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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 February 2006, 11:59 GMT
Neighbours rally round squatters
People living near a group of squatters described as "perfect neighbours" are fighting to save them from eviction.

Residents in Ravenscroft Avenue, Golders Green, north London, have organised a petition to safeguard the empty homes for the squatters.

Property developers Pearl and Coutts were granted a court order last week to evict the group of 15 musicians and artists from five houses.

The firm said they were forced to act after receiving complaints.

At night my daughter feels much safer walking home knowing the house is not empty
Sophie Alexander, neighbour

Sophie Alexander, a mother of three who lives next door to the group, said the squatters had been "exemplary neighbours".

"They knocked on the door the day they moved in saying if there is any way we can be helpful just ask.

"At night my daughter feels much safer walking home knowing the house is not empty," she said.

The squatters, all in their 20s, say they need more time to arrange a new place to live.

Elisa Silva, 24, said: "We are not saying we want the right to stay forever, we just said we wanted some time to sort out our problems. We are not animals."

Planning permission

The houses in Ravenscroft Avenue and Wentworth Road have been totally renovated by the group, who all work as artists, musicians and fashion designers.

Justeo Burgues, 29, from Spain said: "We love this place and are really looking after it.

"They don't know what will happen to it when they throw us out."

But Jonathan Hager of Pearl and Coutts said he had been "inundated with complaints" from one neighbour.

"We have planning permission on half the site and will be applying for the rest when they are out," he said.

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13 Jun 05 |  London

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