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Squatters target Belsize Park Legal Cafe and former South End Green pub the White Horse

PUBLISHED: 16:57 19 July 2017 | UPDATED: 17:08 19 July 2017

Items belonging to a group that squatted a Belsize Park cafe last week

Items belonging to a group that squatted a Belsize Park cafe last week

Archant

A former Belsize Park café and a former South End Green pub have been targeted by squatters amid a spate of attempted occupations of empty business premises.

The site of the former Legal Cafe, which closed last year and was squatted for one night last week The site of the former Legal Cafe, which closed last year and was squatted for one night last week

Police on Friday evicted squatters from the erstwhile Legal Café on Havistock Hill after they had reportedly been in the building for one night; the café closed last year after a rent dispute between the owners and the landlord.

However, one unnamed member of the group claimed that the group had entered lawfully – meaning the police had no right to evict them – and also alleged he had been treated violently during the eviction.

“We had been squatting for one night,” said the man, a member of an artists’ collective. “On Friday police came in and removed us by force. They said we had committed burglary and trespass – but we checked beforehand that it was empty.

“This is a civil matter, the door was open, we committed no criminal damage – the police should have just moved on.”

Contacted by the Ham&High, the building’s owner Antonis Evangelou, proprietor of popular Primrose Hill e#atery Lemonia, claimed to have had no involvement in the eviction. “It’s not an issue,” he said. “The police came, they left. There are no squatters there now.”

A police spokesman said: “Police were called at around 4pm on July 14 to a number of people who had gained access to premises that were undergoing refurbishment in Haverstock Hill.

“Officers attended the location, and those inside the building left. There was no arrest. The premises - a café undergoing refurbishment - were not disused.”

Meanwhile, squatters have also moved in to the former White Horse pub, on Fleet Road, in South End Green, amid several attempts to squat empty business premises in the area and on Hampstead High Street.

“We advise owners to be alert and keep their premises locked,” said Officer Nick Dayton of Hampstead Town Police. “That goes for neighbours too – if you see people trying to enter, they may be burglars, not squatters.”

In Muswell Hill, police evicted squatters who had invaded the O’Neills pub on, Muswell Hill Broadway, just before 4am on Sunday. They were called following reports of a break in at the former Presbyterian church.

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