Anger over squatters' house invasion

OUTRAGED residents claim they are “prisoners in their own home” after squatters invaded a building in a quiet Suffolk street. Around 24 people have moved into a former old people's home on Queens Close, in Bury St Edmunds, using furniture and other items to barricade themselves inside the building.

OUTRAGED residents claim they are “prisoners in their own home” after squatters invaded a building in a quiet Suffolk street.

Around 24 people have moved into a former old people's home on Queens Close, in Bury St Edmunds, using furniture and other items to barricade themselves inside the building.

Last night residents living near the derelict building said they felt intimidated by the nuisance squatters, who play music late into the night.

One elderly woman, whose home in York Close looks directly on to the building occupied by the squatters, said people have become more vigilant, making sure all their doors and windows are properly locked.

“No one really knows what these squatters are capable of,” she said.

“At the moment they do not come outside, but that could change and a lot of us feel imprisoned in our own homes.”

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The 28-room residential home had stood empty for around four years until earlier this year, when Stonham Housing Association tenants living in Britannia House, in Bury, moved in while their own building was being refurbished.

Emma Osborne, whose house in Queens Road also overlooks the squatters, said: “There was uproar when Stonham moved the residents in from Britannia House, and although it was not as bad as anyone thought it was going to be, it is shocking to think they have now been replaced by squatters.

“The building is right opposite my house and I have a young daughter, so obviously it is a worry and it bothers me to think about what might be going on in there.

“People might not think this type of thing is a big deal, but it is a completely different matter when it is on your own doorstep, and it brings the area down.”

St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which owns the building, now hopes the squatters will be forced to leave when the electricity supply is cut off to the building.

An application is also being made to the county court for an interim possession order. If granted, it would have to be served within 24 hours, and would give the squatters 24 hours to vacate the premises.

Borough councillor David Nettleton said it is not known how the squatters got into the building, but said the priority is to now get them out. “Hopefully, with no gas or electricity, the squatters will have no choice but to leave,” he said.

“These people just seem to know when a property becomes vacant, but it is not very nice for other people living in the area because it puts them on edge.

“These squatters want the council to find homes for them, but some people have been on the waiting list for a long time and it is not fair for others to come in and jump the queue.”

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