Squatters move into former bank in Clifton

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Tue Oct 9 11:42:07 BST 2012

Squatters move into former bank in Clifton
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - by Pamela Parkes
A group of squatters have moved into a former bank in Clifton.
They moved into the large building at 131, 
Pembroke Road in the early hours of Sunday morning.
They claim they gained entry through an open 
window at the back of the property.
Lloyds TSB have confirmed it is their building - 
and the squatters claim the company hold the leasehold for it until 2018.
They say it was used as a private bank by Lloyds, 
and that the freehold is owned by Coventry Diocese Finance Board.
Police attended on Sunday afternoon, but left 
after confirming no damage had been caused to the 
building, it was a commercial property and the occupation was a civil matter.
The squatters claim a security company also 
attended the building but that no action to remove them had been taken.
In a statement the squatters said: "We needed a 
place to live as our last squat is being evicted. 
This building was too good to miss.
"We'd like to reassure our new neighbours our 
temporary stay here will not be causing them any noise or nuisance.
"As a group of homeless people with no money 
we're enjoying getting one back at the financial 
system which always seems to get public money 
thrown at it when they're in trouble."
Simon Jones is one of the squatters occupying the building.
In this video he claims the number of empty 
office buildings in the city could be put to use 
to house homeless people, and says squatting, for 
the majority of people, is not a lifestyle choice:
A woman who lives near the squat, but who does 
not want to be named, said:“I suppose I do 
disagree with the balance of power that the banks 
have got and this is another way of making a point.”
A resident who lives across the road said: “Not 
everyone shares similar views, especially round 
here, but how can I be against it? People need 
somewhere to live. My personal opinion will not 
go along with the general consensus I know that 100 per cent.
“Not all the neighbours are supportive but 
everyone had a different view. Some people think 
how squatters have always been treated with 
stigma but my parents came from another country 
for a better life so I always have an open mind 
with anyone who is fighting a cause, but to me it 
has to have a purpose and meaning behind it.
"If they leave the place in a mess and trash it 
then nothing has been achieved and to me that is pointless.”
In the past two years, squatters have occupied a 
number of buildings in Bristol, including the 
house known as “Telepathic Heights” on Cheltenham 
Road, Clifton Wood House, 19 Berkeley Square in 
Clifton, 66 Queen Square, the “Red Factory” on 
Portland Square and the Hobgoblin on the 
Gloucester Road when it was awaiting refurbishment.
A new law came into force last month which means 
that people who occupy residential properties 
without permission could be jailed for six 
months’ and/or be fined up to £5,000, as it is 
now a criminal offence in England and Wales.
In the past, squatting was a civil matter, only 
attracting police intervention if criminality was suspected.
But it is understood that the property in 
Pembroke Road is classed as a commercial property 
and therefore is not affected by the new law.

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