WALTHAMSTOW: Destitute men living in 'filthy' derelict pub
CONCERNS have been raised about a group of destitute men living in filthy conditions in a derelict pub.
Neighbours say the men have been squatting in the former 'Central Station' in Brunner Road, Walthamstow, for several years, but their numbers have grown to around 15 in recent months.
They have no running water or electricity, and reportedly use a nearby alleyway and pavements to go to the toilet.
Nigel Jenkins, of MNJ Motors opposite the site, said businesses in the area were very concerned about what was happening in the “filthy” building, which he said was over-run with rats.
Traders also claim it attracts anti-social behaviour and crime to the area.
Mr Jenkins said: "There's so much mess from there we have to use pressure washers to clean the front of our premises on a regular basis.
“People are very intimidated and some are scared to walk down the alleyway.
"The men are aged between 25 and 50 and spend a lot of time drinking. Every morning a van comes to pick some of them up and then they come back again in the evening.
“There was someone who went inside the building to inspect it and they told me they found hand sanitizer bottles from Whipps Cross Hospital which they may have been drinking from. It's terrible.
"But when we call the authorities nobody does anything or seems to care."
The pub closed after a devastating fire in 2007 and has since been hit by a number of other blazes in recent years.
Property firm Edward Symmons sold the building at auction in April for more than £300,000 - double the guide price. But the company will not reveal who bought it.
Mr Jenkins said a Polish colleague had overheard the men speaking and believed they were of Russian origin.
A council spokesman said its planning department had received a complaint and were investigating.
But he added: "generally it is for the owner of the property to evict squatters and we would explore that avenue before serving an enforcement notice."
When the Guardian visited the scene two men were inside but they appeared intoxicated and unable to speak.
A spokesman for the UK Border Agency denied reports that it had received a complaint that the men were suspected illegal immigrants.
But he said: "We work closely with other agencies to deal with the challenges presented by homeless migrants and are determined to crack down on illegal immigration.
"Those found living or working here illegally is are liable to be detained and removed.
“Anyone with information about potential illegal working or immigration crime should contact Crimestoppers 0800 555 111 or visit http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/aboutus/contact/report-crime."
The Guardian is awaiting a comment from Waltham Forest Police.