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Holloway Prison protest: Jeremy Corbyn joins demo calling for social housing to replace jail

PUBLISHED: 10:45 16 May 2016 | UPDATED: 11:11 16 May 2016

Protestors marching on Holloway Prison to demand the prison site is replaced by council housing and community facilities (Picture: Ken Mears)

Protestors marching on Holloway Prison to demand the prison site is replaced by council housing and community facilities (Picture: Ken Mears)

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Jeremy Corbyn joined protesters for a march on Holloway Prison in protest at the government’s housing bill.

Angry demonstrators gave up a Saturday to march on Holloway Prison (Picture: Ken Mears) Angry demonstrators gave up a Saturday to march on Holloway Prison (Picture: Ken Mears)

Saturday’s demo, which heard speakers from groups such as the Reclaim Justice Network and Islington Kill the Housing Bill, saw about 80 people descend on the closing prison to demand council housing and community facilities be installed in its place.

Mr Corbyn addressed protesters before the march, telling them; “I get the feeling we’re going to be doing an awful lot of campaigning and marching for housing in the next four years.

“We need a comprehensive strategy that deals with the housing crisis in this city.”

Speaking to the Gazette after his speech, Mr Corbyn said he was happy with the turnout for the march, adding: “These kinds of marches are important to show community concern about housing.”

The protest was organised by groups including Islington Kill the Housing Bill and Islington Hands Off Our Public Services (Picture: Ken Mears) The protest was organised by groups including Islington Kill the Housing Bill and Islington Hands Off Our Public Services (Picture: Ken Mears)

Protesters gathered outside the London Metropolitan University campus near Holloway station before beginning a march up Holloway Road to the prison. Outside, several people gave impassioned speeches about the future use of the site and the government’s despised housing bill – which passed through Lords with a handful of amendments earlier this month – in general.

These included Finsbury Park Labour councillor Gary Heather and Reclaim Justice Network spokesperson Rebecca Roberts, who told gatherers; “we want social justice, not criminal justice. We want housing, not prisons.”

Plans to close Holloway were announced in the government’s autumn statement, with justice secretary Michael Gove describing the structure as “inadequate and antiquated”. There has not yet been an official statement from the government regarding what will happen to the prison next.

Speaking at a care home opening earlier last week, Mr Corbyn had told the Gazette: “My impression is that the Ministry of Justice want to sell quickly. It’s so important that this doesn’t become expensive luxury flats. We can do a lot more with this site.”

'We want social justice, not criminal justice': Saturday's protest headed up Holloway Road toward the closing prison (Picture: Ken Mears) 'We want social justice, not criminal justice': Saturday's protest headed up Holloway Road toward the closing prison (Picture: Ken Mears)

Among those chanting songs and brandishing placards on the march were Holloway man Leo, 40, and his daughter Ella, nine.

“We’re here for the housing bill in particular, but we’re also concerned about things like the destruction of our health service,” Leo told the Gazette. “So I think it’s about more than just housing – it’s about the attacks on our public services.”

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