A MAN living inside a derelict pub has said he hopes to become “king of the squatters”.
Sebastian Stone, 26, is one of a group of squatters occupying the former Mariner pub in East Street, Brighton.
He told The Argus he is taking part in an unofficial competition to be crowned Brighton and Hove’s squatting champion.
He said the contest is like “X Factor for squatters”.
He said: “I’m trying to win King of the Squatters 2014. You need to get six squats. This is my fifth.”
Explaining why he squatted, Mr Cole said: “I’m 26. I haven’t got anything. I used to live in a council flat but I messed it up. I could wait around on a council waiting list or just help myself. I’m homeless. It was raining and it made sense to stay here.
“There’s not one single victim to this. We keep it tidy and, if anything, we’ve cleaned it up. But people know we’re squatters so make things up.”
Police evicted a previous group of squatters who were occupying the pub in March. After months of work to repair the damage they left, a new group of squatters has now moved in.
Rachel Gibson-Leigh, who lives above the pub, said: “When we first saw them, we went down to speak to them and one was coming out of the basement window.
“He had a council flat and said he helped other squatters find places to live.”
Her wife, Debbie Gibson-Leigh, called the police last week when the entrance to their home was blocked by a crowd of street drinkers behaving in an intimidating manner.
She said: “I can understand that there are people who are homeless but this is not the way to go about it.
“For them to say that there aren’t victims affected by it is an insult.”
The pub was previously the Prodigal, owned by the Barracuda pub chain which went into administration in December 2012.
It was sold to Whitbread and a court order seeking repossession of the property by the owners was posted on the building at the weekend, but it had been removed yesterday.
A spokeswoman for Sussex Police said squatters were believed to have broken in on August 22. Sergeant Dave Bennett, of Brighton and Hove’s Regency policing team, said: “Local officers are aware and increased patrols are being made to reassure the community.”