Maida Vale squatters invite community into disused school building

Squatters who have taken over an empty school building are pledging to open its doors to show neighbours their intentions are honourable.

A group of about 30 self-titled ‘caretakers’ have been occupying City of Westminster College’s Maida Vale Centre in Elgin Avenue since May 17.

The squatters, who say they have a no drink and drugs policy, insist that they want to ensure the empty building is once again used for the betterment of the community.

Squatter Leon, 27, said: “So far the feedback from neighbours has been really positive but we want to open up this Sunday and invite people in.

“We will be running art workshops and drama workshops and having a jam session.

“This will not be a late- night party by any means – just a chance for people to come along and see what we are doing.”

Frank Freeman, 24, said he was the first to notice the building could be used for squatting and then spent a day ensuring that it was unoccupied and unused.

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“When we spoke to the owner they were initially wary,” he said. “They are OK now they know what we are doing here.

“We have our legal teams looking at everything but I think we will be here about a month before we get moved on. In that time our aim is to make this place work for the community again.”

The group say they are squatting to highlight what they consider to be a waste of assets brought on by government cuts.

Frank said: “There is no reason why this building could not be used for the community again.

“We have one room here – which we have not touched – where dozens of computers and screens have just been left. Imagine how different groups could use them.”

The group are opening the college’s doors from noon to 6pm on Sunday for neighbours and other interested parties to take part in workshops.

A spokesperson for the college said: “City of Westminster College is continuing to take appropriate legal steps to regain control of its property with vacant possession.”