People’s Cafe squatters say they will be evicted after three-week occupation

A group of protesters who have occupied the former Forest Café in Edinburgh say they are due to be evicted tomorrow.

More than 100 people began the sit-in in the Bristo Place property on November 30 under the name People’s Café.

The group, who say they were able to enter the premises because it was unlocked, hoped to reopen the building to the community, and held a series of events including film nights, yoga sessions and an alternative festive celebration.

But earlier this month court papers were served asking the occupiers to cease squatting.

One member of the People’s Café, who gave her name as Claire, said they were happy to have lasted so long: “To get this building for three weeks is really good because it’s illegal according to the squatting law in Scotland. It’s disappointing that we have to move out now but it’s a success that we’ve lasted this time.”

The building, formerly run as a community space by voluntary arts collective Forest, was vacated in August when owners the Edinburgh University Settlement went bankrupt and its control was handed to administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Protestor Kim Grant, who is also involved in Edinburgh’s St Andrew Square occupation, added: “I’ve seen the process of how quickly we turned this space around – we changed the dynamics of the space. We’ve had a very positive response.”

While Occupy Edinburgh, who set up camp in St Andrew Square in October, claim they are a separate organisation from the People’s Café, the second national Occupy conference was held in Bristo Place from Friday 16 to Sunday, December 18.

Members of Occupy from camps around the UK, including London, Birmingham and Newcastle, gathered to discuss support for the movement, share skills on coping with problems arising and to forge a way forward.

Earlier this month Occupy Edinburgh was backed by the City of Edinburgh Council and more recently the Scottish Green Party lodged a motion in their support to the Scottish Parliament.

Claire added that many of their members had originally come from St Andrew Square: “A lot of people will go back there after the eviction,” she said. “We share the same message against bankers and the politicians favouring the rich and not the poor.

“We’re going to have another meeting in January – it is clear that Edinburgh is one of the main Occupies.”

Earlier this month administrators PricewaterhouseCooper said they “believe it is in everybody’s interests that they vacate the building,“ though declined to make any further comment.