Page last updated at 17:28 GMT, Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Squatters at Tesco site in Stokes Croft are evicted

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Seventy police officers were at the scene as crowds cheered the protesters

Bailiffs have evicted nine of the 10 squatters occupying the site of a planned Tesco Express in Bristol.

Police said four people had been arrested for public order offences.

One man remains on a flat roof above the former Jesters comedy club in Stokes Croft. His arm is encased in a barrel of concrete.

During the day, a crowd of protesters cheered the squatters from the street. Seventy police officers were at the scene.

A man who was apparently stuck by superglue to a large metal tripod was removed by bailiffs during the afternoon.

'Local character'

Police closed part of Cheltenham Road and motorists faced delays, but officers hoped to reopen the road by the Tuesday evening rush hour.

The protesters moved into the former Jesters club six weeks ago.

They oppose plans to turn the building into a Tesco Express convenience store.

A group of officials outside the former comedy club
Bailiffs gather before entering the site of the Tesco store

Critics said they did not want the area to lose its local character and feared smaller shops would find their businesses threatened.

But Tesco said evidence showed that opening such a store could bring shoppers back to an area and help local traders.

Robin Markwell from BBC Radio Bristol, who spent several hours outside the building, said campaigners in the street had been shouting support to the squatters on the roof.

There had been one or two minor scuffles involving protesters and police outside. The atmosphere was "relatively calm", he said.

Bristol City Council has approved the change of use for the building.

A protest took place at the site in February.

Claire Milne, who represents the group No Tesco in Stokes Croft, told the BBC last month that the area was "a melting pot of independent traders" who may have to close if they are unable to compete with the multi-national company.

Community spirit

Bushra Randhawa, a postmaster and resident for 24 years, said last month: "It's taken a huge effort from local groups, traders and the community to regenerate this area.

"Only now does it feel like a real community spirit is developing.

"This move will take us two steps backwards when we need to take two steps forward."

As the eviction got under way, a Tesco spokesman said: "We're keen to invest in the area. Many local people we've spoken to tell us they are eager to see a Tesco Express at this site.

"Our store will create approximately 20 new jobs and provide shopping facilities for hundreds of local residents.

"The squatters, who were illegally occupying the building, were asked to leave but refused.

"High Court enforcement officers are removing them from the premises with the support of the police."



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SEE ALSO
Bailiffs evict Tesco protesters
16 Mar 10 |  Bristol
Demonstration against Tesco plans
13 Feb 10 |  Bristol
Designs invited for corner sites
18 Sep 09 |  Bristol
Tesco's effect on the high street
18 Oct 05 |  Bristol

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