AN ART gallery manager has spoken of his fury after squatters took over his city centre building.

Henry Gomez had signed the lease on 13 Trafalgar Street, Brighton, to open Dynamite Gallery.

But the day after insurance firm Swinton vacated the building, squatters moved in. The building is owned by an elderly couple who rely on the rent for their retirement.

Mr Gomez said: “It’s infuriating because there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s affected my business massively because I can’t get builders in and do the place up and start work.

“I don’t understand how they can go in and you can’t get them out. I’ve tried to understand but I can’t.

“It’s unfair on everybody. It’s left me in limbo. It’s coming up to Christmas and I have no business.”

The group occupying the building is understood to be led by self-styled ‘king of squatters’ Dave Adams.

The 40-year-old owns his own home, but helps others take over buildings as a political protest against the city’s homeless problem.

Mr Adams was not at the squat on Thursday but a member of the group spoke to The Argus from behind a closed door.

The squatter said: “Some of us have not got anywhere to live. We’re just trying to get a roof over our heads.

“When they get back in here they will see we’ve left it absolutely spotless.”

Squatting in residential property was made illegal in 2012.

But squatting in commercial property is not a criminal matter and can only be dealt with in the civil courts. It is hoped the solicitors can obtain an eviction order but it is not known how long this will take.

Flude Commercial, which is handling the issue, said Mr Adams had told them he was aware of the law and would only leave once an eviction order is produced.

Associate Jyoti Gongba said the couple, who owned the building and had run a business there since the 1980s while living in the flat above, were upset about what had happened.

She said since the squatting laws were changed Flude had seen an increase in squatting in commercial properties.