Monday 10 December 2012

Three Brighton Starbucks shut in UKUncut action-but where was the Left?

Yet again UKUncut showed us how direct action is done in its campaign against corporate tax dodging. In Brighton they did not manage to occupy any shops ...because management closed them! Something of an own-goal methinks!
We leafletted outside the shops and people queued to sign the petition. UKUncut have a way of connecting with people's concerns that the organised left could learn from.
Speaking of which...where were they?
I have noticed before that UKUncut actions consist of a different set of people from the usual activists, but on Saturday (apart from a couple of Socialist Worker sellers) there was a complete absence of the Brighton Left.
Why this should be the case I don't know, and maybe it was only a Brighton phenomenon, but it seems like a missed opportunity to me.

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Saturday 1 December 2012

Rally against Osborne's cuts- December 5th


Rally in defence of public services, the NHS and the Welfare State

Wednesday 5th December
5.45 pm
Clock Tower

Speakers from NHS and Council Unions, and campaigners for public services.

Why are large corporations and wealthy individuals able to avoid tax while our services are slashed?
Why do bankers get bonuses while we get wage and benefit cuts?
Why are millions unemployed while employers are allowed to use workfare schemes to avoid taking people on and paying them a decent wage?

Austerity isn't working!

Join the Budget Day protest

Supported by
Brighton Hove and District TUC
Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition
Brighton Benefits Campaign

In his Budget statement on December 5th, Osborne is announcing more misery for ordinary people. This is in addition to the cuts in benefits already announced and the selling off of the NHS.  Brighton and Hove City Council is facing a deficit of £25 million next year alone.  This will decimate local services and destroy jobs.

NHS Act set to destroy health service

The Coalition has passed an Act that will  -

encourage private health companies to cherry pick the profitable services away from   the NHS
force hospitals to compete with each other, threatening hospital bankruptcy.
allow hospitals fill up to half of all beds with private patients; before there was limit on private patients, but that’s been scrapped. You and your family will go to the back of the queue.
Restrict the range of health services available. Your GP, formerly your health champion will now appear to become a health scrooge. GPs have been conscripted to be the government’s messenger.
But, they can stick with the publicly-run services, so tell your GP that you don’t want your health services privatised.
More information go to

Monday 19 November 2012

Action in support of Gaza - Saturday in Brighton - photos and video

There was a march in solidarity with the people of Gaza last Saturday. The march ended with a picket of the EcoStream store, trading on the Occupation. More information here

YouTube Video

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Wednesday 7 November 2012

Should socialists be happy about the re-election of Obama?

 When I woke up this morning and heard the news, I was happy.  perhaps happier than I expected.  Maybe I was happier at  the defeat of Romney than the victory of Obama, but whatever, I was not neutral on the issue.

So what to make of this feeling of happiness?

Clearly, on policy issues there is barely a difference between the parties. Indeed, Obama has arguably followed a more hawkish foreign policy than many Republicans would have been prepared to countenance. But acknowledging that the parties are not very different on policy is not the same as not worrying either way about the electoral outcome.  The story is the same over on this side of the pond - you need have no illusions in Labour to want the defeat of the Coalition, and in electoral terms only Labour in the short term can deliver that defeat.

On the positive side, the Obama victory revealed that most Americans have no time for the ultra reactionary policies of the Tea Party, despite all the hype. This can be seen in Romney's mad dash for the centre ground at the end of the campaign - which did him no good because no-one believed it.  The Obama victory also represents a defeat for the Republican war on women, particularly on abortion rights, although they can still do a lot of damage through the State legislatures which they control. 

It is also significant that Obama could not allow the US motor industry to go to the wall.  He went for a bailout when Romney was advocating letting it go bankrupt. 

The Democratic Party is still the party with which the organised working class in the US identifies itself most closely, even if not always especially enthusiastically.

Most importantly, Obama's victory raises workers' expectations and intensifies their demands.  Of course, the Democratic Party is never going to be the vehicle for the realisation of those demands - the mass of ordinary people in the US need a new broad left party just as much as we do, and that is what socialists in the US, as here, need to build.

Thursday 1 November 2012

China's rise.....

Monday 12 November
7.30 pm
Friends Meeting House
Ship Street

China’s rise – Strength and Fragili­ty is the first book being joint­ly pub­lished by Resis­tance Books, the IIRE and Mer­lin Press. Author Au Loong Yu will be vis­it­ing Britain from 12 to 22 Novem­ber to launch the book at meet­ings around the coun­try.
The book looks at the dra­mat­ic polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic devel­op­ments in China from a Marx­ist per­spec­tive. It argues that to under­stand China today it is also nec­es­sary to study the Chi­nese rev­o­lu­tion and it describes the unique social for­ma­tion that exists today in China as bureau­crat­ic cap­i­tal­ism.
By exam­in­ing the speci­fici­ties of Chi­nese soci­ety, and the strug­gles for democ­ra­cy and for improved con­di­tions, the authors show that Chi­nese bureau­crat­ic and repres­sive cap­i­tal­ism is begin­ning to exhaust its strength. China is increas­ing­ly rely­ing on rapid­ly expand­ing pub­lic debt. Strug­gles by Chi­nese work­ers sug­gest that they are begin­ning to over­come the demor­al­iza­tion inflict­ed by the crush­ing of the democ­ra­cy move­ment of 1989 and that they are build­ing up their con­fi­dence to fight against this unjust sys­tem.
It is not just the 1.3 bil­lion peo­ple who live in China whose futures will be at the very least pro­found­ly affect­ed by the future of such strug­gles – but all of those who live on this increas­ing­ly inter­de­pen­dent plan­et. If China seems to be every­where in the media at the minute, this speak­ing tour offers a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to find out more.

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Ash veterans of middle Sussex Visit them before they die

Ash veterans of middle Sussex

Visit them before they die

Dave Bangs, October 28th 2012 Tel: 01273 620 815

Don’t let anyone tell you that Ash is a second rate tree.

To be sure, it cannot make the size of ancient Oaks, Sweet Chestnut or Beech, but it can make magnificent giants of three spans and more trunk girth (a span being the stretch of my open arms...six feet). It can make the coppice stool holes that Marsh Tits love to nest in, and the sweetness of its trunks can bear a cloak of lichen in many colours and the greatest profusion.

It is as outgrown coppice and hedgerow stools that many of its most characterful trees now manifest themselves, and a quarter of all the old Ash trees we’ve recorded in the middle Sussex Weald (between the Adur and the Ouse) are coppice stools.

Yesterday we walked along the upper greensand scarp north of West Burton and Bignor Park, partly along the green lane past the slivers of woodland marked as Grevatt Wood on the map, and partly through the scarp slope woodland north of Bignor Roman Villa.

What extraordinary Ash giants we saw !!  Shortly after leaving the lane north of West Burton to walk the scarp top green lane we saw a huge Ash maiden of about three spans. Then, at top of the Brackeny slope, SU 998 147, due south of the visible, raised camber of Stane Street crossing the marshy ground below, we saw a magnificent pollard Ash, with great sprawling limbs and a coat of hoary lichen (much Parmelia perlata and others of the genus; many Pertusarias and grey crusts). It was over three spans in girth. Just westwards, at the point where Stane Street breasts the scarp top, there is another three span Ash, with a ‘geocache’ in a trunk rot hole.

On the scarp slope just west of the Bury - Bignor parish boundary there is another open wood, SU 991 150, with many fine Ash maidens – and a three span Oak. We counted four Ash giants, one over three span, and three over two span girth. There may be more.

That part of our walk was only about two thirds of a mile, yet we had found seven Ash veterans in that time, as well as abundant younger Ash and gnarled old hedgerow stools long outgrown their last plashing.

This is Ash is the rest of the Upper Greensand country and the Downs...and as is the clay land of the Low Weald and the Wadhurst Clay outcroppings of the High Weald.

If we lose Ash in these landscapes we lose their clothing and character.

On the greensand bench north of West Chiltington and Thakeham there are some fine veterans, like the nearly-three-span Ash at the top of the scarp east of Woodshill Farm, below the footpath, TQ 097 196, and the huge coppice hedgerow stools of the tiny lanes, valleys and holloways.

On the shrunken greensand bench east of Wiston, at the ghost farm at Buddington, TQ 162 122, on the top of the bank, there is a truly gigantic Ash veteran of 3.5 span girth, by my crude measuring.

On the Brighton Downs I love the whopping great Ash and its daughter at the northern end of the Crooked Moon Hedge, TQ 233 072, north of Holmbush. In the mother tree a swarm of Honey Bees was emerging from a rot hole when I first visited. There is another huge Ash veteran in the scarp bottom rew east of Ditchling Beacon, and north of Western Brow, TQ340 130...and when we first found it there was a colony of Honey Bees living in its bole, too.

At Ashcombe Bottom, south of Blackcap, on the site of the ancient Bocholt, where the Battle of Lewes was fought, there is a grove of several tall Ash trees which stand together on the parish boundary in the upper valley, TQ 371 121. They are not separate trees, but linked in a part circle by their roots...They are the outgrowths of a truly gigantic old coppice stool that must have marked this boundary for centuries. A Blackbird was quietly sitting her eggs in her bough cleft nest the last time I looked.

In the middle Sussex Weald between the Adur and the Ouse we have counted 36 veteran Ashes, but we have omitted many from our count because the sheer numbers of giant hedge and coppice stools make accurate recording difficult.

They include the huge old coppice stool of 12 big poles east of Lower Ryelands Bridge, on the bank of the Ouse, north of Lindfield, TQ 342 272...and the three span pollard Ash in a hedgerow east of Brantridge, TQ 292 301, in Balcombe parish...and the gnarled and crumbling old Ash pollard above the gill head, south east of Great Thorndean Farm, TQ 273 255.

They include the Rackhamesque three span Ash  just east of Christ’s Hospital station, TQ 148 291...and the four old Ashes - all of two spans and more - in and around High Wood, in the bend of the Arun’s upper waters, south of Broadbridge Heath...and the 2.5 span Ash just between Parthings and the railway line on the south west edge of Horsham, TQ 157 297.

A pox on all Condem/Libcon ministers and their corporate mates...and a pox on greedy nurseries and garden centres and their consumerist the expense of nature and of their grossly underpaid staff.

May they these Methuselahs...these great survivors...may be doomed by their neglect to rot...

Monday 22 October 2012

Video of Saturday's march

YouTube Video

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Saturday 20 October 2012

Pictures from today's march to follow

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

No justice sell-off!


Last Monday members of PCS working for courts in Brighton demonstrated against the threatened privatisation of much of the justice system. This could see companies like G4S getting their hands on enforcement of fines and fixed penalties.

Make sure crime doesn't pay for big business!

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Some types of squatting okay by hypocrite Weatherly

Hove Tory MP Mike Weatherley likes to go on about squatters.  He is quite the crusader when it comes to homeless people squatting empty unused property.

Strangely though he has a somewhat different attitude to organisations which squat the land of other people and dispossess those people of the means to make a living. 

Witness his strange reaction to the regular protests taking place outside the recently-opened EcoStream store in Western Road. 

He's even got the Israeli Embassy involved. He seems less keen on defending his constituents' right to protest. 

Report below from Tony Greenstein

Zion­ists try­ing to avoid anoth­er Ahava-like humil­i­a­tion

The stall did a roar­ing trade

One of the Bedouin slat­ed for removal from the land

Today, was the begin­ning of a large pick­et and stall out­side the Israeli shop Sodastream.  A num­ber of our oppo­nents, includ­ing two mad Chris­t­ian Fun­da­men­tal­ists, were on hand, but the vast major­i­ty of Brighton peo­ple pass­ing by gave us their sup­port and we ran out in 2 hours of over 500 leaflets.  There are a num­ber of pic­tures of our pick­et and also a video, whose qual­i­ty leaves a lot to be desired but gives a flavour of the exchanges.  
So suc­cess­ful though was our first out­ing that we’ve decid­ed that instead of mount­ing pick­ets every 2 weeks, as hap­pened at Ahava, we are going to do week­ly pick­ets of this Apartheid shop. 

Its brand­ing in Green Brighton is interesting.  It calls itself ‘Eco’ stream – part of an attempt to green­wash its activ­i­ties just as the Jew­ish Nation­al Fund calls itself an eco-friendly organ­i­sa­tion, build­ing all those forests and parks, even if they are on top of razed Arab vil­lages whose inhab­i­tants have been expelled from the West Bank!  But there is noth­ing eco friend­ly about Ecostream’s base and activ­i­ties. 

As the infor­ma­tion below shows, Sodas­tream is based in the Mishor Adu­mim indus­tri­al zone, which is part of the grow­ing num­ber of Jew­ish only set­tle­ments on the out­skirts of Jerusalem, Ma’ale Adu­mim. 

Amongst our oppo­nents was a Chris­t­ian Fun­da­men­tal­ist who claimed to live near­by, but was dis­turbed by our ‘offen­sive’ message.  His neig­bours described him as a 'w*****' and a mad Black female fun­da­men­tal­ist who seems to think Apartheid was and is ok, and 2 or 3 Zion­ists who repeat­ed the same hoary lines.  One of them at one point asked me ‘what about the 6 mil­lion’!  As if the dead at the hands of the Nazis jus­ti­fy fur­ther racism, as I asked what was the log­i­cal con­nec­tion. 
This is Sodas­tream’s first UK out­let and it is rumoured they have a 6 month lease.  It is incum­bent upon us to ensure that it is not renewed and Sodas­tream get the mes­sage that stolen goods from stolen land are not wel­come here.

Tony Green­stein 

Israeli apartheid prof­i­teer Sodas­tream opens new store in UK

August 22, 2012, Cor­po­rate Watch 

Sodas­tream, a car­bon­at­ed bev­er­age man­u­fac­tur­er, is based in the Mishor Adu­mim set­tle­ment indus­tri­al zone. Mishor Adu­mim is an indus­tri­al area  attached to the res­i­den­tial set­tle­ment of Ma’ale Adu­mim, East of  Jerusalem in the Israeli occu­pied West Bank. Israeli com­pa­ny Soda Club, which owns the Sodas­tream brand­name, has  opened a new store called Ecostream on West­ern Road in Brighton, UK.

How­ev­er, Pales­tini­ans liv­ing in the vil­lages around Mishor Adu­mim are pre­vent­ed from build­ing any per­ma­nent struc­ture under Israeli mil­i­tary  orders. Their tents and huts, and even a pri­ma­ry school at Khan-al-Ahmar, are sub­ject to demo­li­tion by the army 

The Israeli army plans to forcibly evict and trans­fer 20 Pales­tin­ian com­mu­ni­ties, some 2,300 peo­ple, from their homes in the area of the Ma’ale Adu­mim set­tle­ment bloc in the occu­pied West Bank. The plan aims to relo­cate the com­mu­ni­ties, a major­i­ty of which are Jahalin Bedouin, to a site about 300m away from the Jerusalem munic­i­pal garbage dump.  Israeli author­i­ties have not con­sult­ed with the com­mu­ni­ties and the res­i­dents oppose the move. Mil­i­tary offi­cials have said that the army will begin imple­ment­ing the plan in early 2012.  If car­ried out, this forced trans­fer would vio­late Israel’s oblig­a­tions under inter­na­tion­al law and uproot some of the poor­est com­mu­ni­ties in the West Bank. 

These build­ing restric­tions pre­vent the estab­lish­ment of any Pales­tin­ian busi­ness­es, mean­ing that local Pales­tini­ans are forced to work in the set­tle­ments. Pales­tin­ian agri­cul­ture is lim­it­ed by the set­tle­ments monop­oly on land and the restric­tions placed on the graz­ing of cat­tle, often lead­ing to the seizure of cat­tle by the army. 

Pales­tini­ans work­ing for Sodas­tream in Mishor Adu­mim are work­ing in the con­text of the occu­pa­tion. In Jan­u­ary 2012 activists from Stop Sodas­tream Italy made the fol­low­ing state­ment in response to claims by the com­pa­ny that its work­ers were well treat­ed: “the fact remains that, as sub­jects of an occu­pa­tion regime, these work­ers do not enjoy civil rights (includ­ing the right of work­ers to orga­nize) and are under con­stant threat of hav­ing their per­mits to work in the set­tle­ment revoked by the com­pa­ny at any moment.” 

“Pales­tin­ian work­ers often have no choice but to work in the set­tle­ments, with high unem­ploy­ment rates that are a direct result of the Israeli occu­pa­tion. The 2011 Unit­ed Nations Con­fer­ence on Trade and Devel­op­ment report explic­it­ly links the decline in Pales­tin­ian agri­cul­tur­al and indus­tri­al sec­tors and the dire human­i­tar­i­an con­di­tions with Israeli gov­ern­ment poli­cies, in par­tic­u­lar the con­fis­ca­tion of land and nat­ur­al resources, restric­tions on move­ment of peo­ple and goods, and iso­la­tion from inter­na­tion­al mar­kets. Only a colo­nial mind­set could claim to pro­vide jobs to the very same peo­ple whose land and free­dom have been stolen.” 
Bedouin tent slat­ed for removal
The Pales­tin­ian call for boy­cott, divest­ment and sanc­tions urges a boy­cott of all Israeli com­pa­nies until Israel com­plies with inter­na­tion­al human­i­tar­i­an law, rec­og­nizes the fun­da­men­tal rights of the Arab-Palestinian cit­i­zens of Israel to full equal­i­ty, the rights of return of refugees and ends the siege of Gaza and the occu­pa­tion of all lands occu­pied in 1967. 

Sodas­tream prod­ucts are sold in the UK at Robert Dyas, John Lewis, Argos, Comet, Lake­land and some Sains­bury and Asda stores.

For more infor­ma­tion on Soda Club see here, pages 96-102. 

Monday 1 October 2012

Get on board the train for a future that works!


The war of Mick Jagger's bus pass

One of the more risible announcements to come out of Lib Dem Conference was the revival of the notion that there are millions of "wealthy" people out there who should not be receiving benefits, that there are somehow shedloads of savings to made if we just means-tested universal benefits, particular those which go to pensioners.

Invariably , the example of some rich famous person will be wheeled out, supposedly to justify this position.  Sometimes it might be Mick Jagger, or maybe Alan Sugar - super-rich older people who theoretically could get certain benefits like bus passes and winter fuel payments - you can just see Mick queuing up at the town hall for a bus pass can't you?

In reality, significant savings are only possible if these cuts are carried well down the income scale. So all Nick Clegg has achieved is to worry thousands of low-income pensioners that they are about to lose benefits which help to make life reasonably civilised.

The other point which is always overlooked is the cost of actually means-testing benefits - a whole bureaucracy would need to be set up to administer it.   These benefits operate efficiently and simply - they are cheap to administer.   If we want rich people to pay their way, making sure they pay their proper share of tax would be a more appropriate start - yet the Lib Dems have voted to give a massive tax cut to the richest.  And of course we all know which group gets the biggest non means tested subsidy for transport and household expenses......don't we?

Sunday 23 September 2012

East Brighton by-election - vote for the only anti-cuts candidate

Brighton City Council Byelection: Jon Redford selected as TUSC candidate

At the meeting on Tuesday 18 Sept 2012, Brighton TUSC decided to contest the vacant Brighton Council seat of East Brighton ward. This ward is a heavily working classs and council estate ward, including the Whitehawk and Manor Hill estates. It is Labour held.
The byelection will be held on Thursday 18 October. Our candidate is Jon Redford of the Socialist Party. He was seleted unanimously. At the selection meeting there were 4 SP memebers, 3 Socialist Resistance, 1 ISN (Independent Socialist Network) and 1 non-aligned socialist.
Paul Moorhouse is acting as election agent. Nomination papers have been accepted by the council today.
The Election Campaign.
We will be canvassing regularly from next Tuesday. All offers of help welcome! The first canvas will be on Tuesday 25th September. We will be meeting at 6.00 pm outside the main entrance to the County Hospital on Eastern Road (by the bus stops). We hope to canvas two nights a week (normally on Tuesday and Thursday) and on Sunday afternoons. Leaflets are already being produced.
The three main issues we will be campaigning on are: 
1) The threatened closure of care homes for people with learning disabilities
2) The proposal by the Green council to cut council tax benefit for people of working age
3) The need to build a united resistance to cuts and austerity, in particular by building for the October 20th demonstration so as to build pressure on the TUC for a one day general strike, and buidling stronger links between TUSC and trade union branches in Brighton. 
Regular weekly campaign meetings will be held after the Tuesday canvas. PaulMoorhouse\'s phone number if anyone needs details is 07934-535-986

Toads Hole Valley...down the plughole?

Dave Bangs writes.....


A decade ago local residents and countryside activists - including Green Party activists - campaigned for the inclusion of Toads Hole Valley and the rest ofthe Brighton downland fringe in a new National Park of the South Downs.


Aided bGreen Party councillor Pete West, a coalition of all the Greeand Tory Party councillors, plus two pro-downland Labour councillors, won the full Council vote to recommend an inclusive boundary to the National Park right up to the edge of the built-up area, taking in Toads Hole Valley, Whitehawk Hill, Sheepcote Valley and much more...


Later, the National Park Public Inquiry Inspector included Toads Hole Valley in his recommended Park boundary, submitted to the secretary of state.


We thought we had succeeded...and so we should have...for the case was open-and-shut...


Toads Hole Valley is a ‘pinch point’ on the long chain of the South Downs...almost thenarrowest point on the whole open downland chain...which is here reduced to a mere 2.6 miles wide. It is the point at which the integrity of the down landscape is most threatened.


Toads Hole Valley is thoroughly inter-visible with the rest of the open 1.5 mile WestBlatchington Valle(of which it is a part) all the way up to the Dyke Golf Course. Development at Toads Hole will bring serious visual damage to the wider National Parkdowns at the point where they are most vulnerable.


The A27 bypass – remarkably - does NOT constitute a major visual intrusion to thisdownland valley...and the whole downland valley is protected from the visual intrusion of the built up area by the spur of Snakey Hill (King George V1 Avenue).


Toads Hole Valley had long been judged as of National Park quality, because it was part of the Sussex Downs AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) in which landscape standards are the same as National Parks.


HOWEVER, a second National Park Public Inquiry to re-address boundary issues (chiefly in the western Weald) reversed the decision to include Toads Hole Valley.


NOW the Valley landowners and Green Party developmentalist councillors are having a field day


Their mad plans make NO MENTION that Toads Hole Valley was judged to be of National Park standard and is a critical part of that wider, inter-visible National Park landscape.


The plans cram built development all up the most highly inter-visible parts of the valley...on the higher ground of the Snakey Hill spur and up by Court Farm.


They put new greenspace (in the school grounds and next to the SNCI slope) down in the most sheltered (visually and aurally) part of the valley...the reverse of any rational policy of amelioration of the wider landscape damage...which would keep all the higher groundopen.


They cram a major road along the bottom of the Toads Hole SNCI slope and shave off itssouthern tip to accommodate that road – and shove in a mess of cycle ways, zig-zagpaths, and a funicular railway.  


AND THEY CRAM, CRAM, CRAM !!!...700 houses, an industrial estate, a school, a community hub, and an even longer version of the busy Snakey Hill road,


Why all thimadness ?...What is the wider context ?


A hyper-developing south eastern region, where the best rural landscapes and the greatestnational biodiversity are threatened with destruction, PLUS a low wage economy, PLUSsevere housing stress exacerbated by inter-regional migration of the well-off  in search of pleasure and the poor in search of jobs...WHILST the peripheral regions and poorer countries suffer under-development and regression.


These patterns of uneven development are an inherent feature of capitalism, and bring with them misery and environmental destruction.


They must be challenged and not pandered to.


A sustainable future for both Brighton and the South Downs depends onredistribution and the strictest environmental protection, NOTdevelopmentalism and cosmetic environmentalism...


60% of this development’s housing is to be not affordable...and most affordable’ housing is not truly affordable.


Yet 100% of this development will be environmentally damaging.


Over twenty years ago Hove planners rejected the idea of housing on Old Shoreham Road at the bottom of Benfield Valley because of the road’s noise and air pollution...NOW the Green Party proposes housing next to the Brighton Bypass with much greater traffic levels, noise and fumes...


Organise the community take-over and clean-up of the neglected and abused Valley. Wefirst did that nine years ago...and were praised by the National Park Public Inquiry Inspector for our efforts.









Dave Bangs Tel: 01273 620 815 September 2012

Co-leader Brighton and Hove Community Wildlife Groups National Park Campaign 2002-4

Co-leader Brighton and Hove Defend Council Housing 2004-7