Squatters at city council-owned office block have had more donations than they need

Some of the squatters occupying Aqua House.
Some of the squatters occupying Aqua House.
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Squatters occupying a former office building in Peterborough say they have had so many donations of food and drink they are planning to distribute some to the homeless.

The group of Anti-austerity protesters have been staying in a disused Peterborough building for more than a week.

The protesters, calling themselves Peterborough Squatters Autonomy, entered Aqua House on Town Bridge late on Saturday last weekend (May 16).

Since then they say they have received increasing support from people in the area.

One of the protestors - who declined to give his name - said: “People have donated so much we will be giving some to the homeless.

“Last night a family arrived with donations and people have been coming all week. People have brought food and everything we need to live and also banner materials.”

“We have more than we need and we are planning to donate some to the homeless.”

It is thought about a dozen protesters are in the Peterborough City Council-owned building, and have displayed a number of banners on the side of the former office block.

The banners included messages about homelessness in Peterborough, the state of the NHS, and signs calling for more social housing.

The city council has made a legal representation to the High Court to get the necessary permission to enter the building and remove the squatters.

When asked if the squatters would comply with any legal order or request to leave, the protester said: “It’s a democracy here. We would have to discuss it as a group and vote on what to do.”

Speaking to the Peterborough Telegraph last week, another of the protesters said: “We are willing to stay here for as long as we can.

“We want to make a change, so vulnerable people can get help. There is not enough support for these people. We hope this protest will achieve change in Peterborough.”

A Peterborough City Council spokesman said that the council would evict the squatters once legal permission had been obtained: “This will give us the legal right to evict the protestors that are unlawfully occupying the building.

“We will be supported by the police during any eviction and very much hope and expect the occupiers to peacefully leave the building. It could be at least a week until we have the necessary legal powers to complete any eviction.

“We will also carry out a risk assessment to ensure the safety of those who are currently trespassing in Aqua House. Officers from Cambridgeshire Police will continue to visit the site on a regular basis.”

The law and squatting:

From September 1st 2012, squatting in a residential property became a criminal offence. 
Squatters can be arrested and if convicted, can be sent to prison for up to six months or fined up to £5,000, or both.

In legal terms a non-residential property is any building or land that isn’t designed to be lived in.

Simply being on another person’s non-residential property without their permission isn’t usually a crime. 
The police can take action if squatters commit other crimes when entering or staying in a property.

Authorities can remove squatters using an interim possession order (IPO) or making a claim for possession.

Squatters must be served with the court documents within 48 hours and after being served with an IPO squatters could be sent to prison if they don’t leave the property within 24 hours.