York council’s deputy leader has strongly condemned Persimmon Homes for what he says is an ‘illegal’ eviction of peaceful protesters from land near the Barbican Centre.
York-based Persimmon Homes says the eviction of people at the Barbican Community Centre squat off Kent Street was “in full accordance with well-established legal procedures”. Their full statement is below.
However, Fishergate ward councillors Andy D’Agorne, who is also deputy leader, and Dave Taylor have questioned that assertion.
There will now be a protest held outside the site tomorrow (Saturday) at 1pm.
North Yorkshire Police say the eviction was not a police matter and they were not involved in the eviction.
A statement says “Police were present because they were called to two reports of an assault at the location. The incident is under investigation and officers are due to speak with the victim over the weekend. No arrests have been made at this time.”
But in a statement from Persimmon they said “At our request, police officers were present at all times to monitor the situation.”
Tweeting in reply to an update about the dramatic events this morning by YorkMix‘s David Dunning, Cllr D’Agorne said: “Shocked to see footage of private bailiffs removing peaceful protesters this morning without any legal basis.
“Persimmon Homes have sat on this site for 15 years and not progressed planning consent for homes yet now conduct illegal eviction of peaceful protesters.”
Cllr D’Agorne told YorkMix: “I am personally shocked that a major national company based in York would behave in this way to remove peaceful protesters from land left derelict for 15 years.
“I am already on record as ward councillor calling for them to engage with the local community to discuss their plans for the site and will continue to press for them to do so.”
‘It’s not acceptable’
The squatters took up residence at the site to highlight its neglect since being sold by the council to Persimmon around 15 years ago.
They wanted it to be compulsorily purchased and brought back into community use, with ideas for an allotment or woodland.
But bailiffs burst in on their camp at 6am today (Friday). One of the protesters, Patrick Thelwell, refused to go and was carried out forcibly by three bailiffs.
He alleges that their actions amounted to an assault, leaving him with a bruise to his neck.
Cllr Taylor told us: “I’m quite horrified really at the response of Persimmon Homes to this. It looks like an illegal eviction has taken place.
“There’s an assault been alleged against the bailiffs. And it’s not really acceptable for a company to go about things this way, I would have thought that Persimmon Homes would have gone through the courts as they should have done.
“The two councillors for Fishergate have asked Persimmon for many years what they’re intending to do with the site. They’ve had planning permission twice over from the City of York Council to build flats on the site.
“And they’ve just declined to do so. Some years ago Andy D’Agorne and I asked if a community allotment could be created on that site if they weren’t going to do anything.
“And we were assured that building work was going to be started. So I am quite sympathetic to what the squatters are doing here in drawing attention to the fact that Persimmon have land-banked this Barbican site and just left it for something like 15 years.”
A spokesperson for Persimmon Homes Yorkshire, said: “The illegal trespassers at our Barbican site have been removed this morning in full accordance with well-established legal procedures.
“At our request, police officers were present at all times to monitor the situation. All but one of the trespassers left voluntarily when requested. The site has been made secure and we are continuing to review various options for the land’s future.”
YorkMix has contacted North Yorkshire Police and is waiting for a response.