Stokes Croft article from Bristol Evening Post June 23 2011
Squatters in Stokes Croft, Bristol, protest over eviction threat Thursday, June 23, 2011 – Bristol Evening Post pictures here
PROTESTERS gathered at a building in Stokes Croft where squatters were due to be evicted.
Bailiffs served notice that they intended to move in to take possession of the Bristol Freeshop, neighbouring art gallery the Emporium and flats above them at 11am yesterday.
The two shop units at 35?37 Stokes Croft have been run as a charity shop and art gallery by volunteers for several years.
The owners of the building have won a court possession order to take back the neglected property.
But supporters of the squatters and volunteers running the art gallery and shop, who say they have put years of work into improving the building, gathered outside yesterday in anticipation of bailiffs arriving.
Three people, including one man wearing a mask and another wearing a scarf over his face, climbed onto the roof and acknowledged other supporters as loud music was played from a sound system inside the building.
Although bailiffs did not arrive during the day activists were calling on supporters to help hinder access by bailiffs.
Some people are claiming on an online forum that barricades had been erected inside the building, which is a stone’s throw from Telepathic Heights, the squat in Cheltenham Road at the centre of rioting in April when police raided it to foil an alleged raid plotted on the Tesco Express store opposite.
It is understood the owners of the building bailiffs want to repossess intend to put it up for auction.
However, the group of people running the Emporium art gallery and the Freeshop, which gives donated items away without charge, want to buy it and have made an offer of £150,000 to the building’s owners, understood to be a Hong Kong-based group called Jerwood Trading.
The volunteers have put together their bid with a housing co-operative. They want to retain the art gallery, which offers space to local artists to exhibit their work, and Freeshop, which stands on the site of the former Classic’s dress wear shop, on the ground floor of the property, creating low-cost housing on the upper floors, currently occupied by eight squatters.
Tony Gosling, who has been giving the volunteers legal advice, said he had not received a response from Jerwood Trading’s solicitors about the offer. He said the property had lain derelict for about 15 years before it was taken over by squatters four years ago.
Bristol City Council is understood to have spent
£67,000 in emergency repairs on the building.
Mr Gosling said: “During the possession court case last year, the judge praised the work the groups were doing in there. These guys have put three or four years’ work into the building ? it’s been used to help poor local people.
“The supporters of these projects feel it’s an important counterbalance to the Tesco up the other end of the road, and we would like to see a deal done with the owner for a community use.”