Mike Weatherley, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, has called on the Government to extend the new squatting law to cover commercial premises.
Mike, who was instrumental in the introduction of the new squatting legislation, does not believe that it goes far enough by only covering residential properties. A squat in Brighton, which is half commercial and half residential, was raided on Monday by Sussex Police in the country’s first test of the new law. The squatters (Alistair Cannell, Tarquin Sedwick and Dirk Duputell) were arrested and charged under the new law, although when in appearing in court the next day, the squatters simply gave their address as the commercial part of the building.
Mike has been campaigning for squatting to be criminalised since his election to Parliament in 2010 and has been supported by the Prime Minister, as well as his colleague the Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke QC MP, Secretary of State for Justice. Squatting is a huge problem in Brighton & Hove, with numerous instances of this organised and frequently menacing behaviour blighting the lives of ordinary people. Irate squatters have dubbed the new law “Weatherley’s Law” following Mike’s campaign to introduce the new legislation. The law came into force on Saturday 1st September.
Commenting, Mike said: “The new legislation is a great step towards protecting people’s homes from selfish, anti-social squatters. However, small businesses are still under threat and I’ve seen a number of them go bust because they have been taken over by squatters. Without the protection of the law this kind of behaviour will continue, which is why I will be working with property businesses around the country about extending the legislation.”