Squatters at Bedford House in Shoreditch have been preparing for the worst overnight, as they will face eviction by bailiffs today. Some have packed up their belongings, while many others have been holding a final protest that has lasted all night and will continue into the day. EastLondonLines will be reporting live from the squat as events are unfolding.
Tensions pervade the usually relaxed Shoreditch squatting community. Stress and worry is rife throughout the warehouse’s maze of corridors tonight, as many of these young Londoners could face homelessness today. At least three of the original East London collective have taken up residence at alternative addresses in the last week. The majority of the rebellious “tenants” have taken last night in their stride, however, as they gathered to spray paint and stencils, and added another street-art-esque piece to the extensive installations that adorn Bedford House. In the face of adversity, their commitments remain deeply embedded in creativity – the idea of bringing something new and exciting to the Shoreditch community.
“We’ve noticed an increasing police presence in the last few days,” says Connie Hart, who has squatted in the property for four months. “We’re not leaving without a fight though. We’ve all expected this from the beginning.”
A previous court ruling has put the official eviction time at 9am, but the Bedford House squatters are taking no chances – people remaining at the building have been preparing the barricades since 5am this morning.
For some background on the Bedford House squat please see yesterday’s report here.
Here is today’s rolling blog of news and events as it comes in:
11.30am: Tabby just sent us a text, saying: “Bags of packed up stuff and bicycles, matresses, furniture, wires, sound systems, clothes and kitchen stuff are lining Quaker street. There is an acknowledgement that this is over, but spirits are still high among people that have been outside all morning. People from inside seem defeated, upset, but the general sense is that they will just move on to another place.”
11.12am: The baillifs have the front door wide open and people are leaving the squat with suitcases.
11.01am: Tabby reports: “The bailiffs are inside and it seems to be kicking off. The squatters inside are making a lot of noise. Police are staying ‘to make sure the bailiffs don’t get assaulted.’ One bailiff comes out and with his hands shaking: ‘You can’t beat an adrenaline rush like this.”
10.55am: Whilst the bailiffs are through the second layer of metal doors, a report from Tabby is coming in. She has just spoken to the neighbour, 48-year-old Derrick Robinson, who told EastLondonLines that the owner of the building, whose identity is currently unknown to us, wants to develop the property but has not been given permission by Tower Hamlets council as the building is grade II listed. Robinson, who pays £2,000 per month for his flat, told us that the owner is letting the building rot until the council let him develop the property. EastLondonLines has contacted Tower Hamlets Council for a reaction.
10.43am: Baillifs are having a tough time trying to axe through the metal doors, there appears to be a third layer of security metal. Tabby texts: “These are the most resourceful and professional squatters ever! Four police are currently guarding the entrance and more are loitering around, the mood amongst the squatters and their supporters is generally upbeat.”
10.31am: The bailiffs are almost in, have axed and prized open the green factory shutter at the front of the building. There is no sign of the 10 or so people that are still inside. People are singing Amy Winehouse’s rehab song: “No, no, no”. Police have called for back up as there are too many people outside the squat.
10.14am: Tabby reports: “A 26 year-old woman climbed onto the porch of the back door, police then moved her off. She is crying, saying the police are making her homeless.”
10.05am: Police and bailiffs have arrived and are trying to break in with axes.
9.55am: A 35-year-old Spanish man who calls himself Mr Squattee, says: “Squatting helped me out a lot, for example I did not have to deal with a lot of stressful bureaucracy to get housing, which gave me time to balance myself. I used to fix computers, bikes and now I try to fix people. Many people are lost and there is not a lot of happy people I meet. The point I am making is that we need some kind of alternative to the bureaucracy we live in, something open, because there are different people who need different things.”
9.44am: “We’ve noticed an increasing police presence in the last few days,” says Connie Hart, 23, who has squatted in the property for four months. “We’re not leaving without a fight though. We’ve all expected this from the beginning.”
9.30am: Amman, 34, an Albanian man who works in the car wash opposite Bedford House, says: “I don’t know them. They seem ok but they make too much noise.” When Tabby tells him about the impending eviction, he says: “Good! I’m glad, people shouldn’t be living in a house like that for free.”
9.15am: Tabby reports: “Locksmiths have turned up, but no bailiffs as of yet. Ten people are inside and a group of 25 people, with a dog, are outside.”
8.08am: Tabby Kinder is our reporter at the squat this morning. She reports: “About 9 people are outside the front door of the building, banging on it. It seems that there is some kind of internal eviction going on, with the original squatters kicking out guests, perhaps to legitimise the blockade? A Spanish girl is banging on the huge metal door, screaming about wanting her stuff. So far no bailiffs or police to be seen.”
Reporting by Tabby Kinder