Occupy London protesters take over fifth London site

 

Occupy London protesters have taken over an eight-storey office building in the City despite warnings it is unsafe.

The economic justice campaigners entered Roman House in the Barbican at about 3.30am, the fifth occupation they have carried out to date.

The movement vowed to remain at the abandoned block that previously housed financial service companies, until the City of London Corporation publishes full details of its City cash accounts.

The protesters are calling for the Corporation to "become a more transparent public body like every other public body in the country".

Supporter Bryn Phillips, 28, said: "The Corporation has undermined our democracy through the power of its lobbyists and must submit to public scrutiny.

"If the City agrees to publish its City cash accounts, future and historic, we will leave the building immediately. If does not, we will take appropriate action until such time as it does."

The Corporation does not publish the £50 million-a-year accounts because some of the assets involved are commercially sensitive, it is understood.

A private endowment, the accounts fund a number of places and events around the capital each year, including open spaces (£16 million), food markets (£6 million), City of London schools (£5 million) and ceremonial events such as state visits (£5 million).

More than 250 pages of detailed spending by the Corporation is published on its website.

City of London Police arrived at Roman House minutes after the protesters entered the building but no arrests were made, Mr Phillips said.

"There's been a very high police presence," he said. "It's the highest we've had since we occupied St Paul's. The City of London Corporation sent their own vans around."

About 50 protesters took over the building with more expected to join them later, he added.

On Monday it will be opened to the public for a lecture on the City's "secret finances and lobbying activities".

January 23 is also the 100-day anniversary of the movement's occupation of the land by St Paul's Cathedral, where they set up camp on October 15 last year.

On Wednesday the High Court backed the Corporation's bid to evict the protesters from the area.

Granting orders for possession and injunctions against Occupy London, Mr Justice Lindblom said that the proposed action was "entirely lawful and justified" as well as necessary and proportionate.

But one of the protesters has launched an appeal and the rest remained defiant this weekend.

Mr Phillips said: "Everyone is still there, everyone is in good spirits. We'll wait to see what happens with the appeal. I've got my fingers crossed.

"We'll be occupying the country parish by parish, borough by borough, in order to involve people in this economic discourse.

"We have many, many more buildings targeted and we'll take more sites with tents. The occupation will keep growing."

Other occupations by the movement include Finsbury Square and a building owned by investment bank UBS, both in the City of London.

The Corporation declined to comment on the latest occupation.

The protesters are calling for the Corporation to "become a more transparent public body like every other public body in the country".

Supporter Bryn Phillips, 28, said: "The Corporation has undermined our democracy through the power of its lobbyists and must submit to public scrutiny.

"If the City agrees to publish its City cash accounts, future and historic, we will leave the building immediately. If does not, we will take appropriate action until such time as it does."

And he dismissed the safety concerns raised by Berkeley Homes.

"There was a log book inside the building and it was completely blank for asbestos," he said. "And we're only going to be occupying one floor at a time and that would be health and safety checked first."

The Corporation does not publish its £50 million-a-year City cash accounts because some of the assets involved are commercially sensitive, it is understood.

A private endowment, the accounts fund a number of places and events around the capital each year, including open spaces (£16 million), food markets (£6 million), City of London schools (£5 million) and ceremonial events such as state visits (£5 million).

More than 250 pages of detailed spending by the Corporation is published on its website.

City of London Police arrived at Roman House minutes after the protesters entered the building but no arrests were made, Mr Phillips said.

"There's been a very high police presence," he said. "It's the highest we've had since we occupied St Paul's. The City of London Corporation sent their own vans around."

About 50 protesters took over the building and a number of local residents came out to show their support during the day, the group said.

On Monday the building will be opened to the public for a lecture on the City's "secret finances and lobbying activities".

January 23 is also the 100-day anniversary of the movement's occupation of the land by St Paul's Cathedral, where they set up camp on October 15 last year.

On Wednesday the High Court backed the Corporation's bid to evict the protesters from the area.

Granting orders for possession and injunctions against Occupy London, Mr Justice Lindblom said that the proposed action was "entirely lawful and justified" as well as necessary and proportionate.

But one of the protesters has launched an appeal and the rest remained defiant this weekend.

Mr Phillips said: "Everyone is still there, everyone is in good spirits. We'll wait to see what happens with the appeal. I've got my fingers crossed.

"We'll be occupying the country parish by parish, borough by borough, in order to involve people in this economic discourse.

"We have many, many more buildings targeted and we'll take more sites with tents. The occupation will keep growing."

Other occupations by the movement include Finsbury Square and a building owned by investment bank UBS, both in the City of London.

The Corporation declined to comment on the latest occupation.

PA

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