Masked police oust Crouch End squatters
Squatters who earlier this year uncovered confidential council files were finally evicted last week after 11 months residency in Middle Lane Mews, Crouch End. Police in dust masks entered the building accompanied by bailiffs to force squ
Squatters who earlier this year uncovered confidential council files were finally evicted last week after 11 months' residency in Middle Lane Mews, Crouch End.
Police in dust masks entered the building accompanied by bailiffs to force squatters out as they struggled to salvage art work from the dilapidated building.
The squatters, who made the former council building their home in May 2007, had occupied all four floors, leaving a scene of devastation littered with broken glass, graffiti and the occasional work of high literature.
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"They were fine until October" said Tony Reiff, managing agent for the owners, surveyors and property consultants Reiff and Co. "Then it changed. They started bringing in dogs, there was a fire, and there were babies on the property."
Following a number of police raids on the premises in search of drugs, a claim for possession was started by Reiff and Co's solicitors in late November 2007. The judgement for possession was passed on February 14.
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A builder for the owner estimated that it would cost £9,000 just to clear the ground floor. "If you think that there are four floors then that's around £40,000" added Mr Reiff. "It will take three months to fix up."
While representatives for the owners complained about dog mess and noise caused by the occupiers, the squatters presented a more positive picture of their stay. "We wanted it to become a proper art space. It could have been the start of something," said one squatter, Stush.
Another, Selvin Muniam, 30, an artist who was also living on the premises, added: "I'll miss the barbecues on the roof. It was a welcoming, beautiful place."
The squatters hit the headlines earlier this year when they uncovered a collection of council files containing the medical records and bank details of hundreds of residents.
While council officers arrived to remove the files in February, they left at least 14 behind, claiming it had "secured" them.
The building was used by the Hornsey Housing Forum and the Youth Offending Team until May 2005 when the lease ran out.
Inside the litter-strewn building were numerous art works, some painted on walls, some on canvasses. Dog bowls, empty laughing gas canisters and books by authors ranging from Joseph Conrad to Umberto Eco were also discarded. Andy Fellahoue, a mechanic at North Eight Motors near the squat, said: "They were noisy. The fire brigade was called at one point."
As he left the house, one squatter, who refused to be named, said: "It's time to move on. Everyone's found somewhere else to live and get on with their lives."
The squatters were later seen entering an unoccupied house in Tivoli Road, but were soon asked to vacate the premises by police and an agent from the council. The premises were unoccupied due to structural damage.