Squatters hoping to stop Sainsbury’s open another store in the former Kemp Town Taj store have now left after the building was stormed by police today.
The protesters, who call themselves Sabotaj, were trying to stop Sainsbury’s open the fourth supermarket in just a few hundred yards on St James’s Street – and barely half a mile away from another of their new stores in North Street.
Last Wednesday, a judge ordered them to leave within 24 hours, and last night a Twitter account purporting to belong to them said they had now moved out.
@Sabotajers said at about 1am: “We have left, there is now a 24hr security guard in the building. But anti-Sainsburys campaign carrys on stronger!”
This morning at about 10am, several police cars pulled up outside and officers entered the building. About 50 officers were deployed in total.
Chief Inspector Simon Nelson said: “The officers had protective equipment with them due to the uncertainties surrounding what they might face inside.
“They were enforcing a court order under Section 76 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which confirmed that anyone remaining in the building was committing a criminal offence of trespass.
“After entering the building, officers called out to any occupants asking them to safely make their way to the ground floor, and a thorough search was made of each floor before one man was located inside and arrested. There was no violence and and no injury.”
50 officers were involved in the operation overall, but only some went into the building,
On Monday evening, a meeting will be held to discuss how the anti-Sainsbury’s campaign can progress at Community Base in Queen’s Road, Brighton, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.
Opposition to new supermarkets in the city has been building since several new Sainsbury’s and Tesco stores opened in the last two years.
Brighton and Hove City Council leader Mary Mears has spoken out against the trend, but says planning law as it stands means local authorities remain largely powerless to stop them.
However, last year protesters successfully managed to stop Tesco opening a store in Lewes Road after planting a garden on an empty site on which a new store was due to be built.
Building work on the retail units and flats there is still going ahead, but following a meeting with Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas, Tesco said they would no longer be opening there.