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Squatters take over hotel

November 01 2015
Campaigners will not run an open-door policy after being “targeted” by youths intent on causing damage

Campaigners squatting in a Manchester Hotel, owned by football players Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, have confirmed that they will not be running an open-door policy after being “targeted” by youth groups intent on causing damage.

The Manchester Angels, a group of housing activists, occupied the Sock Exchange building in October. The building is owned by the Manchester United players, who have planning permission to turn the historic building into a boutique hotel.

But activists were astounded when rather than applying for a warrant to remove them, Neville and Giggs told them they could stay for the winter.

However, within days the high-profile building had attracted the unwelcome attention of “youth groups”, who started damaging the building,

Wesley Hall, project manager, told the Pavement: “It’s a wonderful thing that these Gary Neville has done, but we need to make sure that people don’t spoil this opportunity.

“Last night, we were unable to open the door to genuine homeless people because of people who were intent on getting in to cause disruption.

“Someone ran in and hit a fuse box, we heard some others talking about how they were going to steal the marble from the walls. "But what’s amazing is within 24 hours, it’s all looking different. We’ve got cameras installed and a security firm in place. We’ve got the fire service getting everything we need in place in terms of health and safety.”

Hall confirmed that there are currently 30 homeless people living in the building, who at time of press were occupying the bottom floors. It is expected that a further 30–40 people will be accommodated, with the Manchester Angels planning to take referrals from other charities across the city.

Only those with low to medium needs will be accommodated, according to Hall, who claims that keeping those already staying in the building is a priority.

Neville and Giggs have also provided airbeds, sleeping bags and meals, and are installing temporary toilets and showers in the building.

Meanwhile, police and bailiffs have removed a homeless camp set up on the campus of Manchester Metropolitan University.