Stokes Croft Freeshop Resquatted

News is this morning (09/07/11) that the free shop has been re-occupied & all residents slept there again last night.

Stokes Croft Freeshop Eviction

Kitten ignores bailiffs at Freeshop Eviction

Bristol Evening Post

A TINY kitten caused headaches for security guards during a Stokes Croft eviction.

The black cat was an unlucky omen for bailiffs who moved in to take possession of the Bristol Freeshop, neighbouring art gallery the Emporium and flats above them, at 6am yesterday.

Although the group of squatters living in the buildings on Stokes Croft were all escorted outside, their pets had to be removed by security firm Delta.

Out came the dog and a litter of puppies but a three-month-old stray kitten, adopted by the group, was nowhere to be found.

Despite frantic calls to the RSPCA and after pleading with police, security guards, and bailiffs, the female owner of the kitten, who did not want to be named, was not allowed to re-enter the building to search for the lost cat.

But while property company Sitex Orbis moved in to board up the buildings, which have been run as a charity shop and art gallery by volunteers for several years, the kitten made an appearance and was reunited with her owner.

In June, after building owners won a court possession order to take back the property, a protest was held at the shop. Squatters and volunteers said they have put years of work into improving the building which is thought to be owned by a Hong Kong-based group called Jerwood Trading.

One 48-year-old squatter said he had been living on the premises for the past two and a half years. He said: “I woke up this morning and there was a man standing in my bedroom with a sledgehammer.

“We were all moved outside and they started boarding up the shop. The good thing was we got the dogs out but then the kitten was left inside. She must have been so frightened.”

The volunteers running the gallery and shop, which is on the site of the former Classic’s dress wear shop, had hoped to buy the property and had made an offer to the building’s owners so they could continue their work.

“Our bid to buy the shop obviously hasn’t gone though but we will continue to run the Freeshop. People are counting on us and that is our biggest concern today. It has been quite a stressful morning.”

Justin Ford, from Sitex Orbis, said: “Our instructions have been to board up the property. There was a bit of trouble this morning but everyone moved out very quickly.”

It is understood the owners of the building intend to put it up for auction.

Tony Gosling, who has been giving the volunteers legal advice, said: “We were in negotiations with the company and we had put a package together to buy the property so this eviction is a real betrayal. We will be attending the auction so there is still a chance we can move back in and continue to offer this service for the community.