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Postponement of Eviction Hearing Welcomed by Squatters

Squatters occupying the empty building 39-40 High Street have avoided eviction after a hearing at Bristol County Court on Friday, May 5th, was relisted.

Bristol City Council, who own the building, had applied for a possession order, which would enable them to begin eviction proceedings. However, due to papers being submitted incorrectly by the council, the court relisted the hearing for Wednesday, May 12th.

The building at 39-40 High Street has been empty for many years and has been squatted many times by different groups. 

One of the occupiers, who asked to remain anonymous, said that by squatting, ‘not only are you taking a building back into reuse, but the fact that you have a free space means that you can do things for free for people, just because you think that they’re a good thing to do.’ 

He also drew attention to the role of squatting as a solution to Bristol’s perennial housing crisis, especially for young people who cannot access the housing ladder.

‘A big thing in the local election has been the lack of affordable housing. I think it’s quite duplicitous from the council, because they know that they’ve got empty properties that people could be using.’

The current occupants, around 15 people at any one time, have been using the building as a community space and mutual aid centre, hosting free shops and cafes, and events like film screenings and open stage nights. 

A crowd of around a dozen supporters had gathered outside the courthouse and cheered when news of the relisting came from inside.

The police, perhaps anticipating larger numbers, had stationed two officers and two liaison officers at the courthouse, while officers and a riot van were seen patrolling nearby. 

The hearing was relisted for 10:00 on Wednesday, May 12th. Supporters can come to Bristol County Courthouse.

An update on this story is available here.

Supported outside the Courthouse. Photo: James Ward
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