ANTI-AUSTERITY protesters have occupied an empty former bank and plan to transform it into a community centre.

A group of campaigners organised the takeover after joining hundreds of people in a rally against cuts through Brighton and Hove on Saturday.

Windows at the disused Barclays Bank building in Preston Circus were barred and the main door padlocked, but the group managed to climb up a lamp post, over a wall and gain access through a fire escape.

Red graffiti sprayed on a wooden barricade states "No cops, no Tories, no junk mail", and there are posters saying "Get the Frack out of Sussex" on the top floor.

Another banner asking "How many more will austerity kill?" hangs from the side of the building being nicknamed the “Bank of Love” by those inside.

The Argus spoke to members of the so-far unnamed group yesterday, all of whom partially shielded their faces with scarves. [8/6]

One Brighton man there, who asked not to be named, said: “We did this because austerity is

decimating communities. We are not here for a party and there is a zero tolerance policy on drugs.

“We’ve been busy cleaning, painting and making rooms to sleep in. The building was empty and had been used as a squat so was dirty.

"The numbers of people taking part range from a dozen to 50 and we’ve had a lot of support from others who are unable to stay here with us.

“There is talk of it being a food bank or a social centre for the community. Once it’s ready we want to open the doors to everyone and we hope we will be allowed to stay here.”

The Barclays branch closed on January 23.

The Brighton and Hove People’s Assembly called for an end to austerity with its march, beginning at Victoria Gardens, on Saturday.

Around 300 people, including Brighton and Hove City councillors from the Green Party, peacefully marched through the city streets peacefully. The councillors were only said to be involved in the march.

A police spokesman said no-one was arrested at the march or over in connection with the building takeover.

He added: “At 5.30pm on Saturday police received a report a number of people had entered the site of the old Barclays Bank in Preston Road, Brighton. There was already a squat there and it is not currently a police matter.”



"We were pleased to see so many people out on Saturday expressing their anger about the impact of government spending cuts on local people and services.

"Things like the closure of the Independent Living Fund, the harsh sanctions regime, the cuts to social care and the proposed ending of housing benefit for young people show the Conservative government is lying when they say they are protecting the most vulnerable.

"Already more than 100 people have booked train tickets with us to go to London for a national demonstration on June 20. Anyone who wants to come with us can book at" - Dani Ahrens, of the Brighton People's Assembly Against Austerity