Group of squatters leave 'awful mess' at Hobgoblin pub on Gloucester Road, Bristol
A GROUP of nearly 20 squatters were evicted from a Bristol pub by the police – and their own mothers.
Two parents arrived hot on the heels of officers when 18 mostly young people were found inside the Hobgoblin pub on Gloucester Road yesterday.
They helped get their offspring out of the building, which has been closed since last week for refurbishment.
Passers by stopped to take pictures as the squatters played music in the street with some lying down in front of police cars.
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Others asked a nearby charity shop if they could borrow bags for their belongings.
Some of them admitted they were part of the recently evicted Clifton Wood mansion squat, and received their marching orders from the pub on the corner of Gloucester Road and Overton Road at 10am yesterday.
The pub had been closed and boarded up since last Wednesday, so its owners Enterprise Inns could find a new leaseholder and carry out refurbishment.
Alan Etheridge, senior regional manager, told the Post he arrived at 9.30am to show a potential new leaseholder around.
"When I arrived at the pub I found that the padlock to the back gate had been cut," he said.
"I pushed open the gate and heard a dog barking inside, which obviously aroused my suspicions.
"At first I called our legal team to get advice and then our security company to check that the property had been properly locked up and secured last week.
"They said it had been so when I knew there had been forced entry I called the police saying I thought burglars were inside."
When police arrived they found around 18 squatters, thought to be in their late teens and 20s, living inside.
Officers also found two dogs and extensive damage to the rooms inside the two-storey property and its cellar, with empty glasses, food containers, clothes and mattresses strewn on the floors.
There were containers of white spirit and gas canisters in various rooms.
Mr Etheridge said the squatters were "amicable" and that there was "no animosity" between them and the police at first. "It was never a threatening situation," he said.
"Police seemed to be chatting and discussing the situation with them.
"When the police inspector arrived he said that they could be evicted due to the forced entry and police started evicting the squatters.
Mr Etheridge told the Post one young squatter had climbed out of a first-floor window onto the roof before his parents arrived to tell him to get down and said they were very disappointed with him.
Another mother, 50-year-old Anita Elson from Withywood, arrived at the pub to find her 17-year-old daughter Poppy who had been squatting in the building.
Mrs Elson said she had been following her daughter for more than a month to various squat evictions.
"She was in college before she met this group of people," she said. "I do this every time they get evicted because I want to know where she is.
"There isn't any need for it – she has a perfectly good home."
Once the squatters were evicted from the property the group congregated on the pavement in Overton Road and refused to move on.
One dreadlocked squatter played Judy Garland's hit Get Happy on a saxophone while others played a guitar and a drum.
The young group sat on the pavement surrounded by mattresses, suitcases, rucksacks and pillows.
One young squatter, who held up a piece of paper with squatters' rights printed on it, said: "This eviction was completely illegal.
"The police are trying to say we broke into the building.
"We were let into the building – they have caused the damage."
Other squatters refused to speak to the Post, claiming the paper was part "of the system".
Speaking after the eviction, Inspector Mark Holford said there was a lot of damage inside and that the occupiers had been using the water and gas.
"They have been trying to put locks on doors and have been causing damage to floor boards, furniture and there are beds smashed and doors damaged," he said.
Mr Etheridge added: "The squatters have left an awful mess, which will have to be sorted out before we can show anyone else around the property."
Passersby and residents stopped in the street to take pictures of the squatters with one comparing the atmosphere to "a carnival".
Isabel Ball, 40, who lives in nearby Tyne Road, watched the eviction unfold from across the street.
"You can see all the theatre of it from here," she said.
"It looks like the police have managed it very well and the squatters haven't taken it to heart.
"It's lovely to see the police chilled – they aren't being intimidatory."
A local trader, who did not wish to be named, had not been aware there were squatters in the building until police arrived.
"One by one the squatters came out, but there has been no drama," he said.
Gemma Fisher, 25, manager of the Cancer Research charity shop opposite the pub, said: "They came in and borrowed some bags to take their stuff out of the pub.
"They were quite polite when they came in."
A police spokeswoman said one man had been arrested for a public order offence and that an investigation into the forced entry continues.