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Court evicts Brighton Taj squatters
10:18am Thursday 24th February 2011 in News
ON THE WAY OUT? A squatter starts moving his possessions out of the empty Taj building. Picture by Kevin Meredith.
By Alex Ariel
A judge has ordered squatters occupying a Kemp Town supermarket to leave within 24 hours or face prosecution.
Members of the group have been sleeping on the floor of the closed down Taj greengrocer store in St James’s Street since February 12 in protest at plans to put a Sainsbury’s store there.
Taj’s parent company went into administration last year after running up debts of millions of pounds.
The St James’s Street store was closed after administrator BDO was appointed.
Yesterday the campaigners, who call themselves SaboTaj, appeared at Brighton County Court where they were served with an Immediate Possession Order (IPO) by District Judge Elaine Thompson.
And this morning, it appeared they were abiding by the order when photographer Kevin Meredith snapped them moving their possessions out of the store.
Camilla Lamont, representing the administrator, said: “They definitely entered without consent and they remain there without consent.”
Judge Thompson told the group: “You must vacate the property within 24 hours of the service of this notice otherwise you will be committing a criminal offence.”
More than 30 members of SaboTaj gathered outside the court after the case to play music and sing.
They say that another chain supermarket on a street which already has a Tesco, Morrisons and Co-op will destroy St James’ Street’s quirky and independent identity but said they have no intention of breaking the law.
One, who only wanted to be known as Rachel, said: “It’s a massive shame. We can do a lot more for the community.
“We don’t need another Sainsbury’s in Brighton.
“We had plans to open up a free school, a children’s space and a library for the community. These things are a lot more positive than a Sainsbury’s.”
Oliver Bettany, from Egremont Place, said: “SaboTaj is David Cameron’s Big Society in action. I am not a member but I have come to support them.
“No one wants another Sainsbury’s. Big business is the enemy of the local community.
“It’s about time the council put its money where its mouth is and did something. In five or ten years our communities will be unrecognisable. There won’t be any community spaces left.”
Sainsbury’s plans to take over the four-storey building but discussions with Brighton and Hove City Council about conditions of the lease are still ongoing.