Loose Space squatters resist eviction of former Cornerhouse building with rooftop protest

  • Oxford Road closed off by police for more than an hour
  • Hundreds gather to watch spectacle
  • Squatters stage rooftop protest and refuse to leave the building
  • Police and bailiffs leave after negotiations fail

Police closed off Oxford Road for more than an hour today after an attempt to evict squatters from the former Cornerhouse building.

Hundreds of people watched as squatters from the Loose Space homeless art collective staged a roftop protest at the attempted eviction by Network Rail from the site they have been occupying for the past few weeks.

Whitworth Street and the entrance to Oxford Road station were sealed off as British Transport Police and representatives from Network Rail attempted to talk the squatters into coming down from the roof and evcuating the building.

At one stage a fire engine wuth a hydraulic lift was called in for what appeared to be an attempt to bring the protestors down from the roof.

One of the members of Loose Space  – at one stage prowling the roof with a large stick – could be seen remonstrating with police and bailiffs attempting to talk him down.

Another could be seen tying a noose around his neck in what appeared to be a mock hanging.

While there was a visibly heavy police presence, it was the British Transport Police  (BTP), not the GMP, who were running the operation to remove the squatters from the occupied Cornerhouse building.

BPT told the NQ that while the GMP were there, they were present only to "support the BPT," although if the situation escalates the GMP may need to step in to assist. 

Network Rail, who own the building, released the following statement following this afternoon's incident: 

"Network Rail has been continuing to talk to the group occupying the Cornerhouse cinema who had agreed to leave the property on 25 April.

"When we arrived on site, two members of the group climbed on to the roof. At this moment in time discussions are ongoing to seek a safe resolution.

"As a responsible landlord our main concern is the safety of the group, the public and the wider area which includes a major railway station."

The BPT confirmed that, as far as they are currently concerned, the "incident is now over," although the Loose Space squatters remain in control of the building, with dozens of protestors remaining in the building. 

During the operation Oxford Road and Whitworth Street, along with Oxford Road train station, were closed down, with the BPT claiming that "precaution was necessary for safety."