1,000 signatures reached
To: Foresters Solicitors
Don't Kick Us Out of The Rebel Bank on Christmas Day!
Please extend our lease till end of April! We're trying to raise the money to buy the bank from you at a rate you'll be happy with - it makes no sense to kick us out till the end of moratorium period of the Asset of Community Value.
Why is this important?
Dear Joe, Alan and John,
When we moved in to the bank, 151-155 Hoe Street, the roof was leaking, the place was painted a clash of garish pink and co-op blue and with its low hanging corporate ceilings it was a fairly unpleasant temporary space for us to rent for our art project challenging the power of banks and creditors to rule over our lives.
We worked on our hands and knees through the freezing winter, end of 2017 and beginning of 2018, we brought the place to life and we then used it to print out our form of community money – featuring Gary from the Food Bank, Saira and her family from the homeless kitchen, Steve from the Youth Project and Tracey, headmistress of Barn Croft school.
As you know, we then sold this money as art and were able to raise £40,000 – putting £5,000 into each local cause, and using the other £20,000 to buy up and then abolish £1.2m of high interest local debt from around Walthamstow.
Our project became a surprise hit, and we built up a community spanning not only across Britain but also internationally.
We always knew that you had plans to sell the building but were very happy to be able to rent it from you at an affordable price in the meantime.
After we blew up the van stuffed with the £1.2m of debt, we brought it back to Walthamstow, and hung it in the bank, we had thousands of people through the doors – and the work we have produced has been collected far and wide, in some of the top museums in Britain – including the V&A, Museum of London, British Museum, Smithsonian as well as more locally by Vestry House and The William Morris.
The story too has travelled far and wide, appearing in print in the New York Times and in The Guardian, as well as appearing on the BBC One Show and on French, German and American TV. The BFI have got behind our film Bank Job, largely set in and around the bank. By allowing us to build our project in your building we have inspired people with hope that the current economic system does not have to remain for ever, and that the cruelty of our debt based economy could be turned on its head and a brighter and happier time might be just around the corner.
When you told us in July this year that you had decided the time had come to sell the building, we were determined to try and buy it. You told us that commercial estate agents that you were commissioning with this job had told you they believed they could get as high as £3.5m for the building, but we remained resolved that we would do our very best to get hold of it in order to continue our journey. We hired in post graduate architecture students through the summer, working with our neighbours (experienced architects) to build a totally sustainable future for the bank, with zero carbon – and imagined it as the headquarters of our new project, equally ambitious – which will try to take Walthamstow right off the grid. We believe this project to be absolutely necessary if the next generation will be able to live decent meaningful lives.
In order to compete with the offers you told us you already had flowing in from developers, we registered the bank as an ‘asset of community value’ – this meant that you could not sell it to anyone other than a community group such as ourselves until April next year. We knew we ran the risk of upsetting you doing this, but we felt we had little choice as you were telling us you would be making up your minds who to sell it to at the end of October. We needed time to try and raise the capital necessary. We didn’t do this as an act of sabotage but one of community empowerment which we hoped - as legal aid solicitors - you would understand.
Now that I’m writing you this letter, in the form of a petition, it’s pretty clear that you have not understood. You have asked us to move out of the bank by Christmas day, and rather than selling it you seem to want to rent it out. You won’t rent it to us – and you have decided that whatever happens you just want us out. The reason we’re now writing is to urge you to reconsider this.
We know that you are legal aid solicitors. We know that you have been serving the most in need of justice in Walthamstow for decades. We know you are the good guys. We want to ensure that you get what you want and deserve but also that our project manages to grow and achieve the results we all need it to. We urge you to reconsider your decision, and to allow us till the end of April in the bank – to try and raise enough money from art sales and large capital grants to be able to buy the building from you at a price you’re happy with. In the meantime we are more than happy to pay more rent to offset whatever inconvenience we have caused.
Please, let’s try and work together to make this a successful outcome for all of us. Please extend our lease till end of April when the Asset of Community Value ceases.
Please do not kick us out on Christmas day.
Dan Edelstyn and all the Bank Job team