Barkingside squatters talk of community benefits if allowed to stay in The Doctor Johnson pub
- Credit: Archant
Four squatters who took over a derelict Grade II listed pub in Barkingside insist they want to reach an agreement to use the building for art projects to benefit the community.
Group leader, Gee, 41, a former British Telecom salesman, says if he does not manage to negotiate a deal with Cloverton Property, the company which owns the building, the squatters will vacate The Doctor Johnson pub in Longwood Gardens on Monday.
“Our plans are to clean the outside of the building and the inside and then make an agreement with the owner,” explains Gee, speaking across a table inside the pub.
“We will ask, ‘Can we stay here for a few months or a year while we use it for the community?’
“We would just like to be given the opportunity. We are the only squatter group who will have community workshops and arts exhibitions. The one thing we won’t do is pay rent.”
The four men – Marco, 40, from France, Radoslaw, 35, from Poland, French-Moroccan Nabil, 22 and Gee – say they represent Suspense Property Guardians (SP). They refuse to give their surnames.
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According to Gee, who lives in Barkingside, SP has more than 170 members from across the country who target derelict buildings, primarily in east London.
“In the past year we have been targeting grade II listed buildings,” says Gee. “We look for buildings where planning applications have been turned down time and time again.”
“I have worked with squatters who have 7,000 or 8,000-people parties, but that is so far away from what SP are trying to do. That is the antithesis of what we do.”
On arriving at The Doctor Johnson on Sunday, Gee and his crew set to work clearing rubbish in front of building.
However, Gee, a squatter for five years, admits this was merely a way of distracting passers-by in the street. With some of the crew sweeping rubbish, another was looking for a legal way of entering the building.
“We just try to find an open window next to a door handle,” says Gee. “We tend to follow the crackheads after they have been in the building – but it has not happened on this occasion.
“I am fairly sure that this building has been squatted a few times before.”