Battersea Park squatters to be taken to court
By JulieGK | Tuesday, January 15, 2013, 15:03
Wandsworth Council is taking a group of squatters to court in a bid to end their unauthorised occupation of the children's adventure playground in Battersea Park.
On Thursday, January 17 the council will be applying for an eviction order from a judge
at the county court.
There are a handful of squatters who have been camping in the playground for
just over a week. They are preventing the council from starting work on
refurbishing and modernising the playground as part of a £200,000 investment in
new play equipment.
The revamped playground is scheduled to reopen at the start of the Easter
holidays so that children and young people in the area can enjoy the new
facilities during the school break. The continuing presence of the squatters is
jeopardising this timetable.
They do not have any sanitary arrangements in place at the playground and
have also lit fires near to the existing wooden structures. They do not have any
fire fighting equipment if these get out of control nor do they have any fuel
sources on site apart from trees and wooden play equipment.
Last week the chairman of the local amenity watchdog group The Friends of
Battersea Park echoed the council's calls for the squatters to leave, warning
that any delay caused by the squatters "puts at risk the opening of the new
adventure playground in time for the Easter holidays".
Children's services spokesman Cllr Kathy Tracey said: "Later this week we
will be applying to the county court for an eviction order to bring this
unlawful and unauthorised occupation to an end. These people should leave now
before incurring any further legal costs.
"We are determined to bring this occupation to an end. We cannot allow these
squatters to disrupt the long planned programme of investment at the playground
and prevent local children from enjoying it during their Easter holidays."
The squatters are part of the same group that occupied the square outside St
Paul's Cathedral last year. They are not from the local area. According to local
media reports they come from places like Walthamstow and Hackney while one is
also said to have travelled to Battersea from Leicester.
The new equipment being installed at the playground is designed for all ages
and includes rope swings, chain ladders, aerial walkways, tube slides, scramble
nets, zip wires and fireman's poles. Last summer 92 per cent of visitors to the
playground were under 12 with the biggest group of users (54 per cent) aged
between five and eight. These children were almost always accompanied by parents