Activists cry foul as police and heavies besiege Royal Mint
HOMELESS people were left without a shelter for New Year’s Eve when police and private security besieged a squat at the old Royal Mint building yesterday.
Activists hoping to house rough sleepers for the New Year had occupied the former coin manufacturing site next to the Tower of London on Tuesday afternoon.
But bailiffs arrived at the scene a few hours after squatters hung banners from the windows, forcing dozens of local homeless people to turn back as they arrived.
Many hoped to find the Royal Mint open for shelter, food and friendly company over the festive season.
“We need common sense use of our resources. We want solutions to this false housing crisis,” occupier Pete Phoenix told the Star.
The building was sold by the government in April for £75 million to a private company based in the British Virgin Islands.
Mr Phoenix said that, with over a million empty buildings in Britain, the fact that there were people sleeping rough was a travesty.
“We bailed out the banks, you know. All this government has done is criminalise the most vulnerable people — people who have to squat, who are homeless.
“It’s false austerity. It’s just about transferring assets from the people to private hands.”
Four of the many buildings in the mint complex were originally occupied, but by Wednesday morning only 15 people were left in the main site after what activists called “illegal evictions” took place through the night.
Outside Tower Hill Tube station a homeless man who wished not to be named said he had tried to get into the squat but quickly left as he saw the security dog units.
He added: “They’re right next to MI5 you know, it doesn’t look good to have [an occupied building] next door. I hope they stay as long as they can.”
US property company CBRE is responsible for the former mint’s management and has advised occupiers that the building could contain asbestos.