Stokey squatters occupy old Barry's Biscuits building 'to protest against gentrification'
PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 June 2017 | UPDATED: 08:38 13 June 2017
Homeless people have taken over the Barry's Biscuits building in Stoke Newington High Street to protest against gentrification and the pricing out of working-class people from Hackney.
The group of people had originally moved into Anita House nearby, which had been an NHS mental health clinic for 25 years until the landlord doubled the rent this year.
They moved out because the NHS would have otherwise have been charged £25,000 for staying past the end of its contract – but not before spotting the chance to squat the Georgian building opposite.
A spokesman for the squatters said: “We saw Barry’s Biscuits and saw it was totally open, totally empty and totally stripped. They are trying to turn it into luxury flats.
“It’s being left to rot while there are gangs of homeless people sleeping in Abney Park. There are groups of people all over that area who are homeless, and have addiction and mental health issues.
“We’ve been evicted almost constantly for the last six months. We are a community of vulnerable people and we move around from building to building.
“We are very much in favour of direct action to house people and give them some sense of stability so they can gather themselves and recover and make the changes they want to.”
He continued: “Everyone in London knows the number of rough sleepers has gone through the ceiling. It’s connected to gentrification and the attitude of people saying an NHS building that’s been there 20 years can be turned into luxury flats.”
The group has been in the building since Wednesday, but an agent for the building’s owner told the Gazette there are plans to evict them within a fortnight.
He said: “It’s not their building, and it’s not their business what the landlord has done to it.
“They are in someone else’s building and they need to go. There are neighbours who aren’t happy that they are noisy and they are keeping dogs at the back.
“They shouldn’t think for one second they have a long run there. They should go and live normally like we all do and not try to live on our conscience.”
It is a criminal offence to evict squatters forcibly, and owners must make an interim possession order to gain control of their property through the courts.