Bristol squatters protest another social housing sell-off

SQUATTERS have occupied a house in Bristol in protest at its imminent sale.

The terraced house in West Grove, Montepelier, was due to be sold by owners Knightstone Housing Association at an auction tonight.

Police are currently outside the building, which now has protesters on the roof.

Ben Richie from the squatters group Bristol Housing Action Movement, which works with housing campaign group Acorn, said the squatters had moved in to the house, near the Star and Garter pub, late this afternoon.

He said: “It started a couple of hours ago, there’s 2-3 people in the building.

“We’re concerned over the auction tonight. It’s a Knightstone Housing Association property and were concerned about the loss of social housing in the city.”

The protesters have told police they are staging a political occupation against the city council for auctioning off housing stock.

Mr Richie said: “We believe the council has offered a one-to-one swap of a property (to Knightstone), meaning the loss of one council house.

“By occupying it were hoping it can’t be auctioned off and therefore stopping privatisation through the back door. This is an area which is much sort after area.

Neighbour Sarah Jamieson said the house had been used for social housing for “20-odd years” but had been empty for more than a year since the previous tenant died.

Ms Jamieson said: “I’m overjoyed, because I know they’ve been selling houses off.

“The social housing around this area is diminishing.

“I was angry when I heard it was being sold off. Fiona, who lived there, would have been so upset.

“It was a family home and it should stay that way.”

The house was due to go under the hammer this evening, in a sale organised by Auction House Bristol & Somerset North at Ashton Gate stadium.

The three-storey Victorian mid-terrace house had a guide price of £250,000 to £300,000.

Described as “flexible accommodation” which could be used as a three or four-bedroom home and is in need of modernisation, the auctioneers said: “The property is situated in popular Montpelier, with its range of cafes bars and restaurants situated throughout the area, including Picton Street and Stokes Croft.”

UPDATE 9.20PM: Police went into the house to remove those inside but were unable to reach two squatters on the roof. Officers remain at the scene.