West Hampstead squatters want to use empty council building to feed the homeless Christmas dinner
PUBLISHED: 17:06 19 November 2015 | UPDATED: 11:53 26 November 2015
Squatters occupying the council's former offices in West Hampstead say they are willing to discuss handing back the keys - but would like use of the building to provide Christmas dinner for homeless and elderly people.
The occupiers, named as “The Camden Mothership”, moved into the five-storey building in West End Lane on Saturday, and have been attempting to negotiate with the council since then.
Their latest email, seen by the Ham&High, asks the council not to waste money on “further unnecessary action or legal proceedings” after the Town Hall took the first steps to regain possession of the property.
The email says they are willing to discuss giving the keys back to the council, as requested, but they would like a guarantee that the building can be utilised by the community for “meanwhile use” while it remains empty.
It goes on to say: “We would further like to request access to the building over the Christmas period to cook Christmas dinner for pensioners on one floor and the homeless on another floor.”
The group are attempting to establish a co-operative or non-profit company over the next week or so, to enable them to formally negotiate with the council.
Cllr Theo Blackwell, head of finance for Camden, said he cannot have discussions with the group while they are squatting.
The group has a solicitor representing them and those advocating on their behalf include Piers Corbyn, brother of Labour leader, Jeremy, who has been involved with housing and squatters’ rights since the 1970s.
They also have an accountant from the London School of Economics who is helping them with a cost-benefit analysis, as they claim they can save the council as substantial amount of money in security costs if they are given leave to remain.
The email adds: “We are reasonable people who have set up community projects for nearly 25 years and we want to co-operate with Camden Council to re-use empty space and infrastructure in an intelligent way.”
The group is now using the printers and computers abandoned by the council when they moved out in order to communicate with the powers-that-be at Town Hall.