Squatters move into former bank in Clifton
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.
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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.