Squatters in Stokes Croft, Bristol, protest over eviction threat

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Thu Jun 23 21:32:47 BST 2011

Squatters in Stokes Croft, Bristol, protest over eviction threat
Thursday, June 23, 2011 - Bristol Evening Post
pictures here
PROTESTERS gathered at a building in Stokes Croft 
where squatters were due to be evicted.
Bailiffs served notice that they intended to move 
in to take possession of the Bristol Freeshop, 
neighbouring art gallery the Emporium and flats above them at 11am yesterday.
The two shop units at 35–37 Stokes Croft have 
been run as a charity shop and art gallery by volunteers for several years.
The owners of the building have won a court 
possession order to take back the neglected property.
But supporters of the squatters and volunteers 
running the art gallery and shop, who say they 
have put years of work into improving the 
building, gathered outside yesterday in anticipation of bailiffs arriving.
Three people, including one man wearing a mask 
and another wearing a scarf over his face, 
climbed onto the roof and acknowledged other 
supporters as loud music was played from a sound system inside the building.
Although bailiffs did not arrive during the day 
activists were calling on supporters to help hinder access by bailiffs.
Some people are claiming on an online forum that 
barricades had been erected inside the building, 
which is a stone's throw from Telepathic Heights, 
the squat in Cheltenham Road at the centre of 
rioting in April when police raided it to foil an 
alleged raid plotted on the Tesco Express store opposite.
It is understood the owners of the building 
bailiffs want to repossess intend to put it up for auction.
However, the group of people running the Emporium 
art gallery and the Freeshop, which gives donated 
items away without charge, want to buy it and 
have made an offer of £150,000 to the building's 
owners, understood to be a Hong Kong-based group called Jerwood Trading.
The volunteers have put together their bid with a 
housing co-operative. They want to retain the art 
gallery, which offers space to local artists to 
exhibit their work, and Freeshop, which stands on 
the site of the former Classic's dress wear shop, 
on the ground floor of the property, creating 
low-cost housing on the upper floors, currently occupied by eight squatters.
Tony Gosling, who has been giving the volunteers 
legal advice, said he had not received a response 
from Jerwood Trading's solicitors about the 
offer. He said the property had lain derelict for 
about 15 years before it was taken over by squatters four years ago.
Bristol City Council is understood to have spent 
£67,000 in emergency repairs on the building.
Mr Gosling said: "During the possession court 
case last year, the judge praised the work the 
groups were doing in there. These guys have put 
three or four years' work into the building – 
it's been used to help poor local people.
"The supporters of these projects feel it's an 
important counterbalance to the Tesco up the 
other end of the road, and we would like to see a 
deal done with the owner for a community use."


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poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung

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