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Royal Mint squatters by Tower of London claim they’re being ‘starved out’

14:40 30 December 2015

Defiant... squatters at the Royal Mint give a hand-fist wave from balcony [photo: Ken Mears]

Defiant... squatters at the Royal Mint give a hand-fist wave from balcony [photo: Ken Mears]

Archant

Squatters who have taken over part of the former Royal Mint complex are “under siege” and claim they are being starved out, after slipping into the complex opposite the Tower of London on Monday night.

A note pinned to the entrance of the Royal Mint occupied by squatters [Ken Mears]A note pinned to the entrance of the Royal Mint occupied by squatters [Ken Mears]

The protesters have taken over one of the five Grade II-listed buildings in the complex at Tower Hill and are refusing to leave, although admitting they may not have brought enough to eat with them.

They are campaigning against homelessness would only be turfed out when the owners arrive with a High Court order, they declared.

“We’re in a ‘siege’ position where the security people won’t allow us food,” one squatter identifying himself as Tom Tamilin told the East London Advertiser.

“We have ‘access to leave this building, but not to come back.

Royal Mint... occupied by squatters protesting at luxury properties left empty [photo: Vickie Flores]Royal Mint... occupied by squatters protesting at luxury properties left empty [photo: Vickie Flores]

“No-one is bringing us food—so we’re all going on a strict diet. They want to starve us out.”

Tom, describing himself as a 44-year-old humanist ‘nomad’ from Camden Town who travels the world for a profession, was one of 20 protesters who slipped into Royal Mint Court on Monday.

They are down to half the number, but have not yet been served legal papers to quit.

Their protest is over the five buildings left empty which they say could house 1,000 homeless people.

“There are 104,000 homeless children in this country—with one-and-a-half million empty buildings,” Tom added. “We want the old Royal Mint to be used to house people.

“But it’s also about the financial bubble, the world of finance, keeping luxury properties empty to keep values high.”

The protesters have already had one brush with security contractors who they claim turfed out squatters from one building without court papers—until police arrived and advised that a court order would be needed.

“We need out day in court,” Tom demanded.

Meanwhile, they have mains water supplies, although the owners slipped them a note yesterday advising that it hadn’t been tested in a while and “might not be safe”.

That didn’t wash with the protesters, who are boiling the water before drinking—just in case. Only food was not getting through.

“We didn’t think they would starve us out,” Tom admits. “We thought we’d have right of passage, but they control the yard. If we leave, we can’t get back.”

The five-acre Royal Mint Court has five listed buildings including the one being occupied. It is no longer used by the Royal Mint following re-location to Lombard Street in the City in 2000, but has been earmarked for redevelopment as a business complex.

The last coins minted at Tower Hill were in the 1970s, when production was shifted to South Wales.

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