'No one who used the job centre would be able to afford a flat here': Kilburn squatters have their say as eviction looms
PUBLISHED: 12:02 03 July 2018 | UPDATED: 12:12 03 July 2018
A group of 15 squatters who have called Kilburn's former job centre home since the beginning of June are packing their bags.
Rossmore Properties Ltd, the owner of the building, is taking them to court today, where they are expecting to be issued with a Final Possession Order (FPO).
The squatters had been paying for electricity and maintaining the three-storey building, which they say they found in a sorry state.
“When we came in, the toilets and sinks were overflowing. The owner was trying to say that it is not safe,” said Andres, a chef from Spain who has been squatting on and off in London for the past six years.
“We would have liked to make a deal with the owners but they’re only interested in selling it. They could have made us guardians, which would have been an opportunity for everyone.
“Whole families are living on the streets. Why has this building been empty for so long? I’d open this building; I’d cook for the people of this community.”
The job centre in Cambridge Avenue closed on March 2. It is currently legal to squat in a commercial property, unless criminal damage is caused.
Musicians, artists and students are among the squatters, who had earlier resorted to barricading themselves in when Rossmore threatened them with bailiffs.
The squatters were hoping to turn the empty space into a community centre, opening it up to locals as a gallery or an educational facility.
“We just needed the approval of the owners so we could help them and they could help us,” said Mariza, from Portugal, who is studying health and social care.
The group is convinced the job centre will now be turned into luxury flats. “It’s all about money for them, not about helping people,” added Mariza.
Nick, a campaigner with the Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group, told this newspaper: “It’s an agent of social cleansing.
“No one who used the job centre would be able to afford the flats here.
“If it can’t be a job centre it should be a space that is of use to the local community.”
Rossmore Properties Ltd was not available for comment. The Times was told Telereal Trillium, the company that looks after most of the Department for Work and Pensions’ properties, no longer manages the old job centre, although the DWP had pointed us in its direction.