'What they did was absolutely atrocious' - squatters appalled as council storms home (From Enfield Independent)
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'What they did was absolutely atrocious' - squatters in derelict Brimsdown petrol station appalled as Enfield Borough Council storms home
Squatters occupying a derelict petrol station claim they are living in fear after Enfield Borough Council officers stormed their home.
Reverend Peter Nichols, who lives in a caravan in the former Thrifty MOT Centre in Brimsdown Avenue, was rudely awoken when officers from the environmental crime department stormed the site and seized six vehicles parked on site.
The eco-warrior said the second-hand vehicles belonged to a friend’s charity that ships them out to Africa where they are sold to raise money to build schools.
Rev Nichols, who runs his own science fiction-based religion the Church of All Worlds from his Brimsdown caravan, said: “What they did was absolutely atrocious – you don’t expect that in Britain.
“I have made statements publically and will be calling lawyers asking them to deal with this.
“You could look at a bunch of vehicles and say ‘well, that’s untidy’, but that doesn’t give them the right to break into someone’s home.”
The vehicles were seized because they were not taxed and had not been declared off the road to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
Six other environmental campaigners, eco-warriors and anti-capitalists live in the former petrol station, which is owned by The Sisters Property Company Ltd.
The Reverend, who has lived on the site for three years, would not reveal his age to the Enfield Independent and refused to be pictured without his face obscured.
Although the people are not professionals, Rev Nichols said the community use the site to restore derelict vehicles and make sure they are used for worthy causes.
However, the council claims the squatters are living on the land illegally and is working hard to have them removed permanently.
According to the eco-warrior, people living on-site are awake at night – usually renovating the vehicles - so when the officers stormed the building with two police officers at midday on December 13, they were sleeping.
He told the Enfield Independent their visit was a surprise, but the council insists it made an appointment with the occupants to arrive at the given time and date.
To make matters worse, he claims the officers said they would return to seize more of the vehicles, but he is unsure when they will return.
He added: “They had no right in my eyes. It has more than upset us. We thought we were being violently attacked.
“We live in fear every day and every night that they will come in and attack us again.”
However, the Cabinet Member for Environment, Councillor Chris Bond, is desperate for the small community to leave the site.
He said: "The people in question are living on someone else's land and are using it to store untaxed vehicles, both of which are against the law.
“Both Enfield Council and the owner of the site have received complaints from residents about the illegal occupants and the deterioration of the site since their arrival and as such we have taken action to remove some of the vehicles from the land.”
He said the council cannot allow illegal activity which causes a “nuisance” to continue, and said the authority will be working with the landlord to “rid the community of this blight”.
He added: "I'd urge the squatters to do the right thing - move on, to a place where they can live legally without inconveniencing residents, and pay the vehicle duty due on their vehicles."