MEMBERS of the Occupy Sheffield camp in Sheffield have taken over another spot in the city centre.
Refusing to leave the forecourt of Sheffield Cathedral, they have ‘taken possession’ of the former Salvation Army citadel at the corner of Cross Burgess Street and Pinstone Street.
The anti-capitalist protesters say they will “make the building safe and secure and will then open it for public use”.
Community groups that can no longer afford to pay for accommodation because of funding cuts will be able to use the building, which has been renamed The Citadel of Hope.
The castellated structure has been empty since the Salvation Army moved to Psalter Lane more than ten years ago.
Owned by a Durham property developer, it was earmarked for a bar before falling foul of council planning rules and most recently permission was granted for conversion into shops. The location is next to the proposed £600m Sevenstone retail quarter.
For the moment, it is being used by Occupy Sheffield, which has been camped in front of the Cathedral since November 5, resisting requests from the church authorities to move.
“The original Occupy Sheffield encampment outside Sheffield Cathedral will remain in situ,” says the group. “The Citadel of Hope will not be an open residential occupation but will be crewed at all times. People wishing to join the residential encampment at Sheffield Cathedral should continue to do so.”
A spokesman said the old citadel had been chosen because it is near the town hall and “it was open, so easy to get into. It won’t be the start of several buildings because we’re not wanting to put that message across. We’re happy with what we’ve got now – we’ll be able to do things at the new building rather than at the cathedral.”
He added: “People are going to benefit from this. Once we’ve finished, the building is still going to be there and we will do it up to the best of our abilities. It needs rewiring and stuff like that but it’s quite easily done. We’ve got electricians and I’m a carpenter.”
Protesters say they want to draw attention to “the casino capitalism” that has blighted the economy.
Cathedral clergy say they have shown tolerance but now want the camp to be removed, saying the point has been made.
The camp was now ‘severely affecting the ministry of the church’ and deterring groups from renting space for events in the cathedral, with a loss of money vital for maintenance and running costs and going towards the Archer project, which works with homeless people.