Fury over former Hornsey Rise school occupied by squatters ‘lit up like a Christmas tree’
PUBLISHED: 17:09 13 November 2013 | UPDATED: 17:09 13 November 2013
»Fresh anger has erupted over a controversial former school which squatters have “lit up like a Christmas tree”.
People living near the old Ashmount building, in Hornsey Rise, are angry that a group of up to 100 squatters who moved in just days after caretakers left, are enjoying free electricity.
Independent councillor Greg Foxsmith, who represents Hillrise ward, covering the Ashmount Road site, says Islington Council has failed on three counts; not disconnecting the utilities, not acting when they withdrew the caretakers and not responding when the squatters moved in.
He said: “At a time when Labour leaders in the town hall are wringing their hands about rising heating bills, they are allowing people who have illegally entered and occupied a local school to crank the heating up, whilst continuing to pay the bills.
“Residents are being subjected to late-night noise nuisance from a building lit up like a Christmas tree, and across the borough people will be amazed to hear the council is heating and lighting the building for the squatters.
“It is impossible to say whether that has been allowed to happen as a deliberate act to further Labour councillors’ aims of preventing a free school on the site, or just another example of their bungling incompetence”
The future of the site has been the subject of hot-tempered discussions since Ashmount School announced its decision to move to new £16.5million premises, which opened at the start of the year.
A free school, Whitehall Park, looks set to open on the site next September – but the council has always said it wants to bulldoze the site and build new housing.
One resident, who lives close to the site but doesn’t want to be named, said: “I don’t have an axe to grind over the politics but I do have a problem with Islington ratepayers forking out for the heating and lighting.
“They have never been cut off by the council and all the buildings are lit up pretty much constantly.
“If they want the building emptied, this would be a much quicker and easier way than getting a court order.
“The weather has turned and without heating people just wouldn’t want to be there.”
Cllr Joe Caluori, Islington Council’s executive member for children and families, said: “Criticising the council totally misses the point. Nobody wanted squatters to move into the empty school, and the council is taking action to ensure they are evicted. This has to be done properly and in compliance with the law.”