Inspector Rhys Hughes leads Illegal Bristol eviction

Gerrard Winstanley office at
Mon Jan 12 00:00:57 GMT 2009

Squatters evicted from Bristol premises

Friday, January 09, 2009, 22:17

7 readers have commented on this story.

Police were called to Shepherds' Hall at 3pm on Friday, after security
men employed by the leaseholder went into the 100-year-old building,
which is linked to a six-bedroom house.

Seven police cars and a van attended the eviction.

Fifteen men and women had been living in the 12-room building since
December, and claimed they had not been served with an official court
order to leave.

The police stressed that in their view the eviction had been carried
out legally.

Squatter Sven Zimmerman, 37, said: "At around 3pm, one guy
representing the owners of the building kicked down the door.

"Then the police entered and 15 people were kicked out.

"It's the middle of January and it's freezing. We've had no warning.

"The building is unoccupied, and according to the statistics there are
twice as many empty houses as homeless people.

"Because of the economic crisis landlords aren't making any money so
they're leaving these buildings derelict, in the middle of a terrible

"We will try and find somewhere else to go but some people will end up
sleeping on the streets."

Mr Zimmerman said Bristol's homeless problem could be solved if every
derelict building across the city was allowed to be used by squatters
rather than standing empty.

He added that the group would have been happy to leave if a court
order was served on them.

Shepherds' Hall is owned by a company called Group 22 but has been
leased out to others who took action to evict the squatters, who had
been using the building to practise circus skills.

Ben White, from Bristol, who has been helping the group but not living
in the dance hall, said: "They are evicting homeless people on one of
the coldest days of the year.

"The building had been empty for a number of years. The men and women
living there fixed the roof and the plumbing to make it habitable.
I've no idea where they will go now."

Robert Hancock is the landlord at the Long Bar, a pub next to the squat.

He said: "Of course we knew people were living there, but we've not
had any problems with them.

"They've been in there since the beginning of December."

Avon and Somerset Police Inspector Rhys Hughes said: "We were there to
keep the peace. There was a report someone might be in the building
and it was thought there might be a disturbance but we go to these
kinds of things anyway.

"I understand the owner took back the property legally.

"There was a bit of a crowd but I understand there were no issues."

The Post was unable to contact any representatives from Group 22 or
the leaseholder last night.

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