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Putney the Latest to Fall Victim to Land Grabbers

Posted by Jack Dangerfield Media Intern for Oxfam in the South East

18th Dec 2012

Land grabbers 'sell' off Putney Bridge

It was a typically cold and grey Monday morning, as we strolled down the banks of the River Thames.  We were just passing the London Rowing Club Boathouse when two men appeared, dressed in suits and bowler hats, money stuffed in their pockets, while displaying a big red 'sold' sign.  They began by declaring the rowing club's stretch of the Thames had been sold to overseas investors and that any unsuspecting pedestrian who happened to be enjoying a nice quiet walk along the river to 'move along'.  Much to our shock, the land had been sold right in front of our eyes. 

They then proceeded along the bank of the Thames to 'sell' Putney Bridge, an area of land where construction workers were busy at work and then on up Putney High Street selling off almost everything in sight including the Oxfam shop, Wimbledon Tennis Courts, a local household, while managing to bring traffic to a halt along the way.   

While fortunately these antics were all just a spoof, land grabs are a reality affecting millions of poor people around the world and this practice plunges communities further into poverty.  An area the size of London is sold off to foreign investors in poor countries every six days, forcing many off their which they rely on to feed their families.  It's this that makes it one of the main causes of hunger in the world today.  The thought of such a thing happening to us in the UK is unthinkable, however it is a reality affecting millions around the world.

We chose Putney as it's the constituency of Justine Greening MP, who is also the Secretary of State for International Development. Oxfam wants her to use her influence to get the World Bank to freeze all land deals until the practice can be reformed to ensure that people living on the land are consulted and where necessary, compensated.

We were just one group of many campaigners who over the last week up and down the country were campaigning about the injustice of land grabbing.  Other mock 'land grabs' included the White Cliffs of Dover, Brighton Beach, the Angel of the North, Norwich Castle, Barry Island, and the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, among others. Oxfam is campaigning to put an end to land grabs as part of their Grow campaign which aims to see a world where everyone has enough to eat.  For more information on the campaigning and to see how you can get involved follow this link:

To view the Putney land grab video see here:

Blog post written by Jack Dangerfield

Media Intern for Oxfam in the South East

More by Jack Dangerfield