BAILIFFS are today (January 29) expected to evict a band of squatters who have taken over a derelict community centre in Lyminster.
Campaigners from the activist group the Rainbow Common Wealth have been illegally occupying the Meadview Centre, in Lyminster Road, for about two weeks.
They are fighting attempts to convert the site – which has been abandoned for more than a year – into a horticultural nursery.
A spokesman for the activists – who refused to give his last name, calling himself Lucas, said the group was determined to occupy the land, peacefully, in an effort to maintain a ‘treasured community asset’.
“We have been watching it now for a year and a half, slowly getting worse and worse, degrading with glass breaking and weeds coming in. We just thought, ‘That’s it, we have to do something’.”
He says the team is part of a community direct action group.
Their mission is to try to keep the site free of redevelopment and to preserve it as a space for the community to use.
Formerly, it had been run by the now-closed charity, HOMElink.
The charity had used it as a base to help homeless people and those with learning disabilities from across the area until it closed in 2013.
The spokesman added: “It’s a wonderful site full of potential, we propose to get it up and running on a voluntary basis, organising community days where we all come together and put our positive energy into it.
“We have already started this process and the response is overwhelming. Charities are already showing an interest as well as the home education sector in Sussex and Thornlea Court, a static caravan site housing many elderly people who wish to use it as a place for social meetings.”
However, Arun District Council’s resources director and deputy chief executive, has taken a dim view of the squatting.
He said Arun was ‘aware of the very recent illegal occupation of Meadview’ and that it was ‘taking all necessary and appropriate action’.
The council has been granted a possession order by a county court judge – which the squatters have failed to comply with.
He confirmed bailiffs will be completing the eviction today. Mr Croad added the site will have a new user who will run it as a horticultural nursery.