The Ottawa Journal, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Originally published in The Ottawa Journal, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on Wednesday, November 2nd, 1977.
Squatters proclaim slum street republic
LONDON (Reuter) – A group of London squatters today announced it has turned a slum street into the independent republic of Frestonia and applied to the United Nations for membership.
The 120 squatters released copies of letters sent to Queen Elizabeth, the European Common Market and UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim announcing the group’s unilateral declaration of independence from Britain.
Under an elaborate coat of arms, self-styled Frestonian Foreign Minister David Rappaport-Bramley declared Frestonia will issue its own passports and stamps. All inhabitants, he said, have taken the surname Bramley.
The population of the eight-acre slum site, owned by the Greater London Council, had voted in a referendum to opt for statehood in the face of lack of concern for the area by the British government and local council and “their unfitness to remain as its rulers,” he said.
A council spokesman said the squatters were occupying the property illegally and most were concerned merely with evading payment of rent.
The spokesman said the council had gone out of its way to help the squatters by allowing a 28-day period of grace within which they would be given the opportunity to apply for re-location or to become regular council tenants. If they made no move they would face eviction. All the property, he said, was scheduled for re-development.