Seven bailiffs, acting as “Representatives of the Owner”, wasted no time in descending on Brick by Brick’s former offices in George Street on Saturday afternoon to evict the squatters who had been occupying the building for almost two weeks.
A group calling themselves “Reclaim Croydon” had been squatting the five-storey building in protest against the dire housing situation in the borough.
The building had been subject to an elaborate, and expensive, refurbishment when Brick by Brick took it on for a showroom (with no homes to sell) and offices under a 10-year lease from landowners the Whitgift Foundation.
Brick by Brick spent more than £1million on leasing the building and refurbishing it to their bosses’ expensive tastes. Brick by Brick is being wound-up, the failed housing company having bankrupted their owners, Croydon Council, after receiving £200million in loans over the course of five spendthrift years, while they had delivered just three council homes in that time.
The building had remained pretty much unoccupied and unused from March 2020, at the start of the covid pandemic, until the formal closure and departure six months ago.
Last Friday, Croydon County Court issued an Interim Possession Order. The following afternoon the seven heavies descended on the squat, breaking the doors down and eventually changing the locks to secure the building and prevent the squatters returning.
But the squatters had already moved on – they risked a possible prison sentence if they defied the court order. One remaining member of the collective is thought to have escaped over some town centre rooftops.
Reclaim Croydon left a parting present for the bailiffs and the borough’s landowners and council, with a note: “You might think you’ve won this time, but we will carry on with our fight against homelessness by any means necessary. Yours, Reclaim Croydon”.
And in a statement issued today, Reclaim Croydon said, “This is just the beginning.
“We have already opened more squats and we shall carry on with our occupation of empty Brick by Brick buildings until Croydon Council houses all those in need in the borough. No Pasaran!”
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