Thursday, 31 December 2015

Royal Mint squatters leave building after court ruling | Society | The Guardian #olsx @occupynn

Royal Mint squatters leave building after court ruling | Society | The Guardian

A sign hanging outside the Royal Mint building in Tower Hill saying: 'Take back the City'.
 The occupiers at the Royal Mint building in Tower Hill denied any plans for a rave and said they were exposing the amount of empty buildings in the capital. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA
A group of protesters who occupied the former Royal Mint building have left the premises peacefully after being ordered by the high court to be out by 3pm on New Year’s Eve.
The 15 activists, who took over one of the grade II-listed buildings in the City of London property on 28 December, told the Guardian they left the building clean and tidy, after two leaseholding companies – RMC LH Ltd and RM Site Management Ltd – went to the high court to have them removed.
The squatters sought an adjournment of the case until after the new year but the leaseholders argued that an illegal rave was being planned for New Year’s Eve and so the protesters needed to be evicted immediately.
The companies said it would cost them in excess of £100,000 to provide security on the site if the squatters remained there over the new year.
Law student Jed Miller, who volunteers for the Advisory Service for Squatters, argued that the squatters’ right to protest under human rights laws was being infringed and they needed more time to instruct lawyers to put their case before the courts. 
He said the buildings were currently surrounded by security staff who were well able to prevent any attempt to hold a rave.
Granting an order for possession, the judge rejected all the squatters’ legal arguments and said if he had allowed an adjournment “there is a real risk that an illegal rave would take place”.
The squatters denied a rave was planned and said they had occupied part of the former Royal Mint complex to highlight the shocking number of empty buildings that could be used to provide temporary housing for growing numbers of homeless people.
The former Royal Mint site is awaiting redevelopment into a business complex. According to Land Registry records the site was sold for £75m in April 2015 to RMC, which is incorporated in the British Virgin Isles. 
During their occupation the squatters used the site’s financial history to send out a message to the UK’s banking institutions that fundamental change was required.
“We all need to live in a more sustainable way,” said Pete Phoenix, one of the squatters. “The way financial systems work is not conducive to protecting the planet. 
“We need systems change not climate change. We need to be bailing out the environment not the banks. There is a complex of four huge buildings here. They could be used to provide accommodation for hundreds of homeless people. We could turn this place into an environmental solutions centre.
“This is just the beginning. These protests in empty buildings are going to get bigger and bigger. We hope that by the end of 2016 there will be homes for all.”

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