London

Squatters evicted from art gallery The Foundry

Bailiffs have evicted squatters protesting about the demolition of an east London art gallery.

They had been occupying The Foundry in Hoxton - once home to a Banksy - since June. The venue will be replaced by an art-themed hotel.

The Foundry allowed artists to exhibit for free and protesters say the development is cashing in on the local art scene at the cost of artists.

Park Plaza Hotels said its 18-room project would create jobs.

At lunchtime, bailiffs moved in to evict the protesters, who call themselves Foundry for the People.

Police were at the scene to keep the peace.

'Just wrong'

Squatter James Hurford, 36, said: "About 10 bailiffs turned up - they were massive guys.

"They did not inform us what was going to happen, but barged past us and evicted everyone.

"They are not even allowing me to pick my stuff up."

Mr Hurford continued: "This was a free art space and it's getting ripped down to make a hotel.

"It's just wrong."

Foundry for the People is the second group to inhabit the building, after previous protesters, 84 Great Eastern Street, left about two months ago.

The latest group said bailiffs had no jurisdiction to evict them, as the court order was issued to the previous squatters.

A Hackney Council spokeswoman said: "The promised hotel will have a gallery space, restaurant and bar open to the public.

"The gallery will have more exhibition space for local artists than at the current venue."

The council said it did not know if the space would be free for the community after the development.

Park Plaza Hotels refused to comment on the eviction.

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