BAILIFFS failed in their attempts to evict squatters from an abandoned community centre in Lyminster on Thursday.
For the past three weeks, activists from the Rainbow Common Wealth have occupied the former Meadview Centre, off Lyminster Road.
They are fighting to preserve the facility as a community hub and prevent it from becoming a horticultural nursery.
However, on Thursday morning, a team of bailiffs – ordered by a county court judge and supported by police – attempted to storm the site and evict the campaigners.
A band of 25 activists, waving flags and banners, barricaded themselves inside the former HOMElink-run centre, using cars to block the site’s entrance and rubbish to create further barriers.
Some even took to the roof of the disused centre, in a bid to avoid eviction.
Hilaire Purbrick, 51, a spokesman for the group, said: “It was a little bit scary last night because there had been an incident with someone shouting and tearing our signs down and to be honest, it felt like the forces of darkness were gathering. But we kept each other company and mainly stayed up all night.”
Speaking of the bailiffs’ arrival, he added: “We felt like we were being bullied, intimidated and that nothing legal was done with us.”
He claimed the paperwork was illegal and that no warrant had been obtained – something which Arun District Council contests.
Arun’s resources director and deputy chief executive Nigel Croad said the council would continue its attempts to evict the squatters.
He said: “As the eviction warrant has not, as yet, been fully executed, the council is liaising with the court bailiff and Sussex Police to ensure the remaining illegal occupants are removed as safely and quickly as possible.”
Mr Croad said the illegal occupation was preventing a potential new tenant employing people at Meadview as a hursery.
The Meadview Centre was opened in 2011 but shut two years later after the charity running it closed.
l We have been asked to point out that members of the Thornlea Court social club, from the nearby mobile home site, are ‘not interested’ in holding meetings at Meadview, as was suggested in our report last week by the squatters.