MEMBERS of controversial protest camp Occupy Sheffield have ‘taken possession’ of a historic city building – citing squatters’ rights to do so.
Protesters, who have defied requests to leave their anti-capitalism camp outside Sheffield Cathedral, claim they will make the old Salvation Army Citadel building, in Cross Burgess Street, safe and secure before opening it to public use.
The building is privately owned by a Durham-based property developer called Bob Hill.
It has been empty since 1999, when soaring costs for the upkeep of the 1890 building led the Salvation Army to move to a new site in Psalter Lane.
Occupy said it had renamed the site the ‘Citadel of Hope’ after finding it open three days ago and moving in.
Jobee, Occupy spokesman, said: “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.”
The camp in the cathedral forecourt is to stay as their base, said protesters.
A national Occupy movement conference – which is being held in Sheffield next month – is now expected to take place at the Salvation Army building.
Community groups will also be invited to use it and protesters hope it will encourage more people to join their movement.
But they denied this could be the first of many buildings they take over.
Jobee, 20, said: “It was the location because this is near the town hall. 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.”
Cathedral clergy have repeatedly asked the camp to remove their tents from the forecourt, but they have refused to do so.
Mr Hill was not available for comment.