Wednesday, August 27, 2008

300 Squatters Forced Out Of Homes They Were Taking Over!!!

Police helped force out a large group of squatters who took over a block of flats on a road lined with £1 million houses after a string of complaints about rowdy late night rave parties from furious neighbors.


Upmarket homeowners told how 300 illegal occupants took over a neighboring block of flats - holding all-night rave parties, lighting bonfires and playing loud music.

Residents slammed council officials for failing to secure the homes, which they say have been made into a rubbish tip, strewn with broken furniture and beer bottles, and covered in graffiti - since the freeloaders moved in en masse in March this year.

According to residents police visited the squat on Tuesday night telling them they had to leave and since then they have been packing their things.

Today the squatters have been moving out in a slow trickle and there has been no trouble. Pensioner Barbara Glosby, 70, who lives next to the squat, said: 'I'm so glad they are leaving. 'Week after week I couldn't get any sleep between 7pm and 5.30am. They were diabolical. 'I've called the noise control eight times and I've visited the Town Hall, but after six months nothing was done about this. But thankfully they're going now.'

Although the council has finally acted and evicted the squatters from the block, in Clapham, South London, residents want to know how much it will cost them to clean up the mess left behind. The four blocks, which were being used as temporary accommodation, were due to be returned to a private owner when the lease expired in April.


But the squatters, including around 100 young Polish men, took residence in the 45 flats just before the handover after hearing it was empty by word of mouth. Following the squatters moving in Lambeth Council immediately helped Addington rentals begin court proceedings to remove the illegal tenants eventually securing today as the eviction date.

Lambeth council in London had said it could not return the apartments to the unnamed owners until the premises had been vacated - leaving the council with a rent bill estimated at £40,000 a month. The total cost to taxpayers, including legal fees and repairing any damage, is likely to be close to £500,000.

Dave McAvoy, chairman of the residents association for the Weir Estate next to the squat, said: 'The squatters have blighted residents lives, particularly the people who live closer to the property. 'They've had late night parties and music going on until the early hours. 'Locals have told me they've had so many sleepless nights especially at weekends - they've had to put up with so much noise. 'We are delighted to see this come to an end. The time has come for local residents to enjoy some peace and quiet. 'It has been going on for far too long. Obviously we bear these people no ill feeling but it's the way they have become part of the community but have given other locals no consideration. That's the big problem.'

Dulce Lopes, 31, a mother who lives across the road, said the quiet residential area had been devastated by the squatters.


She said: 'It feels more dangerous here now. It's very dirty and there are a lot of shady people hanging around opposite my house. Some of them look like punks, they are very strange.
'There are cars and people coming and going in the middle of the night. Sometimes we feel scared because we don't know what they're going to do.'
Another neighbour, a father of two young children who did not want to be named, said: 'The noise is absolutely unbelievable and it continues late into the night. They are all drinking and no doubt taking drugs.
'It's a nightmare living next door to all that. I can't wait until they are evicted.' The squatters have defended their right to occupy the flats and said they have offered to pay some rent. One squatter, who did not wish to be named, moved into the flats around four months ago when she was nine months pregnant. She said: 'My partner and child and I have nowhere to live at the minute. I don't want to squat any more because of my child. 'I have lots of sympathy for the locals.
'It's been bad for me too - my baby is very young and I have asked people to stop their music too.'Squatting is a hard life - I have just finished my last year at university, have just given birth and also have been trying to work to get some money.'

Another squatter called Sasha, 25, a full-time performing arts student, said: 'I've been squatting for five years and I've been in this place for a few months. Most of us work together and try and keep the place in good condition - this is our home after all.'I've known for a while we were going to have to move out so we organised a new squat, but unfortunately the council have already stopped us from moving in so I will have to find somewhere else.

'This squat is made up of a huge variety of people - families, people who work as well as students, but we're not scroungers.

'There are people from all around the place - English people, people from other parts of the UK as well as from Italy, Spain, Poland, South Africa, north and south America, Canada, Germany, Mauritius - from everywhere.'

Another squatter Eugene, 32, said: 'I've got a four-month-old baby.'We can't afford £1,000 a month to rent a flat privately. Many of the people here would be happy to pay some money to live here but the council won't even talk to us.'They just want us out as soon as possible, so they can give the place back to the owners. I think they want to redevelop it.

'There's a community of us here, lots of families and children. We just want to live our lives in peace.' A Lambeth Council spokeswoman said: 'We share the concerns of local residents and have done all we can to help the property owners to remove squatters from Limerick Court as quickly as possible.

'Unfortunately, like any crime, squatting is an illegal and antisocial activity that results in a cost to the tax payer and incidents like this raise a general debate on how property owners everywhere can evict squatters swiftly given the current powers available.

'Residents were being moved to new homes following the end of our lease at Limerick Court and we were due to return the premises to its owners but, despite the steps we took to secure the property, it was squatted en masse.

'We worked with the property owners to immediately set legal processes to get a possession order, and eviction has been taking place today.'

Jeremy Clyne, a local opposition councillor, said it was a 'scandal' the authority had wasted so much money on continuing to pay rent after its bungled handover of the estate.

He said: 'To handle this so badly that the council lost control of a whole set of blocks is just not good enough. The council need to put a stop to this now.'

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