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Hackney GP backs squatters fighting eviction from abandoned school

PUBLISHED: 15:52 22 July 2011 | UPDATED: 16:17 22 July 2011

Dr Jonathan Tomlinson outside the squat at St John's Nursery. Hackney. Sat 16th July 2011

Dr Jonathan Tomlinson outside the squat at St John's Nursery. Hackney. Sat 16th July 2011

Copyright Peter Gettins

A Hackney GP has condemned council moves to evict ‘considerate’ squatters living in an abandoned school.

A Hackney GP has condemned council moves to evict ‘considerate’ squatters living in an abandoned school.

Jonathon Tomlinson, who works at the Lawson practice in Nuttall Street, said town hall attempts this week to remove his next-door neighbours were immoral.

The squatters have been living in the old St John’s nursery, next to Jonathon’s family home in Mare Street, for a month.

The building has been sitting empty after the closure of the nursery amid angry protest in 2002 and then St John’s Pupil Referral Unit on the site a year ago. It is now being considered for demolition.

The council, which is the current landlord, was took take legal action on Tuesday (July 19) to evict the occupiers.

And the government announced plans last week to make squatting a criminal offence.

But father-of-two Jonathon, 39, has backed the group, calling them ‘the best next-door neighbours’ he could ask for.

“Since the school next door was closed over a year ago it has been completely neglected, the building is rotting and the garden completely overgrown,” he said.

“When our neighbours started squatting last month, they introduced themselves to us and invited us around to see what they were doing with the building and grounds.

“We were delighted to see that they are taking care of where they are living and considerate of us, their next-door neighbours. For the first time since we have been living here, we have the security of neighbours we can trust.

“I believe that to evict them and use council money to pay security guards to man the gates while the building rots would be criminal, if not in the legal sense, then most certainly morally.”

His appeal has been backed by Rev Rob Wickham, rector of St John’s Church, who said he was “grateful to the people temporarily living in the old Nursery, as this provides security for both the churchyard and the tenants living in the Old Rectory”.

A council spokeswoman said: “Like any other large property owner, the council takes action when there has been unlawful occupation of its buildings or land and deals with such incidents on a case by case basis.”

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