Mike Weatherley, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, has condemned squatters who took over a former school in The Drive in Hove last week, exploiting a gap in the law that does not criminalise squatting in commercial properties.
Mike was contacted by owners of the building who have been forced to engage in a lengthy legal battle to evict squatters after they broke into the former Drive Prep school on Friday night. Despite a neighbour witnessing the break-in and calling 999, the police have claimed that they were powerless to remove the squatters. The squatters put up a poster on the door of the building highlighting that the commercial property was not covered under the new squatting legislation. Following his success with criminalising squatting in residential properties, Mike is now campaigning for the law to be extended to cover commercial property.
Earlier this morning, a member of Mike’s staff was chatting with the owners of the building. The owners had just returned from court and were frustrated that apparently there were not enough bailiffs to deal with an eviction until the end of the week. However, as they discussed the predicament that they faced, the squatters suddenly upped and left. Upon inspection of the building, which had just been decorated ready for the next tenants, the squatters had left graffiti-covered walls, smashed windows, empty cans of alcohol, cigarette boxes and rubbish all over the place.
Commenting, Mike said: “Instances like this highlight exactly why it is important that the law is extended to cover all properties. Once again, squatters have caused misery and distress and left an appalling mess after themselves. The owners will now have to pay a substantial sum of money to secure their own building from future break-ins and clear up the disgusting mess. This kind of behaviour is completely unacceptable and, like with residential properties, should be outlawed.”