IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Squatters move into Holloway pub in rents protest

With London so expensive, it’s the only alternative to living on streets, they claim

18 August, 2017 — By Emily Finch

Squatters Adam and Jamie at the pub

SQUATTERS this week took over an empty pub in Holloway Road in protest against high rents in the capital.

The five squatters, who say they offer housing and food to the less fortunate, moved into the former Liquor Works pub on Sunday.

“We respect the building. We don’t trash it. We don’t rip out the copper wiring,” said squatter Jamie, 26, who did not wish to give his surname.

“Nine out of ten times, we manage to contact the owners to see if we can look after the building and give it back when they ask. We’re squatting to have somewhere to stay. Rent is too expensive in London.”

A courier originally from Margate, Jamie has been squatting for more than five years. He was living in an abandoned drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in Finsbury Park before moving into the pub.

The three-storey Irish theme pub had been empty for more than three weeks before they moved in, he said.

The former Liquor Works pub in Holloway Road

Another squatter, Adam, said that, with rents in London so high, squatting was the only alternative to living on the streets.

Ronan McKenna, who runs Rockerfella Pub Group, which owns The Liquor Works alongside The Railway Telegraph pub in south London’s Forest Hill, could not be reached for comment.

According to Companies House, Mr McKenna’s other company, Farmers Choice (Anglesey), where he was a director until April, was the subject of a High Court winding up order in July.

On Wednesday, the squatters said they had been offered money to move out by Thursday (yesterday) but would not disclose the amount.

According to the Land Registry, the pub site is owned by Unique Pub Properties, which was bought by Ei Group in 2004. The group owns the freehold of more than 4,500 pubs throughout the country.

A spokeswoman for Ei Group said: “This matter is being dealt with by our security contractor, who aims to repossess and secure the site by the end of this week.”

The pub at 203 Holloway Road reopened in February following refurbishment. It was previously called Phibbers.

Mayor of Islington Una O’Halloran was scheduled to attend a fashion party for Exquisite Model Management at the pub tomorrow (Saturday).

Nicole Alvaruz, who runs the modelling company, said the pub management team had not told her of the venue’s closure.

“I think I’ve found an alternative venue in Dalston. Now the Mayor can’t come. I am annoyed, really annoyed. I went out of my way to organise her coming,” she said.

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