We reported last week on the previously owned Gala Bingo hall in Cambridge which had been taken over by a group of social activist squatters called ‘Occupy Cambridge’. The group had taken over the vacant Gala Bingo hall to allow the local community to regain the use of the premises and had planned to put on free bingo sessions and screen films in the old building. The situation at the bingo hall however turned grim the day before a proposed public meeting when approximately 50 riot police converged on the Gala Bingo hall to remove the squatters.
Gala Bingo hall squatter posing a fire risk
The police were accompanied to the old bingo hall by a Fire Officer and the group were evicted on the grounds of fire safety, which was considered ironic by the Gala Bingo hall protesters as they were at the time of the eviction in a meeting regarding any potential fire hazards, Health and safety and the opening of fire exits prior to the planned public meeting at the Gala Bingo hall on Saturday. The police had stated that they were prepared to use force to evict the squatters from the bingo hall, however due to worries about their personal safety the squatters decided to leave peacefully. A statement on the group’s website which is called ‘Cambridge Free Spaces’ said of the Gala Bingo hall eviction “We were evicted yesterday under the pretext that the building was unsafe to use. It is of course ludicrous that a building designed as an entertainment hall, and later used as a cinema and bingo hall as recently as last May cannot be made safe for the community to use. When we received the visit by the authorities last night, their aim was not to make this project safe, but to evict us no matter what”.
Our article about the Gala Bingo hall squatters last week highlighted the Occupy Cambridge group’s modus operandi which is that empty and disused buildings such as the Gala Bingo hall should be given back to the local community to use as social centres. The group planned to allow local community groups to use the space for workshops, exhibitions, meetings, music etc., in fact just about anything that the local people might want to participate in. The dreams of Gala Bingo Hall squatters now seem to have been squashed by the eviction of the group from the Gala bingo hall. The meeting that was going to take place on Saturday inside the building was still being planned by the Occupy Cambridge group to take place outside of the old Gala Bingo hall on Hobson Street instead. The old Gala Bingo hall is now owned by a property developer and it is unknown when any building works will commence.