight the plans being consulted on by charitable housing association Cambridge Housing Society (CHS) Group. Locals first heard in January 2018 about the possibility of 18 homes being demolished to make way for a new development, which would put 42 homes on the Square by reducing the size of the gardens. Current residents would be relocated elsewhere, sparking a campaign which has been well documented on social media.

"It's all really gone up a gear in the last week," says resident and protestor Cheryl Smith, speaking outside the Co-Op.

On Monday Cambridge Labour passed a motion in favour of Montreal Square Residents’ Campaign “in their opposition to the demolition of their homes by Cambridge Housing Society and the redevelopment of the site”.

On Thursday there was a meeting with the CHS: the Cambridge Independent will continue to report on what happens next.

Montreal Square resident and protestor Marti King said: "At the meeting there were seven of their board members. Noel Kavanagh (Romsey county councillor) spoke for us."

Cheryl added: "The housing people say they'll give us a response by the end of January but they haven't answered the questions we asked and are not considering the option of refurbishment of the properties, rather than demolition. They want part-ownership, that's not for low-income groups, it's not about us – we're a community."

Marti said: "We know there's a desperate shortage of housing in Cambridge – but that shouldn't be at our expense."

Cheryl: "She" – Marti – "shouldn't be out defending her home at the age of 73."

Marti said: "One councillor advised me not to be too emotional or passionate in my talk, but why would I not be when it's my home being threatened?"

"Another bloke," added Marti, apparently suggested at the meeting that "not that many people in Montreal Square use their gardens".

Cheryl responded: "Hasn't he heard of hedgehogs? They don't like being disturbed. We've got birds, foxes, hedgehogs, plus bats from May to September, and the birds include blue tits, longtail tits, blackbirds, starlings, robins, collared doves, woodpecker and crows. It's one of the things that makes me want to live there – the wildlife."

Almost 1,700 people have signed the petition to save Montreal Square.



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